I’m a feminist. I think. I mean, I believe in many of the things that proper feminists believe in. And I’m not ashamed of that. I’m proud. But I’m not a ‘proper’ feminist. Oh god. I don’t know anymore…

Where does this disjointed ranting come from (other than from my little brain)? As a few of you may know, I’m working for a film festival – we present international films made by women.

Below is a recent, frustrating conversation I’ve had. The frustration comes from the fact that I can’t believe, in this day and age, that this is the sixth time I’ve had this conversation since I started working here.

Him – Oh, so you’re like a feminist, huh?

Me – yes, but that’s not why I work for this company, I just love what they do – it’s cool.

Him  – are you all like, you know, all lesbians?

Me – does that matter?

Him – well you’re a feminist, and you work for a organisation that’s for women only.

Me – not at all. I work for a company that shows films to men and women – in fact we want as many men to come along as possible. Just because a woman made a film, doesn’t means those films are only about “women’s issues”. Women go and see films made by men all the time, and we don’t think that.

Him  – Aha. So you are gay then!

Me – Ummm – it’s not really a fair question. I don’t see how it’s got anything to do promoting art by women, and why I need to justify why I do the work I do.

Him  – But it’s obvious.

Me – (VERY frustrated at this stage). Why’s it obvious?

Him – because you’re a feminist and you work in a feminist organisation. Just like gay people work in gay organisations, and that’s like what you do.

Me – Actually, I work in an arts organisation, not a feminist organisation. I’m not gay. I am in support of women who need a platform to present their work. Some women prefer not to use a company like ours, some find it’s the only way. It’s their choice and we’re not forcing anyone to do anything. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

Him – it’s discrimination against men.

*I really need to add that I’m actually toning this conversation down – this particular guy was an idiot. The others weren’t this bad, but there were certainly echoes-throughout this conversation of the others I’d had*

Me – it’s not discrimination when film festivals show films – 90% of which are usually made by men.

Him – yeah, but that’s not our fault.

Me – (speechless, and confused at this point. How could I possibly be losing this argument, feel backed into a corner, feel guilty about not being gay and being a feminist???)

Him – the problem with you feminists is you want everything to be your way. You show films made by women, whether they’re good or not, just cause their made by women.

Me – Look, I think you misunderstand what feminism can mean to some people. I wear short skirts, I kiss boys, I read vogue and I like it when I buy stupidly expensive make up. That doesn’t mean I can’t be a Guerilla Girl and actively fight to see more art by women hung in galleries, more movies made by women nominated for oscars and more women become conductors, if they want to. Plus – we show films that are the best of the best – they win awards and they are amazing and great.

Him – Whatever. I have to go. But we should go out on a date, here’s my number…

(this guy should consider himself lucky I didn’t give his mobile number to everyone I know so they can prank call him)

So here I am. Confused, bruised and worried that I didn’t do the cause any justice, but I actually might have made it worse. Somehow.

I never considered myself a feminist because I never thought I had to – I just thought it was all very obvious. How wrong could I be?

When did ‘feminism’ become a dirty word? Why did I stupidly feel the need to defend my girliness, as if there’s something wrong with someone who doesn’t like lipstick and skirts and boys. There’s not, and I let some important people in my life down by not being stronger and defending feminism and being gay. Why should I care if some loser thinks I gay, just because his pea-brain equates feminism with lesbianism?

Aaaarrggghh. I’m just so disappointed… In myself mostly. But also a little bit in him and his ilk.

*I know – I made myself look like a superwomen, fighting on the side of right, and he look like neanderthal man in the retelling of the conversation. I’d have no problems with writing it differently if it had happened differently. It didn’t though. All I can say is that you miss all of my blustering, red faced-ness and umming and ahhing which makes the whole thing seem a lot less cool.*

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