A little bit portfolio, a little bit clever & mainly moronic

Month: February, 2011

THE F WORD: My Name is Alexandra Wilks and I am a Feminist

Feminists are few and far between. It has become almost a taboo to admit that you are a feminist. Feminism is the butt of many chauvinist jokes and something which many people claim that they ‘don’t think about too much.’

Yet men still earn more than women; in 2010 full time male workers earned just over 10 per cent more than their female counterparts. Men are still more successful than women; four out of the twenty nine cabinet ministers are women. Even women who do battle through the glass ceiling have to make choices between their career and having a family. Women are forced to reject their femininity and assume more ‘masculine’ qualities in order to succeed in a male dominated society. Girls outperform boys at GCSE by 72.4% A*-C grades compared to 65.4% for boys (2010 Guardian Study of GCSE results) and then again at A-level. So why are women less successful in the work place and why do their feminine traits hinder rather than help their progress?

It wouldn’t surprise me if you told me you’d heard this barrage of information before. Anyone who studied Sociology A-level will no doubt be tired of hearing about the ‘gender gap.’ Yet, despite the fact that nationally we are aware that women are earning less, we still argue that feminism is no longer needed in today’s society. Despite all the evidence of a patriarchal society Feminism is still a dirty word. Why?The stereotype of a feminist is the Radical Feminists of the 1970’s. These women publicly burnt their bras and hated men. Statements such as, ‘All men are potential rapists’ and ‘a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle’ made this approach to women’s rights unpopular. After asking several of my male and female friends what they most associate with Feminists the most popular choices were, ‘bra burning’, ‘lesbian’ and ‘man haters’.
So I looked up Feminism in a dictionary. The dictionary definition of Feminism is ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.’ Nothing about burning your bra, hating men or being a lesbian then. In fact, surely every well informed person would believe men and women are equal and should be treated as such.

Emily Davison of the suffragette movement died under the king’s horse in 1913 for women’s right to vote. A century later and women are rejecting the idea of Feminism all together. The word ‘Feminist’ has been misconstrued. To be a feminist you do not have to wear trousers or dump your boyfriend. And for men, being a feminist doesn’t make you a ‘poof’. Every person I know believes in equal rights for men and women. Therefore every person I know is, by definition, a feminist.

Our generation has seen the world change in countless ways (with the birth of the internet, the invention of the mobile phone etc.) yet we still live in a society in which women are treated differently to men. We jumped at the chance to march against the increase in Student Fees, but a ‘Rights for Women’ march would probably have been less popular. The word ‘Feminist’ needs rebranding. It has been claimed by patriarchal society and filled with negative connotations. Surely in 2011 men and woman can stand up for equal rights. Surely, the word feminist need no longer be a taboo.

My name is Alexandra Wilks and I always wear a skirt, love wearing red lipstick and enjoy receiving flowers. My name is Alexandra Wilks and I am a Feminist.


Girl, You’re a Tragedy.

It is 12.29 pm. I am sitting in my room which is in on its usual destructive path to mess. I am wearing my boyfriend’s extra large nike hoodie, no bra, and my navy blue tracksuit bottoms. Oh and a ripped t-shirt which I slept in. My hair is unbrushed. A mug of tea and a biscuit is all I have eaten all day. Needless to say I have not showered. It is a Monday and most people have been at work for been at work for 3 plus hours. I battled my way through my required reading til the early hours of today, only to find out my lecture was on a film by Jean Luc Godard (which of course I have not watched). Oh, the irony.

When I naively imagined students at university (we’re talking from the ages of say 15 to 17) I imagined arty, intense, bright young men and women with earnest eyes and thick rimmed black glasses. Girls who wear polo necks and don’t shave their legs. Boys who drink port and roll filterless cigarettes, their hands shaking from too much coffee. I imagine them staying up til the early hours in libraries with decaying books and soft lamp light and only a black sugarless coffee to keep them company. I can hear their excited cries as they debate (note: not argue) about politics sitting in tight circles with a Communist poster on the wall. They are fiercely left wing, dangerously clever and the epitome of cool.

On my gap yah, I worked on average 60 hours a week. I got up at 5.45 every day and I was pretty much happy about it. I liked my job and I certainly liked the money. Now I complain when I have to get up for a 9 o clock lecture. This semester I have EVERY Thursday and Friday off, and Wednesday off every other week. Being a student has not made me go to the theatre, become radically political (or even know very much about politics), use the library (although I should seeing as I study Literature), boycott Nike or Nestle or whatever company beginning with N is being boycotted these days.

Sadly, the girls and boys of my imagination are probably few and far between and the face of Student Britain probably looks a lot more like me. Usually drunk, wearing ridiculous outfits, eating pasta and spending almost every day in their pajamas and not knowing exactly how to access the library.