"We Don't Need Feminism"

By Char Shields - February 24, 2018

Scrolling through the multiple pages of online arguments, I constantly find myself feeling shocked and disappointed by one repeated statement: "We don't need feminism".

Some say we don't have a problem in the Western world, some say that we like to "make up" these problems and we should "just be happy" with what we have, and some people go that extra further step into enlightenment and say "just shut up and get back in the kitchen".

As a woman who is fully aware of the struggles and the horrors that women have to face every day, no matter where you live, I can't help but feel a sting in my heart when I hear these comments. They always bring me back to a certain day in my life, a day that proves that we do indeed need feminism.

It was a warm Spring day and the sun was beaming down over the city of Bristol, kissing my pale winter skin. Searching through my wardrobe, I picked out an outfit that I felt comfortable and cool in, I was doing a lot of walking that day. I settled for high-waist shorts, a crop top that touched the top of the shorts and reached up to my collar bone, converse and a hoodie for when it cooled down.

Looking in the mirror, I felt contented. I felt comfortable in my outfit, it looked good. My face was beaming just as bright as the sun was.

Stepping outside, I brought a hand up to my eyes as I adjusted to the blinding light. Britain had been cast in a blanket of grey skies, rain and below minus temperatures for so long. It felt good not to be bundled up in heavy coats and scarves, it felt good to feel free.

This day I was walking to university for a meeting, the walk was about 45 minutes long. I remember this walk so clearly.

I walked down the road with an almost skip in my stride and my music blasting through one headphone in my ear. But, after walking for not even five minutes, I encountered my first but certainly not the last of the creepy, perverted men of the walk.

As I waited to cross the road, an old geezer in his "posh" BMW drives past me, not before giving me a creepy look and a honk of his horn.

I walked on, trying not to show the disgust and anger I felt. It shouldn't have been a big deal, but it felt like a big deal. Who did he think he was? What right did he think he had to make a young woman he doesn't know feel uncomfortable and freaked out?

I tried to brush it off, I tried not to let it affect my mood. "He was probably beeping at something else", I tried to tell myself. However, there wasn't much time to dwell on that creep because half a minute later I was faced with two more of them.

There was a pot-hole ridden car park, that looked like it was probably forgotten about by the council, that I walked through. Anger was still boiling up inside me when I walked past two wolf-whistling, middle-aged men who were standing by a car.

I wanted to throw a middle finger up to them, I wanted to tell them to fuck off. But fear, and maybe common sense, got the better of me. Every woman knows that if you tell a cat caller where to stick it, you then have the added fear of "he could rape or kill me". So, I walked on. Fighting of the embarrassment and anger that was darkening my previous good mood.

It made me think about how much women have to face in the world. We can't simply walk down the road without feeling scared or signalled out by perverts. Sometimes, it can be even worse than that.
I was so mad that I had faced three cat callers in the space of a minute and a half. I wish it ended there.

It didn't.

Fifteen minutes later, I came out onto what was the road of hell. At least two more men beeped at me as they drove past. Tears filled my eyes and shame overcame my body. Why did I deserve this? Why couldn't I just walk to university in peace?

But it got worse.

The road I was walking down was lined up with houses, and in one house that was across the road there were a group of men, probably students around the same age as me, maybe a little older (I was 19 at the time), and they were all sitting in their living room, some by the window. One of them saw me and opened the window and starting shouting things at me. Soon, the rest of them were joining in.

The tears I was fighting so hard to hold back escaped and anger had gotten the better of me this time as I flipped them off before walking quickly on. Ooh, I sure showed them right? Of course not. They thought they were being hilarious.

How sick and twisted do you have to be to call out at a complete stranger in the streets from your home? I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole there and then.

As a woman, I couldn't even walk 45 minutes to my university without being harassed multiple times. But yet, a lot of people would say that that was my fault because, as a woman, I can't wear something that will make me feel comfortable and cool on a hot day. As a woman, I am taught that it's my fault that men can't control themselves, that it's my fault that certain men are pigs (no offence to pigs). From a young age I was taught that my body is nothing but a sexual object for men.

This isn't the only the thing that has happened to me, but it's something that sticks in my mind. It makes me think about all the things that women have to face all over the world.

The catcalling, being denied an education, being forced into a dress code that suits men, fearing your husband as he raises his hand to you once again. Russia have now even made it legal to beat your wife. There is not enough outrage, there is not enough action being done.

So, misogynists of the internet, do not tell me that we don't need feminism.

The fight is far from over, and sometimes I fear that it may never be over. But you can bet your ass that we won't be giving up any time soon.

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