S is for the master of the contemporary novel, the incomparable Ali Smith.
Whilst I do not wish to tarnish this post with a rant, nor to turn my innocent book account into a platform for political dispute, I feel the need to vent my feelings on something I just read in the press. Please do go back through my feed and you will find plenty of celebration of Ali Smith's skill and talent. She's one of my very favourite writers. .
A certain 'controversial' journalist in the UK has today "categorised" some women participating in the recent Women's March as "rabid feminists", who "don't like men very much". I deplore this kind of language used to describe feminism. Feminists are not people who renounce their femininity; feminism is not a 'disease' spreading through the ranks; the vast majority of feminists do not hate men. One lecturer back at university, a remarkable and passionate academic, once opened my eyes to the truth behind the loaded word "feminist". On our first day in her class (this was about 4-5 years ago), she asked each person individually if they were a feminist. So many of us hesitated, were caught unawares, mumbled that we "think so" or "guess so", myself included; a couple of people (female) even said "not really". Right. Then she asked which of us believed in equal rights for men and women. Everybody put their hands up without hesitation. Well then, she said, you are all feminists. To be a feminist, regardless of your own gender, is to believe in and champion gender equality 100%. This made so much sense to me at the time, and from then on I've been able to proudly call myself a feminist, and question why I ever doubted the term in the first place. The answer, it seems, lies in the negative connotations that have historically been attached to the word, reaching as far back as the start of the feminist movement, right up to today (literally). From women scorned for relinquishing their familial duties and causing 'a disturbance', right up to women who go 'brandishing their bras' and denouncing men completely. This kind of discourse is not only desperately sad, but an inexplicably damaging influence on people of ALL generations. It has to stop.