Wednesday 21 August 2019

Joyce Fegan: Are you a convenient feminist?

Joyce Fegan
Joyce Fegan

Joyce Fegan

Are you a convenient feminist?

If so, you’ll be glad to know that you’re totally on-point and an early adaptor to the latest feminist wave.

There’s no denying it - feminism is having a bit of a moment here in Ireland. It’s thanks to brave new writers like Louise O’Neill. It’s sprouting from the ongoing shenanigans around that pesky 30pc gender quota political parties must now adhere to and of course, it’s trending because of the confessional essay Jennifer Lawrence penned last month about her pay cheque.

Also giving it that bit of a bounce is probably the news that the pay gap in Ireland, between the people with vaginas and the people with penises, lies somewhere around the 14.4pc mark. This translates to those with ovaries, working for free 55 days of the year, compared to those with testicles.

So what exactly does it mean to be a convenient feminist?

It’s the social media superstar who regularly instagrams pretty picture quotes to her tens of thousands of followers that read: “The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine.”

This  star then follows this lovely thought up with 15 if not 20 photo-shopped images of her on magazine covers, filtered images from red carpet appearances and staged sleepy Sunday morning selfies.

Another example would be the early-adaptor friend, you know the one who’s always first with everything? This convenient feminist would have tweeted up a storm about Louise O’Neill’s book Asking For It back in September, without having read the blurb on the back or being aware of her previous literary offering, Only Ever Yours – which was of equal feministic value.

This same convenient feminist was simultaneously body shaming anonymous women on Twitter while uploading pouting selifes. The selfies were shot from above to include an accidental helping of cleavage.

Convenient feminism is not just a virtual affair. This one works in an office full of men and proudly and loudly flies the feminist flag, but at the first sight of another human being with the same sexual organs as hers, she’ll be racing to hold the door firmly shut behind her.

She will also be the one to go for the post-work pints with the ‘bhoys’, relishing her unique role at being ‘the one’ let into the exclusive B-club.

The convenient feminist is not dissimilar to anyone who talks a good game but fails to make it out on to the pitch, whatever the arena.

The convenient feminist will have shared the link to that J-Law essay in Lena Dunham’s new Lenny offering while ignoring, a female’s courageous and public move, closer to home - like Senator Averil Power resigning from Fianna Fail last May.

A Hollywood A-List actress breaking her silence on anything, is after all, that bit more trendy than a female politician in Dublin Bay North taking on the patriarchs.

They’ll also tweet things like #repealthe8th from the comfort of their couches but couldn’t ID a single passenger from the 1971 Contraceptive Train.

If your blood is boiling, then good, you’ve got the point. But don’t hate me. Hate hypocrisy with me.

If you’re interpreting this as a scathing attack on my sisters, you haven’t got the point. This is simply a scathing attack on hypocrisy.

By all means do your bit to help #notaskingforit #everydaysexism and #genderpaygap trend online and in society in general but also take a look at what you’re doing with the other 98pc of your time.

It’s the little things. It’s the - not shutting-up when the ‘bhoys’ in the office are having a heated debate (about anything) because you think you don’t have the smarts. It’s the - not thinking you’re being ‘too pushy’ for following up on the email for a raise and it’s the – not assimilating into that pretty-little-thing role when the older men are about the place.

But most of all – it’s about not being afraid to pop your head above the patriarchal parapet in fear of the social admonishing.

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