Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

Feminism and the World According To Lily Allen

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This morning I logged on to FaceBook to do some mindless meandering before reading some real stuff. I was numbly perusing postings about the weather (rain, again?) and someone’s cute kid doing something amazingly cute, when I saw an article from NME magazine that made me almost spit my coffee all over my computer. It was an interview with Lily Allen (British pop singer) titled “Lily Allen: Feminism shouldn’t even be a thing anymore”.  What the….??? Now, Allen likes to fan the flames, push the buttons and stir the pot. She’s into the shameless hype schtick and that’s all fine and well, but I think that Allen needs a crash course in pulling one’s head out of one’s arse and maybe a little Feminism 101.

Lily Allen
Lily Allen

In the interview she states that everyone is “equal” in the modern world. Whew. That’s really good news. I am actually relieved to hear that. I mean, I actually agree. We are all equal. Problem is, people- sometimes the government, sometimes the military, sometimes the judicial system- don’t always adhere to that simple premise.

A few cases in point. This week a Massachusetts judge ruled that “Upskirting” was not illegal. So, if you would like to take a picture or videotape a woman’s nether regions without her consent or knowledge, go right ahead. Heck, it’s a fair assumption that if you can figure out a way to get a camera down her shirt that would be ok too!

Also this week, our Senate in the U.S. blocked a vote that would overhaul the procedures for prosecuting sexual assaults in the military. Right now the system isn’t working. According to the Pentagon, last year soldiers were 15 times more likely to be raped by a comrade than killed by the enemy.

The current system forces the victims to report assaults to their commanders.  The problem is that the commanders often know both the victim and the accused. In some cases, the commander is the accused. Add to that the Department of Labor’s statistics that 62% of victims who reported a sexual assault were retaliated against.

An Army General just this week pled guilty to sexual assault.

A Brig. General pled guilty to inappropriate relationships with two female Army officers and is being investigated for forcing another to have oral sex and threatening her family.

And the Army’s top sex crimes prosecutor is being investigated for allegedly groping a female lawyer at a sexual assault conference.

So you can see the problem with victims reporting these assaults when the very people at the highest ranks are sometimes guilty of the thing they are supposed to be investigating.

But our Senate chose to block a vote.

Not vote it down.

There was majority support for this bill. But they blocked the vote from even happening.

One has to wonder if it was primarily men being raped by other men, would this vote have been blocked? One has to wonder if there would be a bigger sense of urgency on the issue? Meanwhile women in the military are left to fend for themselves in an incestuous system that is clearly not serving their needs well.

Allen offers the theory that women are the problem because we are inherently envious and judgmental of each other. Yes, that is a problem. We need to build each other up, not knock each other down. But it is not The problem.

The problem is that women are still viewed as commodities. As less than. Even in the Western world. It is estimated that 1 in 5 women will experience rape or attempted rape during their college years.

The problem is a society, of which we all are a part, that doesn’t tackle misogyny. That objectifies women. A problem this big doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The men that perpetrate these crimes seem to have the view that women are there for their use and disposal. And too many times our judicial system doesn’t see fit to investigate or prosecute these crimes.

Then there’s this piece of sage wisdom from Ms. Allen:

Feminism. I hate that word because it shouldn’t even be a thing anymore,” she said. “We’re all equal, everyone is equal. Why is there even a conversation about feminism? What’s the man version of feminism? There isn’t even a word for it. Menanism. Male-ism. It doesn’t exist.

You hate that word, Ms. Allen, because you don’t understand it’s meaning.

You have willfully and blindly gone the way of the sheep and bought into the misinformation and propaganda that has been slowly oozing it’s way through our culture over the last few decades. Like a bad smell, this has been wafting around enough that you don’t even notice it anymore or realize it’s noxious nature.

Feminism isn’t some foul thing that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

That would be the bitter taste of lies and obfuscation.

Feminism is the basic fight for equal rights for women.

Equal pay for equal work.

The right to vote.

The right to join the military and not be raped.

The right to not have your body exposed and recorded by some creep with a cell phone.

The right to go to college and not be sexually assaulted.

Basic human rights of decency.

And here’s another thought, Ms. Allen.

While you’re sitting in your comfy home enjoying the life of a woman of privilege, please remember that feminism is not only a Western construct. To assume that Feminism is no longer a “thing” because we have the right to vote, we hold political office, etc….  well, that’s just ignoring about half of the world isn’t it?

There are women around the world who are fighting to not be stoned to death for having sex out of wedlock.

There are women fighting for the right to drive.

There are women fighting to stop the heinous act of female circumcision.

There are women fighting for their lives, to not be a piece of property under the law.

The fight for basic human rights is still going on in too many parts of the world.

And any time you or any other woman who is riding high because of the very cause that you demean, you are diminishing the battles these women are still fighting.

We’ve come quite far in the west, but don’t be fooled into thinking that we’re done fighting here. I know what world I want my daughters to grow up in. And it’s not a world that gives them a 20% chance of being raped in college. It’s not a world in which a woman who’s been raped is shamed and told that she’d be better off just letting it go.

And it’s certainly not a world in which we turn a blind eye to the injustices happening to our sisters around the world.

If you don’t want to listen to me, then please hear this from a truly wise and brilliant woman. Amy Poehler was asked in an interview with Elle magazine, about being a feminist and about feminist deniers. She said this:

But I don’t get it. That’s like someone being like, “I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.

In her succinct and magnificent way, she’s telling you, Ms. Allen, that you are driving the very car that you love, that gets you where you need to go. But at the same time you don’t believe in it. And in your case, maybe you’re confused about what it is. But trust me, you’re driving a car that wasn’t built by Detroit, you’re rolling through life on wheels that are powered by an engine that wouldn’t be possible without feminists.

So, please reconsider Ms. Allen.

Consider the victims fighting for justice in an ambiguous system.

Consider that feminism is not an issue just for the modern world.

Consider why there is no male version of feminism.

Take a minute and ponder that.

You may, without even realizing it, see that you made your own case for feminism.

29 Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Part Time Monster and commented:
    I’ll allow that everyone is equal in principle, at least in the West. If you think everyone is equal in practice, you’re daft. This deserves a read, so please read it.

    1. I would hope so. Or she maybe wouldn’t care. To so cavalierly speak about feminism and reduce it to women’s petty jealousies makes me think she really wouldn’t care. Hopefully I’m wrong!

  2. I’ve never understood the school of thought where you say something outrageous and piss people off and expect it to work out in the long run and yield something positive. Yeah she made some headlines, but I’m sure she lost a ton of respect, especially amongst her fans.

    1. I honestly don’t know if her intention was to be outrageous or if she really believes what she says. She has been known to be a little sensationalistic in the past and likes to push the boundaries. I’m thinking that if this was an attempt at getting attention to gain album sales it was not a saavvy ploy. I was not a big fan and really had no opinion of her. Until I read that article….

    1. Yes, I had heard that there were some lawmakers seeking to do that. I did not know that it had already been resolved! Thank you for letting me know! And thank you for taking the time to read this too!

    1. It was a bit of a rant. I felt much better after writing it. I think there was literally steam coming out of my ears when I read her quotes that morning! I love the way you worded this too. You very eloquently summed up what took me over 1,000 words to say!

      1. Yes, catharsis! And there are good things in life that need us to get fired up about.

        Thank you for seeing eloquence, and awesome that I could sum up what I think needed 1000 words.

        I’ll be the jacket of the book, you’re the book, so to speak.

  3. She was projecting and must have serious issues with other females. It pains me when women complain about women being jealous of one another and categorizing them all as “envious and judgmental of one another.” Often women who speak like this are nothing more than female misogynists who inherently subscribe to the supremacy of men and want the rest of us to join so they feel better about their submission. I have been educated, helped and nurtured by women. Women have shown me that the shallow narrow caricature paints Ms. Allen of as in is untrue. I would boycott her music but as she has never made a penny off of me my sanctions would simply prove ineffective.

    1. It especially angers me when people (out of ignorance or malice) distort the meaning of the word. Her words only make women look petty and childish. To blame that on Feminism is appalling. Thank you so much for your insightful comments!

  4. At the core of this issue is the attitude of men towards women. Starts at home, on the dining table and in the kitchen. In India, post-Dec 2012, there has been an awakening of sorts and more and more cases – even against the high and mighty – are getting reported. Last year saw a senior judge, a media honcho and several others being investigated for their alleged sexual escapades. As argued sometime back in a post of mine, men should try wearing skirts more often!

    1. Thank you for reading this and for re-blogging it! I agree, it does start at home. With how the parents treat each other, how they treat others and what they say to and in front of their children. I am going to find that post of yours and read it… I like that “men should try wearing women’s skirts”!

  5. Reblogged this on Natacha Guyot and commented:
    This well articulated post sums up why I support Feminism and why it still has a needed place in the world and its societies. Since today is International Women’s Day, it makes even more sense to share this post. Thank you Gretchen Kelly!

  6. Reblogged this on Rose B Fischer and commented:
    I saw this going around, and I wanted to add my thoughts. I think that Lilly Allen’s comments display a frightening level of ignorance and Western entitlement/privilege.

    With that said, I do think that part of the problem is that “feminism” has taken on a very negative connotation. For myself, I support equality across all social strata, but I’m often mystified by public statements and attitudes that get pushed as feminism.

    I know that there are a great many intelligent, open-minded women who consider themselves feminists, but for me the word “feminism” is often associated with belligerence, intolerance of men, and just pettiness or plain stupidity.

    We need to acknowledge that and look at some of the reasons for it.

    1. I think the crux of the problem with the word “feminism” is that there has been a lot of people (mostly men) who have sought to disparage the word. Yes, there have been a few in the movement, especially in the 60’s who took on a “man-hating” vibe. In every movement you have extremists. But the core of feminism is equal rights for women. Period. People like Rush Limbaugh have actively tried to demonize the word. They have tried to paint all feminists as man-hating vigilantes. I addressed this very issue in an earlier post. That’s part of what drove me to write this and the previous post about this issue. Too many people have bought into the caricature version of what a feminist is. There are women doing amazing things all over the world in the name of feminism. I really appreciate you sharing this post on your blog!

      1. You’re welcome. Like I said, I know that there are plenty of intelligent, open-minded feminists out there who are doing good things. My negative impressions of the word feminism don’t come from Rush Limbaugh or other male extremists. They come from non-celebrity women I’ve known (now, in the new millennium, not in the 1960s) who use being a feminist as an excuse to put forward reverse sexism and treat men like second-class citizens. That isn’t advocating equal rights, it’s asking for a class of privilege.

    1. It is incredibly frustrating for sure! Some of us bloggers have been having an on-going discussion about feminism in gender and the label with all of it’s “baggage”, most recently discussing what is the most pressing issue in regards to feminism today. Here’s the link to the thread, we love to have anyone who’s interested in joining the conversation to pop in and leave their thoughts!

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