“The way things are”: fight the status quo

I am a white, middle-class British woman, and my privilege is sticking right out as I write this. However, I wish to highlight that even for someone of my privileged status, feminism’s work is not yet done. On International Women’s Day, I send solidarity to my sisters all over the world. I will fight for them wherever I can.

Women in the UK have come a long way. Nominally, we’re equal now. Legally, we’re supposed to be equal now. What women lack is now invisible and counted by many as a gender essentialist ‘this is how things are’. Apparently, any residual inequality exists because men and women are fundamentally different and that women must have chosen differently.

Women are  severely under-represented in the sciences and engineering because our brains are better suited to empathy rather than analysis. There’s science to back that up, and everything!* It’s just the way things are.

Sex is something that is sold to women as part of a long game to please a man. Try typing “how to please” into Google. Autocomplete provides “how to please your man”, “how to please your man in bed”, “how to please your man sexually” and so on. Sex still isn’t really for women, or else we’d be sluts. It’s just the way things are.

The end game for sex is to get a ring on your finger. The end game is always marriage, evidenced by countless jokes and supposedly amusing t-shirts. It’s just the way things are.

Walking along a street while appearing female is enough to merit catcalls, overt sexual messages and unwanted touching. It’s supposed to be a compliment, we’re told. It’s just the way things are.

Some of my sisters from other countries in Europe tell me that British men are better. They’re more polite, apparently. There’s less groping and what they say is less sexually aggressive. As women, of course we should expect harassment, and British women are lucky that our brand of harassment is marginally less noxious. It’s just the way things are.

You might think I sound like some kind of angry radical feminist. That would be because I am some kind of angry radical feminist.

I refuse to accept “the way things are”. I want better. I think we women deserve better. I dream of the day where women are not objects, not punchlines, not walking wombs or disembodied tits. I want to bury, once and for all, that “the way things are” is as good as it will ever get. Women deserve better. Women deserve to be treated as people. Just people. Ordinary people who are not in any way different.

Perhaps some of the lack of fight against this status quo, the blind acceptance of “the way things are” lies in the fact that the word “feminist” is seen to be a dirty word: an irrational woman fighting an imaginary battle, when really she just hates men. Surely our work has been done, because we aren’t automatically packed off to the poorhouse if we can’t find a husband?

I don’t think our work is done. Discrimination has taken on a covert form, and we are sold the myth that this is what equality looks like.

That is not what equality looks like.

If you agree, you might just be an angry radical feminist, too.

*The “evidence” for this assertion is completely demolished in this rather fantastic book, which I would thoroughly recommend.

26 thoughts on ““The way things are”: fight the status quo”

  1. so a working class man with no education, hasnt got a degree, hasnt got a hope is worse off than you? you may have a glass ceiling to break through but he can’t even see the ceiling. and as for working class women, they are the same as you? if you believe that your demented

    1. Hello!
      I think you may have misread the post; the post was specific to areas of improvement for women. What you’re talking about here is the concept of “kyriarchy“, which wasn’t the topic of this post. I’d thoroughly recommend you read around the issue. Happy International Women’s Day!

      1. Aw look- you got your first ‘what about da menz’ response. Welcome to writing about women. Next task-write about rape or abortion- we can play bingo with the responses you get there.

        Denis- I am a working class woman, and as a working class woman I believe that class is a really big deal in limiting options. When you combine class and gender you should see what happens. Poverty central with no way out and you get blamed for it!

    2. Oooh, ooh, no, I can do better! What about a working class black bisexual trans man with one leg whose dog just died and who is actively in the process of being run over by a bus? I bet he has a shittier life than the OP, too!


  2. Great article, well thought out and intelligent. One point however – you complain about the number of “how to please your man” articles on Google, but surely there are as many “how to please your woman” ones as well. Could you consider that maybe there are so many of these because a lot of women want to please their partners/husbands simply because they love them, just as a lot of men want to know how best to make their partner/wife happy?

    Like I said, great article, I wish you luck!

    1. Your central point is a good and correct one, but it ignores the reasons behind the existence of these articles. “How to make your man happy” stuff is loaded with echoes of the historical power imbalance between men and women whereas “how to please your woman” articles tend to be well-meaning fluff. Massive generalisations both, of course, but worth noting.

    2. You make some good points, but there is a huge difference in numbers of both searches and articles retrieved. Also, check out some women’s magazines (at your peril) to observe the link between pleasing and keeping a man. I do not proclaim to be a voice of objective reality here, but it’s certainly how I see it.

  3. re: whatabouttehmenz:


    This whatabouttehmenz? response to any criticism of dodgy feminist argument is a way of avoiding the argument.

    The first commmenter here made a totally valid point and then was opened up to ridicule and told to ‘educate’ himself which is patronising at the very least. Maybe he has educated himself and this is the conclusion he has reached?

    I am very well educated in gender and I believe feminism to be wrong in its assertions.

    1. Perhaps you’d care to explain why the assertions of feminism are wrong?

      Furthermore, you may have noticed that I simply gently informed the first poster that he was discussing something tangential to the point of the thread and linked to a concept with which he may not have been familiar.

      I fail to understand how pointing out to somebody that there is a name for what they are thinking is in any way wrong.

      1. Perhaps the assertions are just meaningless?

        Define the “patriarchy” for me. Have fun trying

        Also tell me what a “misogynist society” actually means

        “male oppression”, does oppression have a gender? hint: no it doesn’t

        “Equality for women”, as if equality can only work one way. Implying you don’t want equality for men, and then some other feminist vociferously argues that is not what feminism is “about” at all. And not being able to see the contradiction

        I could go on, or I could start on the misused stats. As I have said a couple of times today, all the above (and more) is propaganda, political rhetoric sometimes posing as academic scholarship. The point of propaganda is to give people a warped, simplified view of history (and the present) for greater power of ‘women’ rather than

        Feminism is politics, and as such should be treated with the appropriate respect.

        Will that do?

    2. You “believe feminism to be wrong in its assertions”. What might they be? That we should strive for gender equality?

      I am genuinely interested in the problem you have with feminism.

  4. Excellent, articulate fem thoughts for #IWD hun!

    I always find the idea that ‘the end game is marriage’ an interesting dichotomy. I believe all women should have the right to be in charge of their own sexuality, and that people of all genders should only have the sex that they chose and that gives them pleasure.

    However, as a straight woman who prefers to have sex in a comitted relationship and sees marriage as something I one day want, does that mean I’m being anti-feminist? Is it ok to pick that role because I choose it, rather than because society says its my only choice?

    I don’t know – it raises a v interesting issue.

    Fab post!

    1. Cheers darling.

      Freedom to choose is what we’re fighting for here, and if that’s what you want then you should be free to have it. To hell with societal expectations! Of course it doesn’t make you anti-feminist, you can *see* the implications and discuss them articulately 🙂

    1. What do you mean “a made up thing”? Do you mean “a concept that was previously inadequately described to here’s an attempt to do a better job”? It’s a “thing” whether you like it or not, I’m afraid.

      1. No I mean it is a vague term used to try and make out there is structured oppression where there isn’t. same as ‘patriarchy’ really. Only trying to sound more nuanced. Because patriarchy has been shown to be a figment of feminists’ imaginations.

  5. Thanks for this great post! Some great thoughts there and I like the honesty that comes from noticing and addressing your own privilege while still supporting a feminist message.

  6. Clearly as women are continually the result of immense inequalities,(socially and economically), feminism is still hugely needed as a corrective direction. In an equal world it would be different, but we don’t live in an equal world. I don’t know enough to work out if i’m a feminist or not but what i do know is that feminism is definatley needed.

    There is also a problem with subjective experience here. I once tried being a vegetarian for a while. It didn’t work, but what it did do was open my eyes to how ridiculously geared towards meat most food consumerism was. As a man, without being particularly well read on the subject matter, i suspect my instinctive view of feminism is equally misinformed.

    anyway, is nice reading some well placed and necessary rage.

    happy IWD

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