In the light of International Women’s Day, questions surrounding the tentative subject of feminism have been sailing around campus on a cloud of uncertainty. And yes, that might have been the most poetic thing I’ve ever said in an article.

Amanda ValaitisPhoto: Flickr/Amanda Valaitis

In my mind, feminism is quite simple. As Rebecca West famously said, “feminism is the radical notion that women are people”, to me feminism is simple want of equality and fairness.

But in the same way that feminism  is an unfixed, ever-changing concept, it would be true to say that everyone has their own interpretation on what feminism means to them. Since coming to uni I’ve had a few defining moments where I’ve felt my inner feminist stir – and I mean that in the least egotistical, least “look at me I’m a raging feminist” possible way.

The first came in a lecture when our lecturer asked us to raise our hands if we considered ourselves a feminist. What got me wasn’t that very few people raised their hand but that not everyone raised their hand. While I couldn’t say I was surprised that the men left their hands firmly on their laps, I was shocked by the lack of women to raise their hands. Another moment came when I heard the words – from a girl – “I don’t give a shit about feminism”.

Why is feminism such a dirty word?

I think the problem is that the image of a feminist  is firmly imprinted in our minds as butch, man-hating, hairy lady. Now I’m not saying that this kind of feminist doesn’t exist. They definitely are not mythical creatures, they have houses and a mortgage and everything. But just because you aren’t all of these things I don’t think it means you can’t consider yourself a feminist. Isn’t it enough to believe and strive for equal rights for men and women alike? Being a feminist isn’t and shouldn’t be a female dominated interest; men should want to strive for this equality as well.

Have these eccentricities ruined feminism? I’m beginning to feel that what certain radical feminists want is world domination rather than fairness, with some thoughts and ideas skewed into almost fascist-like reasoning.

The idea that women should not be strippers or, with relevance to UEA experience, join the pole dancing society is another notion that irritates me no end ; feminism should not look to restrict the choices of women. Doesn’t that defeat the whole object in the first place? I’ll join the pole dancing society if I want to, and yes, I will parade down a cat walk in a bikini if it means raising money for an orphanage in Kenya. Well bloody done, KAOS girls.

So what does feminism mean to me? Quite frankly, it means I’ll do as I damn well please.