I’m tired of fighting.

I’m a 20-year-old woman in her final semester of university, and in my spare time I write and edit for this website that I started almost a year ago. I haven’t posted much recently for two reasons: firstly, I’ve been working on a dissertation among a few other deadlines at university, and secondly, I’m exhausted.

My friends all like to wind me up for being a feminist. They like to tell me about stupid things people have said who claim to be feminist but aren’t (if you hate men, you’re not a feminist, so if you would kindly stop dragging the rest of us down, I’d be grateful). I have colleagues too, everyone enjoys telling me about stupid things ‘feminists’ have done, or how they enjoy taking them down online. Obviously, for them, it’s very funny, but for me, it’s wearing. I always clarify what feminism is and why I believe in it, but it doesn’t stop it. 

“Power to the Girls”

When I see girls, particularly younger girls and teens wearing t-shirts that say anything feminist, I smile. I’m so glad that the work of previous generations won’t end, and I’m hopeful that the future will be better. But I’m also not an idiot. I know full well that some minds won’t be changed. I know that Trump isn’t going to come out tomorrow and say ‘Gee those feminists are on to something’, nor are the Daily Mail going to cover female politicians saying ‘aren’t these women smart and powerful’ instead of talking about their legs (don’t get me started).

I know we aren’t equal. We don’t think equal. And I can’t help but agree with Emma Watson in thinking that we won’t be equal. I don’t see equality in my lifetime. I’d love to, but if it took a woman getting crushed by a horse to get us the bloody vote, I dare not ask what it would take to get where we want to be. 

I’m a feminist. I don’t really care about my personal equal pay because I’m paid the same as my male colleagues, but I care about the statistics suggesting black women lose out on almost 40% of white men’s wages1234. It’s not about me, but I still care about it. I raise an issue with men’s pressure to be manly and unemotional as it leads to dangerous numbers of suicides and mental health issues. I struggle with the international treatment of women such as FGM, truancy because of periods, rape, child marriage, and so on. It’s not something I will experience in this country, so should I just turn a blind eye? No, because I’m not an arsehole. This is deathly important and we’re all just making out like it’s not our problem.

The skirt in question…

I face issues in this country that anger me on a daily basis. It was the hottest weekend of the year so far recently so naturally, I wore a skirt, but with trainers and a long sleeve top. That didn’t matter though, legs were visible, so three different men in cars slowed to shout things or whistle. You can bet that made me feel horrible. I wanted to put my jeans back on and suffer in the heat because I felt so uncomfortable that 3 different cars of men felt perfectly comfortable to make comments on my appearance and sexualise me. It’s absolutely disgusting. It is not a compliment to make someone feel unsafe. I don’t need to excuse myself, that is not a compliment.  

I’m really sick of being called girly for liking pink, watching a lot of Julia Roberts films, and shopping excessively. These things make me happy (plus I walk double my normal steps a day when I shop so at least I’m exercising), but it’s stupid because I’m a girl and girls are stupid. I’m just so fed up. I could honestly just curse for hours and throw things because I’m so damn sick of all of it.

Why should I get stressed out because I care about something that is inherently right? It is moral, and just. It is not that we are asking a lot, we are asking for life as it should be. I should not be less than a man, nor treated less than, because I am not less than a man. I am equal. I am equal to a man. 

The necklace I now wear on a daily basis

I’m so tired of doing this. Sometimes I don’t want to do it anymore. Sometimes I think, like right now, that I don’t want to be a feminist anymore because it’s so much hard work and no one cares in the slightest what I think. I feel as though I’m wasting my time, and annoying my friends. It’s ridiculous. I shouldn’t have to fight in the first place, let alone be questioned for doing the right thing. I know I’ll post this and someone will either question a point I have made, or people will continue to joke about being a woman or a feminist and how I am lesser.

As someone who struggles to keep her head up a great deal of the time, I don’t really need the extra negative emotion that comes with pushing the way I do. I’m constantly down, or humiliated, or angered, or panicked, or uncomfortable and I could cry just thinking about how bad I am made to feel. I just want it to stop.

I’m doing the right thing. So either join me or leave me alone because I can’t leave this fight. I made a commitment, I started a platform to help, and I can’t quit. It’s so exhausting and even if I don’t want to do it anymore, I have to. If you have no support to offer, I’d kindly ask you to leave off, and save everyone the unnecessary negative emotion; there’s enough going around as it is. 

The Guardian: ‘Gender wage gap costs minority women more than $1m in some states
2 National Women’s Law Centre: ‘The Lifetime Wage Gap by State for Black Women
Bustle: ‘8 Startling Statistics That Show How The Pay Gap Affects Women Of Color Differently
4 American Association of University Women: ‘The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap

Words and images by Briony Brake

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5 comments

  1. It’s almost ironic how many times feminists are mistakenly accused of hating men, as there seems to be an almost general belief that feminism equals men hate. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth as feminism is strongly linked with a desire for men and women to be equal – to be given equal pay for doing the same type of work, being given the same rights in society, being treated fairly and not sexualised because of their gender or what they decide to wear on a hot day (in your case – who wouldn’t wear a skirt on a boiling summer’s day?!) and so on. However, personal preferences to identify as feminists should not only be limited to women alone, given that both men and people who don’t identify with either gender are just as likely to identify as feminists and strive towards gender equality in society. It’s an important topic to discuss, which is why I’m glad that you chose it for your blog post. Although we’ve come a long way since women were first given the right to vote (1928 in the UK), there is still a lot of room for improvement both in this country and around the world. Feminism is needed now more than ever!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your reply, it’s great to hear your thoughts. I’m glad you agree on so many points in the article, and it certainly makes me feel a bit more hopeful to hear positive responses than negative ones as I already mentioned. I agree that there’s a lot of work to be done, so I guess we wait and see!

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  2. Hi Briony,

    Thanks for this post, it resonated with me because I too have had some similar thoughts.

    I’m glad you’re a feminist and I’d like to thank you for that. I can’t comprehend why anyone would not want to be one and it’s quite saddening to know that many people, men and women aren’t.

    I think it’s extremely damaging that some world leaders cannot endorse equal rights of any kind. Ivanka Trump recently (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRPt8vzhYOQ) at a women’s summit of all places praised her father, and again I can’t comprehend why. Is there something we aren’t seeing behind closed doors that makes him such a supportive advocate for women? I don’t think so.

    I also share your distaste for the daily mail and the Sun for that matter. The Sun’s front page today had a part which encouraged women to “rate their rear” with an image of Kim Kardashian’s bum on display. Not only have they proven to be sexist and extremely disrespectful towards women and also men in terms of body image and mental health, but asking women to rate themselves and constantly compare and contrast themselves to other women is very damaging.

    I’m sorry you had to go through that with your skirt. I get very anxious when considering what to wear on a hot day. I’m very wary about even going to the local park in a vest top in case anyone looks or comments. I’ve also had experiences where men whistle as they go past in their cars and being objectified is not nice at all. Although some women may enjoy it, I don’t. I don’t like wearing skirts or dresses and would always prefer to wear jeans even in summer. I don’t know if that’s just my own insecurities or if I’ve subconsciously been made to feel uncomfortable by other people.

    Although I could probably moan for ages ( I understand when you say you don’t want to bother your friends) I’ll stop now, but occasionally it is important to release as you’ve done the heavy thoughts and feelings that you have inside, and blogging can be a great way.

    Stay strong 🙂

    Aimee Winkfield

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  3. A very meaningful post – I really enjoyed it. Whenever I talk about gender inequality with my younger sister (she is fifteen), she is so shocked and amazed to hear the truth. My sister and many of her friends are just so uninformed. Even though feminism is very important for many of us, many others do not seem to understand what it is all about.

    Your skirt incident is so relatable. I usually spend most of my summer at the beach and practically everyday either me, one of my friends or all of us have to experience some kind of sexualisation. We are at the beach, we are wearing a bikini, obviously. However, what should be a relaxing and carefree day turns into a constant reminder that we are sex objects. Men do not miss the opportunity to stare at us from top to bottom whenever we go for a swim or we play beach tennis. I used to go and buy ice-cream (in a shop nearby) in my bikini just like everyone else. I do not anymore, in a distance of about 50 metres from the beach to the shop, I had to hear, more than once, sexualised comments shouted at me. However, why should we have to feel like we have to cover ourselves?

    I really do understand why you are tired, it is very frustrating to see how people can be so blinded. But we are all in this together.

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  4. A post that is all too clue to my heart. It seems ironic in this day and age to think that we have actually come so far as a gender. I mean, is this really the best we are going to get? Like you said, it seems hard to think of a time where we would ever be equal to men. The amount of times where I have gone out in a summer dress or a skirt and through all my self judging and own personal body woes, I have felt okay about myself. For a men to think it’s okay to shout at us out of car windows and slow down in their cars to our walking pace, allowing us to feel like eyes on us as we walk quicker up the road. It’s truly disgusting! and something that i’m sure many of us deal with on a day to day basis. Even at work i receive countless sexist and inappropriate comments that I feel as though i cannot comment on, I just put it down to pure ignorance and narrow mindedness. It’s important for us to remember that we are strong, educated and thoughtful human beings who deserve so much more than to be acknowledged for our bodies and our sexual potential to please men. You’re right! it is tiring! but lets not let us stop us believing in, educating others and trying to achieve what we think is right!

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