Do you know about Lewis’s Law? It was a sentiment coined by Helen Lewis (Deputy Editor of the New Statesman), who said that the comments after any article about feminism show why we still need feminism.
It’s a fairly nifty rule of thumb, and one that so far has turned out to be true (in my very scientific study of, me, reading feminist articles when I want to – which is quite a lot, obviously).
Take this comment piece on the Guardian’s website today:
It is about the Renault Clio advert. This particular paragraph about sexism is one of the better ones I’ve read recently:
“Here’s a handy recap: men still hold a disproportionately high number of powerful positions in politics and business, so sexism is an institutional problem. The world remains fundamentally unequal for women. That’s why it’s not particularly “humorous” or “fun” to portray them as erotic props to help you sell things. That’s why you need to think a bit harder about how you represent women in advertising and that’s why you should choose camera angles that show their heads as well as their breasts. Not a lot to ask.”
She’s right, it isn’t a lot to ask. And the comments underneath are suitably scathing about her being a humourless feminist, or have been removed by the moderator. I am a feminist. Since reading the excellent How to be a Woman I call myself a strident feminist. others call me a humourless feminist.
Yes, they may be right. But I wonder if that is because their sense of humour is a bit shit really, or because they are not very aware about what it actually means to be a woman in 2013.
Part of the reason I am a humourless feminist is because I clearly need to be. When I was a teenager in the 90s it felt like we were on the cusp of something. I remember reading articles in Cosmo magazine about how in the future women would choose not to change their name on marriage, and it would be as common to keep your maiden name as it would to change it (albeit next to an article about how to get your guy, and then how to keep your guy happy in bed, but let’s leave that one for now). I remember the introduction of the term Ms. I remember thinking that by the time I am raising children and I am in my 30s the world will look different for them.
It does look different. We’ve gone backwards and it makes me angry. I remember being able to play with the same lego that my brother had (he was older, no gender comment there!) and not feel like I needed to build stables and kitchens out of pink and purple lego while he built spaceships. Is there a term for snowblind when the colour you’re being blinded by is pink?*
For the love of sanity, can we get some actual creative from marketing companies, who are brave and bold and recognise women as human beings? Is that too much to ask?
So for now, I’ll remain a humourless feminist, and I think those that label me as such are wilfully ignorant.
*Let it be noted that I don’t hate the colour pink for itself. My daughter loves it too. I do object to it being the only choice (or the only colour out of bounds) because of gender.