I am a feminist - just not a very glamorous one

PUBLISHED: 16:00 05 February 2018

According to the designer of Beyonce's dress for the Grammys, its inspiration was rooted in the traditions of social justice. Picture: Instagram

According to the designer of Beyonce's dress for the Grammys, its inspiration was rooted in the traditions of social justice. Picture: Instagram

Archant

As celebrities battle for female empowerment, Emma Jones discusses her struggle to keep with the stars of stage and screen.

Lorde is a high profile supporter of the #MeToo movement. Picture: InstagramLorde is a high profile supporter of the #MeToo movement. Picture: Instagram

Unlike Donald Trump, who shocked no one by saying he is not one, I am a feminist.

And I wear my feminist heart, in the old-fashioned (and unfashionable) way, upon my sleeve. Not designed into a dress.

My activism does not manifest itself in high-fashion signifiers. Although I dream, one day, it will.

I am not, for example, wearing a number like the goddess Lorde, an empowerment essay hand-stitched into the bodice of a red chiffon Valentino.

Lorde's dress for the Grammys had an empowerment essay hand-stitched into its bodice. Picture: InstagramLorde's dress for the Grammys had an empowerment essay hand-stitched into its bodice. Picture: Instagram

Maybe I should wear a black gown, one that sends out the message that workplace harassment is bigger than a best-dressed list? But I hadn’t even thought of equating the two things.

I am not resplendent, like Queen Beyoncé. A fearsome hat, tipping its brim, not just to high-fashion, but to the Black Panther movement.

A gown is not just a gown anymore. Beyoncé’s ‘shut the place down’ outfit, at the Grammys, makes this point. According to her designer, Nicolas Jebran, the inspiration for the dress 
was rooted in the traditions of social justice.

“The idea was to create a moment, a memorable design with meaning, because it’s more than just a gown.”

In all fairness, it would be hard for me to pull off domestic terror cell chic, anyway. For one, I am a Welsh white woman.

If I asked my stylist (who is also me) to find a militant reference in my heritage, it would be ‘The Sons of Owain Glyndŵr’.

Their ‘look’ was a bobble hat and a donkey jacket. Anyway, I’m not alone. The American style-justice movement, has yet to catch on over here.

The Emmerdale starlets, at the NTAs, are evidence that the message has not reached the Dales.

We must create our own movement, one that can cope with poor weather, our less glamorous life-styles. Today, I am wearing a rain-proof puffa and my son’s trackie bottoms. It is a feminist message, of sorts. Wind-cheating, gender-neutral, and a mild annoyance to a moody teen.

But there are other reasons why I’m dressed like this, too. Reasons which go to the heart of the feminist struggle.

Income, lack of – I can’t afford designer. And circumstances. I’m not going out anywhere. For most women, suffering under the patriarchy, these are familiar reasons.

They stop the feminist movement from nailing the inequality that stands in the way of empowerment. Without money and access we are meaningless.

Access to abortions. Money to pay for them. Childcare. The gateway to independence and freedom. Jobs that pay well.

And it costs society, too. Men commit 90% of violent crime – that alone should motivate the government.

The cost of masculine aggression runs into tens of billions of pounds every year.

The list goes on – and never really changes much.

Even the PR uplift, from bringing down male TV presenters’ pay packets, doesn’t go near it. If it did, they might have increased the women’s wages instead, to match the men. But no.

Luckily, we have other ammunition. The new thing goes further than just dressing the part.

There are hashtags too – could they hold the key to empowerment?

The #MeToo Campaign, or the #TimesUp movements. These hashtags cost nothing, and are democratically available to all.

So I tried them. One male friend of mine fines himself a pound each time he lapses into Seventies-style gender stereotyping. He slots the coin down a (consenting) female friend’s top.

I repeated the slogan #TimesUp at him. He looked mildly baffled, and I have seen no seismic change in his world view.

“Can the #TimesUp slogan be used only by the gentler sex?” he asked, before flicking a coin in the vague direction of my pre-planned polo neck.

I tried it on one of the kids, after all people say the children are the future. What do you think of the whole #TimesUp thing, I asked my son?

“What’s that?” He said looking up from Instagram momentarily. “The #MeToo campaign?” I proffered. “What’s that?’ Now annoyed. “Shut my door and let me know when tea’s ready?”

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