Feminist Friday: What feminism means to me.

The first time I remember properly classifying myself as a feminist was during a sociology seminar in my first year of university. You might be thinking this is incredibly late, which I suppose it is. However, while I may not have attached the label to my identity until then, I have always been what I’d deem a ‘feminist in progress’ or an ‘unknowing feminist’ and I work on it every day and I try to be better for myself and for the movement.

Feminism is defined in simple terms as the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. This definition can be extended and elaborated on in that the movement simply aims for equality of all people, regardless of gender identification, physical sex or binary.

In the time I’ve spent reflecting on feminism and the label I have assigned myself, my views have altered and adapted. When I first announced that I thought of myself as a feminist, as well as feeling liberated, uplifted and exuberant, I felt nerves. My naive and relatively  uneducated self had always considered feminism to be something for highly intelligent, academic women who could form an argument, exuded power and strength and who broke the glass ceiling every day. Emma Watson, for example. Maya Angelou. Caitlin Moran. Germaine Greer. Michelle Obama. All the amazing women. They were feminists who had DONE STUFF. They understood the word, wore the word, added meaning to it, plastered it over Twitter bios and YouTube videos. I doubted myself in many ways…was I really a feminist, or just someone who observed and supported the feminist movement from the sidelines, waving a flag or some witty and punny sign that showed my dedication and respect without having anything relevant to add or contribute? I wasn’t sure what to classify myself as or what I could add to the discussion. Did I qualify? Was I too privileged? What was the deal?

After study, reading and learning a little about what was going on, I realised that the questions I was asking myself were redundant. The very idea of feminism is, like I said, equality for all. It is a universal struggle of all people and all women, arguing for equal respect and treatment of all. Intelligence, poignancy and eloquence, or indeed ‘qualifying’ don’t come into it even slightly. The way I see it according to those ideologies, is that if you believe in any of the above, you couldn’t possibly be anything OTHER than a feminist. Feminism is for everyone and anyone. Anyone who has a vagina, anyone who doesn’t. Anyone who identifies as female, anyone who doesn’t. Feminism was for me. A way for me to congregate under a collective title with all other supporters of equal rights, in an attempt to not just smash the glass ceiling, but completely and utterly annihilate it.

Feminism to me is something I am extremely proud to classify myself under. While I wish it didn’t need to exist, there is a need for it and therefore I want to be involved. I haven’t figured out exactly how yet, but for now these blog posts will give me a chance to voice my thoughts. They may not be overly poignant or groundbreaking and will probably have been voiced by people before me, but I am in on a discussion and I like it.

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

Back my popular demand (or on my own accord…as I’m not all that popular) with a book review for you!

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. (Goodreads)

I picked this book up because I didn’t know what to read and as I have Amazon Prime I could download it for free on my Kindle. I started it and whizzed through it in no time at all. I found this book incredibly easy to read and so enjoyable that I was almost sad when it finished.

This book follows Ove in the present (as a 59 year old) while dotting back chapter to chapter to his past, recounting memories and experiences from his childhood, work life and meeting his wife. I really enjoyed the insights into Ove’s past that were interspersed through the book as it gave context to the way that Ove behaves and acts and feels as an older man.

This book deals with several issues that I find interesting and puts a spin on them. I won’t explain how it does this, but it discusses grief, bereavement, ageing, change, acceptance, deterioration, family, what constitutes a family and suicide, while still managing to be uplifting and at times very funny. There were moments in this book where I burst out laughing, and others where I needed tissues because I was sobbing.

I loved Ove as a character. He reminded me of character’s like Ebenezer Scrooge or the Grinch, in that he appears to be a grumpy and mean individual. However as the book progresses and we learn more of Ove’s past and we see him living his day to day life, he becomes lovable and we realise he is far more complex than what he seems. I love books from perspectives distant from my own, and so I welcome books like A Man Called Ove.

In summary, this book was funny, charming, heartwarming and emotive. It was incredibly well written, and the messages within gave me a lot to think about. My most important take away from this book was to never underestimate the impact you may have on somebody else’s life, regardless of how small or seemingly insignificant. I would thoroughly recommend this if you want an easy read, or one that’ll make you smile, laugh, sob and feel uplifted. Enjoy!

12 Angry Men.

Again this is another non bookish post, however this is a movie review of a film that I couldn’t not talk about as it has had a tremendous effect on me and has reserved itself a place in my top films of all time. As the title suggests, this is the film 12 Angry Men. I can guarantee this film will be unlike any other you have watched!

12-angry-men

This movie was released in 1957 by MGM, and follows 12 men in a overcrowded, warm room, being asked to make a decision as members of a jury as to whether a young man should be sentenced to death for murder. Other than briefly at the beginning and end, this film does not leave said room, and it shows 12 people from different backgrounds, of different temperaments and with different views coming together and trying to deliberate to reach a decision.

This film is so simplistic in its filming and in the fact that it takes place in a realistic scale of time, which adds to the impact. Without action, comedy, romance or a really intensive plot many would argue that a film like this could be uninteresting. However instead we see a film which focuses on words and dialogue above all else, a film which makes you really think about what is right and wrong, about evidence, about trusting your judgement and your gut instincts.

What I loved about this film is that without even learning the names of the members of the jury, we learn more about them as the story unfolds. While watching the men deliberate in attempt to make a joint decision, we see how personal experiences, personality and prejudice infiltrate their seemingly fair and democratic decisions.

“Prejudice always obscures the truth.”- Juror #8

The characters in this room and this movie are incredibly complex and different, and subtly we learn aspects of each one’s personality. There are bad guys and there are good guys, there are jokers and professionals. As tension builds and the verdict sways one way and another and the disagreements become more heated, the room seems to get smaller somehow and the film gets subtly more intense.

I just think this film was absolutely fantastic. It toys with certainty and doubt, standing up for what you believe and working harder and more tirelessly to come to a justified and honest result, prejudice versus sympathy, stubbornness versus placid. It really makes you think and it is just so contained and separate from anything I have ever watched before. I loved it. I don’t think I’ll ever see a movie like it again.

I wouldn’t recommend it to those of you who crave action and story arcs and such, however if you like films that encourage you to analyse and to think and to question then this is for you. If you like films that are dialogue heavy and relatively still, but with character development and with moral and ethical dilemma, PLEASE WATCH THIS!