Coming of age in the 1990s – the era of Loaded, ladettes and when any TV starlet with an ounce of ambition was getting her kit off for a saucy mag photoshoot, feminism was a dead concept.
It wasn’t that women’s equality wasn’t something we thought about – it was that naively, my teenage mind thought it had already been conquered. I looked upon the feminist activists of the 1970s and 80s with respect and admiration, thanking them silently for achieving parity on my behalf, enabling me to head off into my future blithely believing that the battles had been won.
Ignorance is bliss.
Now I look back wincing at that era that saw ‘empowered’ women allow themselves to be valued solely on their body and looks, which ushered in one of the most damaging eras for women imaginable – where obsession with appearance and being ‘hot’ has become a normal preoccupation for even pre-teen girls.
With stars like Rihanna and Miley Cyrus appropriating porn imagery in their pop acts, little girls sold an ambition to be a pretty pink princess and sexism still rife in many industries (not to mention the gender pay gap that sees women still earn £5k less per year), things have been regressing for many years.
But feminism is back – and in a big way. Thanks to outspoken, awesome women like writer Caitlin Moran – whose bestselling book How to Be A Woman is a modern feminist manifesto – campaigner Caroline Criado Perez and Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates, a new wave of women, galvanized by the power of social media, have brought women’s issues back into the news once again.
One of the fantastic new stars of this fourth-wave scene is comedian Bridget Christie. She won the Fosters Comedy award last year with her blisteringly funny show A Bic For Her, which I was lucky enough to catch at the Soho Theatre this week. Pointing out that feminism shouldn’t ‘have’ to be funny (as no-one expects other equality campaigners to crack jokes as well as effect change), Bridget nonetheless commanded the audience with her intensely playful but acerbic take on the ridiculousness of opposing equality.
From a surreal takedown of Sir Stirling Moss and his assertion that women don’t have the ‘mental aptitude’ for racing cars, to rearranging the lads mags out of her kids’ eyesight in the supermarket, the show’s highlight was her superb section on the insanity of the Bic pen ‘for women’. When companies decide that women can’t use a normal black pen, but instead need a pastel-hued writing implement which ‘goes in at the waist’ and with a BELT, we know we’re in trouble.
Thank goodness for women like Bridget – and let’s hope the future for feminism stays bright.