Last weekend, I spoke at a conference for young women: Feminist Fightback
. It was an amazing day: hundreds of young women, passionate about politics, debating issues at the forefront of all our lives. Low pay, equal pay and women workers' struggle
; Abortion rights campaigning
; Feminism without borders: trafficking, asylum and immigration rights
were amongst the topics on the agenda. It was wonderful to be in an environment where constructive, intelligent arguments about the modern women’s movement were talked about. And, as shown by recent world events
, it’s evidently clear how important and relevant feminism still is, to ensure women’s issues are brought to the global agenda.
Bar my book reading
, I had never spoken in public before, certainly not given a speech, and yes, I was terrified
. Not only because of the anxiety about talking in front of a couple of hundred intelligent, politicised, people, but also because I was there as a result of my writing, and I never thought I’d be talking face-to-face with complete strangers about my sex life…
Still, as I said that day, I can’t dig my head in the sand and pretend I am still anonymous: to do so would be to insinuate I am ashamed about what I have done or written about, and I am bloody well not. So I am not going to keep quiet or hide myself away: I have been called a ‘slut’, ‘sordid’ and ‘shameless’ just because I am a woman, and I have talked about being sexually active - I am going to fight that sexist, double-standard labelling. If something good can come out of where things are at – that I can be part of a dialogue about sex and sexuality, and challenge some sexism and misogynist stereotyping along the way – then I think I should do my best to contribute to the debate. So I agreed to speak about my personal experience in the Feminism and Sexual Expression
session, alongside women from Feminists Against Censorship
, even though I was cacking my pants from fear.
I got an incredible response from the crowd, and not only when they madly applauded when I called one particular, despicable, national newspaper, “scum-fucks”. Tons of people (female and male) came up to me afterwards to chat, which was brilliant
. I’m relieved it went well, because I was really scared I would fuck up, or that I would be attacked for my opinions, so the best thing about it, was that so many women told me they related to, and agreed with, what I was saying about female sexuality: the warmth I felt in that room was amazing
When I began writing, almost three years ago, I felt very isolated and alone in my thoughts. To have other women – young feminist women – offer their solidarity and support to me, made me realise that there are many
of us like-minded women out there. Knowing that, makes my heart leap, and gives me hope: fuck fighting amongst ourselves to compete for Mr. Right, it’s about time that we supported each other, and fought for a better, more equal world – for everyone.
And if that means I’ve gotta shag a few more guys along the way, and then write about it, so be it.