I recently purchased a T-shirt which says Feminist quite clearly on it; I received more comments wearing this T-shirt than any other slogan based item of clothing I have worn.
So why did I wear a Feminist tee? We are going backwards, sexism is not behind closed doors it is in emails I receive, comments I hear and in meetings I attend. It is widespread and I am angry about it. I am angry feeling like I have to defend myself against comments that are not made to men in my position. I am angry fighting a battle that ought not to need fighting. I am angry to be fighting for equal treatment based on age, class, race, sex and disability and I am especially angry about fighting for it within communities who feel they are above such issues and yet experience would say otherwise.
As Quakers, do we have a tendency to see ourselves through rose-tinted spectacles?; do we think we don’t need to address race? do we think we don’t need to address sexism? do we think we don’t need to address ableism? do we think we don’t need to address ageism? And so it goes on.
Are we are kidding ourselves by thinking we are above this, do we need to dig deep and face some hard truths about our community? We might have lofty ideals of equality and integrity but are we fall short in reality?
There is some amazing work being carried out by Friends and I don’t want to take away from that but I also feel that there is a whole array of so-called ‘hidden’ discrimination that we are not facing up to because we don’t feel we have to. I think this is a mistake and by ignoring it we are at risk of being a community with institutionalised discrimination.
I have spoken before about the need for necessary uncomfortableness, far too often we are far too comfortable. Quakerism for me has never been about comfort, I am here to be challenged, I am here to hear and experience truth. It is not easy but carrying on without challenging the status quo has left us with a divided world where misinformation is rife, where fatalities are about numbers and not about a life lost, where people are abused and spat at in the street, where people are accessing food banks to ensure they and their family are fed, where homelessness is just something we accept and images of men, women and children seeking passage in a dinghy has become a normal sight.
We want to challenge that kind of a world and in order to do so, we need to challenge the way we operate as a community because at the core it’s how we see, judge and treat the ‘other’.