WHEN I was a 15 year old, I struggled to find where I fitted in as a woman. I was not the type of girl who was interested in ‘girl things’ and, when girls gathered to do girl things I felt like an outsider.
It’s not the nicest position to feel like you do not belong in your own gender or you should be someone you know you are not authentically. Then one day I opened up a magazine and read Funmi Iyanda’s story.
This Nigerian talk show host presented a woman I had not seen before, this woman saw herself as “Funmi” she did not even try to be a woman, but an individual and she did not consider her authentic self vulnerable and did not care whether people thought she was beautiful or otherwise.
As women sometimes we want people to think we are beautiful or worthy to be deemed so but being your authentic self and giving people no room to define you, puts no labels or expectation on you.
Throughout the interview she seemed oblivious to people’s opinions of her, she was more interested in what she thought about herself, and I had never seen a woman with so much audacity to not even let gender dictates disturb her because she was Funmi and she “didn’t give a damn.”
She even had the confidence to say “People say I am strong, resilient, driven, passionate, empathetic, funny and childlike. I tend to agree.” What was important was her agreeing, not what they said.
Funmi gave me so much confidence to go out and be myself, because I saw more beauty in her than I saw in women who let gender roles constrict them. I saw beauty in being’s one true self, because some women think their beauty is in fitting into gender roles.
One quote that stood out in her interview was, “they were the elephants in the room and elephants should be in their natural habitats not in rooms.” I think this fits the Swansea Feminist Society because they are trying to tackle the elephants in the room, in relation to gender inequality.
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” Is the quote of the Feminist Society’s cover photo on Facebook. The quote embodies one aim of feminism, giving women the option to not be one archetype in society, bound by traditional roles and societal dictation but the freedom to be individuals. Since there is no longer a full-time women’s officer role in the students’ union, it is crucial that this society stands to address the gender inequality women face, in Swansea University and beyond, by discussion and forging campaigns to bring the victimization and inequality women face to light.
This society, I am proud to say, is one of the hardest working in the university, its regular Twitter feeds and campaigns to get all genders in university thinking about what feminism means and to get students involved in tackling gender inequality, show this society is passionate about bringing the issues women face to the fore and inspire students to talk and do something about these issues.
I asked Alyce Markham from the Feminist Society a couple of questions.
Akosua : What is the aim of the Feminist Society?
Alyce: The Feminist Society gives the chance for anyone and everyone with a belief in gender equality at Swansea University to get together for a mixture of fun socials, different campaigns and discussions. Everyone is welcome, regardless of gender or sexuality.
Akosua: What do you think of role of women’s officer being removed?
Alyce : Removal of a women’s officer is a disappointment for all at the university, especially women and especially if it remains that all officer positions are filled by men.
Akosua : The Feminist Society held its first ever forum on March 11 in conjunction with the Debating Society, inviting all students to get involved in discussions and debates, the topics up for discussion were Sexualisation in the Media, 50 Shades of Grey, Wind Street. How do you think the forum went?
Alyce: We thought it was very successful in that a wide range of people from different backgrounds and different genders attended. The meeting sparked great debates over topics such as Wind Street, politics, and the No More Page 3 Campaign.
Akosua : Lad culture is a major problem in Swansea University, how does the society aim to tackle this?
Alyce: FemSoc is tackling ‘lad culture’ by providing an open space for all genders to discuss relevant issues within the university. We hope that by encouraging this discussion and providing this platform, we can contribute to a safe university environment while countering ‘lad culture’.
We hope that we can raise further awareness around the negative effects of ‘lad culture’ through publicly commenting on issues within the university, as can be seen in our article in The Siren.
Follow the Feminist Society on Twitter at @SUSUFemSoc.