Audrey Martin – “I think women are too broad to be defined […] there is virtually nothing that applies to all women”

How do you self-define?

As a cis-woman.

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism is making sure everyone starts on a level playing field and just doing the best to make sure everyone has the opportunity to do whatever they want with their lives, free of restriction in terms of gender or sexuality.

What does the words “woman” and “man” mean to you? 

They are personal identifications that help people relate to people around them, and it gives another kind of element of solidarity in being a part of a group of people rather than just being an individual, which can be quite isolating.

When did you become aware of your gender?

I never really had that realisation moment, because I’m cis it’s just been assumed that i’m a female and I’ve never had any issues with that. And when I started finding out about trans* issues, I did sit down with myself and have a good old think, but I’m definitely female and I’ve never felt any conflict with that.

Do you ever feel unsafe due to your gender?

Not really physically out in the world, I feel like I’ve overthought it so much and there’s still that part of me that’s like “oh it’ll never happen to me”, which may not be very healthy, and may not be very safe, but I feel alright with it. I feel like I’ve thought so much about it, I did spent quite a lot of my time as a teenager really worried, and now i’m like, if something happens I would be able to deal with it. I’ve dealt with a lot of personal stuff  in the past so if anything were to happen I know I’d be able to survive.

Do you feel treated differently by men and women?

Yeah. Men are a lot more patronizing. That is something I’ve noticed. Even with guys who are my friends, or guys who respect me intellectually, they’ll still be very  “oh well you don’t really know what you’re on about” or “Oh I know more about this than you do” and “yeah you did your dissertation on that, but I read the lad bible article on that once, so I’m still an authority”.

What do you think are positive ways that the world views women?

Um, I don’t think society as a whole does really have any positive ways in which it views women because it’s all still steeped in sexism. I think there’s the kind of… SJW [social justice warrior], millennial culture that’s starting to become a bit more mainstream and I think in that there are some positive ways people view women, but it’s still very very problematic, because I think women are too broad to be defined by any positive ways to view them. Like you can view specific kinds of women in positive ways, or specific kinds of people in positive ways, but there is virtually nothing that applies to all women. So there is no positive way, or negative way, to view women as a whole.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

Did you encounter any obstacles on your path to woman/manhood?

I always kind of fought against “being female” and I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I don’t know how much of it was that I wanted to stand out and prove I wasn’t like other girls because I can do maths and science, I don’t know how much of it was that and how much of it was more that I want to prove girls can do this. Like I know girls in particular are afraid to stand out and are taught to blend and mesh in to one homogeneous group. I’ve always felt like I don’t care about that, so I may as well stand out to make a point. And that’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few months,  is like, i feel like every single thing that I did, particularly as a pre-teen and a teenager was sub-consciously like a massive screw you to the patriarchy, like “look I can do this too, despite the fact that i’m not part of your little boys club”. And that felt really great.

What do you think about casual sex?

If you want it, have it. If you don’t want it, don’t have it. Freedom of choice, like it’s not inherently good or bad, it’s what you want it to be.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice, and why?

I am pro-choice, regarding everything. And I don’t think pro-life should be called pro-life, I think i should be called pro-controlling-women’s-bodies and pro-having-a-baby, and they’re not pro-life, because if they were pro-life, they’d care more about child support and welfare and all that kind of stuff.

What are your feelings about contraception, in terms of types, cost, availability, usage, stigma?

I think it’s ridiculous that there are so many types of contraception out there, and still we’re just taught about condoms… perhaps the pill if you’re lucky. Contraception is so important – not just because of the whole safety thing, but because of the freedom that comes with it. In the 50s it was when the pill was invented that was when women were able to start having casual sex and not have as many risks around it so it’s such an important thing. I think it’s ridiculous that in America you have to pay for it. And i think it’s ridiculous that there’s not much education around things like the coil – which can completely stop your periods all together, which for someone who has really painful periods all the time – like me – you can not have a proper period for like five years, why are we not taught about that?

What are your thoughts on marriage and monogamy?

Again, if you want it then go for it, if you don’t then don’t. I think most people are brought up not having an alternative, I think if people were to sit down and have a chat with themselves, more people would want to be non-monogamous. It suits some people, personally I couldn’t be in a serious relationship with someone and know they were seeing other people. If it was on a casual basis then I personally could. I think, again, people are so different, but we’re only ever exposed to one type of relationship, we’re shown one way that we can be. It’s not necessarily that that’s a right way or a wrong way, it’s just that that’s not the only way, and if you’re never exposed to anything else, if you never know that anything else is right for you, you can spend your entire life being unhappy and not know why. You can spend your entire life wanting to cheat on your partner and not know why, or, like if your partner cheats on you and you feel like you should feel bad but you don’t, and there are all sorts of issues that come from that… you should just let people do what they like.

What are your thoughts on motherhood?

Again, if you wanna do it, go for it. I personally don’t want to be a mother, I think i’d be an awful mother. Um, the idea of childbirth spooks me out. And um, if I was to ever want kids I think i’d want to adopt or foster, because there are so many kids in care, I think it’s almost selfish to be so desperate to have a child biologically that you won’t even consider helping a kid who needs it. I get that some people want to have biological kids, and that’s fine – I’m not saying “oh you’re an awful person if you have biological kids!” But I don’t know, I think there are more important things. And I think I’d rather help a lot of people by not being a mother and spending that time and energy doing wider good in the world than bringing up someone. I think I’d be awful at that – i’m too selfish!

Were you always aware of what your body could do, and do you think your sex education was sufficient?

I don’t think sex education was sufficient at all. I was very lucky in that my mum was very open and I could talk to her about that kind of stuff. I didn’t particularly go to her that much – but I’ve always kind of known it was there. Also, I suppose with the internet, that helps a lot. However, there needs to be so much more out there. Not everyone has parents who they can talk to, not everyone has parents who have time to talk to them. Again, I just think it’s so important because there’s so much freedom that comes from knowing what your limitations are. Because then you can go round and fix it, rather than end up being screwed over by them.

Do you feel comfortable communicating your sexual needs to a partner?

Yeah. Again, I think that’s something that I think isn’t that common, which is a shame. And again, my feminism has really helped with that. Because a lot of the time I don’t really know, and i’m just kind of down to try things and if it works then it works, and if it doesn’t then it doesn’t. But it’s dangerous to be like that unless you’re confident enough to say “no that’s not working for me” or “no that’s hurting” or “no I never want to do that again” or whatever. And I think whilst it’s ok for me, there’s an issue there than needs to be looked at.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

Has your sexuality ever been used against you?

Kind of. My sexuality is fluid, and a large part of that is asexuality. And I think because so few people understand that, because there are so many misconceptions out there, because people don’t know what it means, they’ll kind of accidentally use it against me. Like i’ll act a certain way and they’ll say “oh it’s because you’re asexual” or i’ll say something and they’re like “Wait you can’t say that, you’re asexual!” And like it’s not as simple as that. But it’s never been used to hurt me or anything, but i’m so open with this kind of thing anyway, there’s not really anything anyone could do to hurt me anyway – it’s one of the benefits of being an over-sharer!

Is there anyone you would undermine your principles for?

When it comes to my sexuality, I don’t mention it to my grandparents, and if I had a girlfriend, I probably wouldn’t mention it to my grandparents. Just because it would make them uncomfortable and it would strain things, and this is gonna sound really bad but they’re nearing the end of their lives, this isn’t the time to be springing things that are gonna hurt them on them, I don’t know when’s the last time i’m going to see them. There’s not many people though, I’m very much, like if people disagree with me then that’s fine, but if something about me is upsetting enough to them that they’d judge me for it or discriminate against me for it or not wanna be my friend any more then I don’t want them in my life whether they’re family, friends, whatever.

In which situations do you feel safe to speak your mind or stand up for yourself?

Pretty much all situations – which has caused some problems! Because sometimes it probably hasn’t been safe to. But again, i’m very much like if I can’t speak my mind, then what am I doing there? Like, again, I’ve also been very lucky with the people who I’ve found myself surrounded by. I don’t know whether because I’m so open, I attract a certain kind of people, and repel a certain type of people, which has meant the type of people I’m surrounded by are the kind of people that are accepting and all that. But there are certainly some places, particularly at Keele, that I would like, tone down my opinions, or I wouldn’t go on for quite as long as I would do otherwise.

Do you feel satisfied with how women are depicted in film, TV, advertising etc.?

It’s getting better, but we’ve got a hell of a long way to go. Like, the fact that it’s still a bit deal where there is a good representation of women I think says enough in itself. As soon as it becomes a non-issue is when i’ll be satisfied.

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

I feel like everything is marketed towards men, unless something is applicable to only women. Like pregnancy tests. The number of Youtube adverts I get for pregnancy tests – I’m not even in a relationship! I don’t ever want kids, why are you showing me pregnancy tests. And I just think the whole idea of gendered marketing is kind of ridiculous. Because even if someone identifies as male, but they’re trans* and they’re assigned female at birth and everything, then they might want pregnancy tests. So by not advertising to men, you’re still missing people out… I have iffy opinions on advertising in general though, it’s part of a wider issue.

What are your biggest fears?

Spiders.

What are your greatest accomplishments?

Oh I don’t know. I think the fact I am so open and such an over-sharer is a massive accomplishment. I know that by me going further than most people are comfortable to talk about with strangers, I have helped people. I know I’ve helped people think about their sexuality or discover who they are in that way. And I don’t know whether it’s just naturally or whether it’s something I’ve kind of trained myself or something my mum instilled in me, but I think it’s quite rare that you find people who are willing to just chat about stuff in really intimate ways. I think it is important that there are people out there like that – not necessarily everyone. I’m not saying everyone should always be really open with the intricate details of their lives – no way, because some people just don’t want that.  But I think I’m proud of how willing I am to make myself vulnerable, because I don’t really see it as vulnerability. It’s complicated. Also the fact that like, if I fuck up, i’ll kind of own it and make a deal out of it, because I know that a lot of people do admire me, and when I look at someone I admire and they mess up I just get really happy, because it’s like “aah I’m not the only one!” So I know that if I mess up and make a deal of how I’ve messed up then I’m helping someone else feel better in themselves, and that’s a worthy sacrifice in my mind.

What image do you think you project on a day to day basis?

I think I project one of confidence, and I think its false, but i think people see me as loud and opinionated and confident, when really a lot of that is kind of a defence mechanism. But because people see me like that, it kind of makes me a bit more like that as well so I don’t know. I maybe be completely wrong about that, but I think people generally see me as someone who knows what they’re on about.

What image would you like to project in an ideal world, absolving social expectations?

The one that I am. I’m actually quite happy with the way people have told me they see me. Well people that like me see me the way I want them to see me, there’s a lot of people who don’t like me who see me as kind of pretentious and pushy and I do think there is a lot of sexism in that, but I don’t really care what they think of me so it’s fine. The way my friends have said that they see me – I’m so proud of that, because that is exactly what I want. I want to be a calming influence on people, I want people to feel comfortable to talk to me about things or to ask me anything if they have questions, because I feel that I am knowledgeable and I want to be able to help people with that knowledge; there’s no point just sitting on it all. I want to be someone who makes people feel safe. I think that’s a massive thing.

What are your most positive relationships?

My relationship with my mum is a massive one. We don’t see eye to eye on everything… but I think a lot of my morality and my opinions do come from her, and she’s one of my favourite people, and I admire her so much. She’s one of the only people I actively try to impress, like I change myself to impress her and she’s the only person I do that for. So yeah, definitely my mum.

What do you deeply love about yourself?

That despite the fact I’ve had all sorts of shit happen to me, I still don’t wish it on other people. I think a lot of people can get quite bitter, but I don’t see that people have treated me badly or that bad things have happened to me naturally or just because of the way I am or whatever, I don’t look at that and go “I want to make everyone else miserable”. My response is that I want to make everyone happier, because then at least there’s some good coming out of me feeling bad. I think if I ever stopped feeling like that then I wouldn’t be me anymore. That’s such an integral part of who I am.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

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