Danielle Young – “It’s not your fault if you get harassed, no matter what you wear”

How do you self-define?

I’d probably say I’m an intersectional feminist, and I identify as pansexual.

What does feminism mean to you?

I want to say equality for people or between the sexes, but I kind of think of it more for women. It’s also for men because they suffer from things like mental health. For women it’s about making a safe space. I think it’s about reclaiming our bodies and stuff like that; becoming autonomous and bringing things back into our control. It’s taking back the power that’s over us in areas like the workplace. A woman should be able to control her life.

What do the words ‘woman’ and ‘man’ mean to you?

Now I think about it, it seems a bit weird that there is a segregation between us; and it’s probably been said before but I don’t like it how ‘woman’ ends in ‘man’.

When did you become aware of your gender?

More so when I got older. I think our generation is more aware of it. We talk about the fact that there are more than the two genders and I find that fascinating. It was in my late teens I would say, that I became fully aware.  I became aware of the fact when I studied Sociology that you’re conditioned into your gender, which really scared me. When i realised it I was like “Oh my god, I went through this!” It freaked me out, I really didn’t like it because it made me realise that that is how women are perceived. The female gender is less than, and I began to notice that in everyday things. For example, language, and how people refer to things.  Female body parts are usually discussed in derogatory ways, but if with masculine things it’s usually a compliment. So this whole time you’re oblivious to being insulted because you thought it was normal.

Do you every feel unsafe due to your gender?

Yeah, I do. If you’re out at night people say you shouldn’t walk on the streets at all. But then they blame you for what you’re wearing. It’s not your fault if you get harassed, no matter what you wear. There is definitely a culture that makes you ashamed of your gender, as if your gender is an inconvenience, especially if you’re not abiding by how you’re supposed to be.

Do you feel treated differently by men and women?

Yeah, I’d say men generally treat me differently to women. I don’t know how to describe the attitude, but I think you tend to get two types of men. There’s men who catcall or men who degrade women purposefully, and then there’s also men who are a bit oblivious to what they’re doing. Sometimes people don’t realise that kind things they do might be problematic. Sometimes they don’t realise they’re being sexist because it’s so ingrained in our culture. As for women, I really don’t like the women against women culture. A lot women seem to hate each other for no reason and I just wish they would love each other. I really don’t like it because women should not be in competition with each other. It shouldn’t be about competing for male attention, we should be standing together. There are some women who are really loving and there are no problems whatsoever; but sometimes you’re giving off that vibe and you’re like really happy and open but then some women look at you like, “What are you doing?”.

What do you think of the positive ways the world views women?

I think it’s changed a bit, but not majorly. I feel like powerful women in our generation are more able to take control of things. So if you want to be a stay at home mum, or if you want to go to work, more people are open to it, because she can do what she wants. Compared to how it was before when women could only stay at home, there was no choice. So it’s positive that we’re letting women be a bit more in control. It’s still not great but we’re slowly moving towards equality.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

Did you encounter any obstacles on your path to womanhood? 

Yeah, I mean, you don’t really know what you’re doing. As a teenager you’re just doing things for the sake of doing things, but you aren’t educated on those things. Like in school there was always a competition of who slept with who, but I mean actually we were really young and didn’t know what the hell you we were doing.

How do you feel about casual sex?

I’m not against it, as long as people are safe. You should always tell the person that you’re going to be sleeping with if you have any STD’s or whatever. As long as you’re honest then I think it’s fine. I don’t really think anything of it.

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

Pro-choice because it’s a foetus. It’s not a person. It’s the woman’s body so if it’s going to affect her health then, or if she’s not financially stable, or if there is any reason whatsoever, then she should be able to have an abortion. She doesn’t even need a justification. If she wants to get rid of it, it’s her choice. She’s probably going to be the one raising it, so if she doesn’t want to do that then she shouldn’t have to have it.

What are your feelings on contraception?

Well, obviously I think it’s a good thing, but I don’t really like the pill. Although it’s empowering, and it does work for many women, it hasn’t really gone so well for me. I went on it twice, and when the doctor was prescribing it to me, he just like bombed it at me. They didn’t talk about side effects, and I ended up having like every side effect. I was constantly bleeding, and had loads of break outs on my face. So basically I was always on my period, which really defeated the purpose of it in the first place. I ended up changing it to another pill and the effects were exactly the same. Although I know there are loads of options of pills out there, I just feel like it did weird things to me. Condoms are good though.

What do you think about marriage and monogamy? 

Marriage is outdated I think. I don’t feel it’s necessary, but at the same time, if people want to do it that’s fine. I think those humanist weddings are quite cool. They don’t have a priest, and it’s all just fun and hippy. I think the religious weddings are really outdated, like the whole thing where the dad gives the daughter away. I don’t really like the idea of owing myself to someone and having to wear a ring and all that stuff. If you get rid of all that, then I understand it might just be taking your relationship to another level. Without all the possessiveness, it’s nice that it celebrates love. I guess it’s just sweet. As for monogamy, I don’t really have anything against it. I don’t feel like we should push out the idea that it’s the only way to go. There are loads of ways to live and people are so different. I don’t think it should be so romanticized in films, books and everywhere else. It’s not the only way to have a relationship, and it’s not really healthy to project that idea I think.

What are your thoughts on parenthood? 

I don’t like how people say women are just born with this innate motherly instinct, as if we just want babies, and all small things. A woman can choose whether she wants a child or not, and part of me thinks that a lot of women do it regardless because we’re so conditioned to think that’s all we want in life. Of course some women genuinely do want children, but I just don’t like how gender roles are projected on men and women who are parents. They tell you what you should be doing as parent, and as a woman you’re expected to do a lot than if you’re a man.

Do you think your sex education was sufficient?

No. It was really bad. Most people just go to porn to learn about sex and I think that’s really messed up. I mean, in real life no one reacts like that. At school it was almost always about men’s sex education, so we learnt about condoms and stuff like that. I mean, we also learnt about sexual diseases which is good, but as a girl you don’t learn anything about your body. Some things just shock you when they happen. Like in Biology we learnt a bit about periods and the menstrual cycle, and they handed this tampon around, and the teacher was like dipping it in water, but I wouldn’t really call that a useful sex ed lesson.

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

Yeah.

Has your sexuality ever been used against you? 

I haven’t been discriminated against for my sexual attractions, but I have been called either a slut or a prude no matter what I do.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

Is there anyone you would undermine your principles for? 

I’d like to think not. I think I’m quite loud about my opinions, even If I know someone disagrees. I mainly just do that to try and help them understand something if they’re a bit oblivious to a form of prejudice or discrimination.

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

It’s funny, but it’s usually in intimidating situations. So if someone cat calls me, I’m usually quite vocal against it. To be fair though, that’s usually only when I’m with a group of friends. When I’m on my own I’m much more vulnerable. But if I’m with a group of girls and someone says something rude, I’ll say something.

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

Like in films, they’re nearly always just really weak and soppy. Like you’ll see a woman sacrificing her dream for a man, and there’s something really unrealistic about that. She’s often washed over by someone else. In terms of advertising, it’s just so gross. It’s nearly always a ‘typical’ woman who’s white and thin. It really doesn’t represent all women.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

They’re gross too. Shaving products, hair dyes and so on, they’re always about changing the way a woman is because she’s not good enough. They present this idea that women have to be shaven because men like women shaven, and she has to change her hair colour to the blonde lady in the magazine, and being bigger is unattractive apparently. I really don’t like how it defines women and beauty.

What are your biggest fears?

Being raped really scares me.

What are your greatest accomplishments? 

Probably getting to university.

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

Oh, that’s hard. I think I’m quite smiley, and I’m always eating, so people see that a lot. That’s probably all they know about me.

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

I wish I could be acknowledged more for quality rather than looks or anything.

What are you most positive relationships? 

With Kyle my boyfriend, and my closest friends.

What do you deeply love about yourself?

I really love my body.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

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