Ele Fisher – “Feminism means becoming a stronger person, building confidence in who you are, and standing up against expectations in society”

How do you self-define? 

Heterosexual, female, feminist.

What does feminism mean to you?  

To me, feminism is a lifestyle. Anyone can be a feminist. If you believe in equal rights for all genders, then you are a feminist. Feminism can benefit everyone, because the patriarchy affects different groups in different ways. It means becoming a stronger person, building confidence in who you are, and standing up against expectations in society.

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

Once upon a time it meant two different things, but as I’ve grown up and become more aware of different labels of sexualities and genders, I feel like they’re just socially constructed titles based on appearance and genitalia.

When did you become aware of your gender?  

Probably when I was in nursery, when I started being called a girl and I knew of boys.

Do you ever feel unsafe due to your gender? 

Yeah, quite a lot of the time. I’m scared of walking on my own at night. I get worried about being touched inappropriately, and just generally worried about being in a vulnerable position.

Do you feel treated differently by men and women?

Yeah, sometimes.  I mean, my friends treat me the same; the people that know me well treat me as an equal. But I suppose there are still some differences in how I am treated by my male and female friends, but that might just be something that comes down to who we are in general. The only problem I would say I have encountered with differences in the ways I’m treated, is that some men have cat-called me and touched me inapproriately if i’m showing more skin. Obviously not all men do that, it’s just some. Wuhoo! Creds to the guys that know and understand basic respect for women!

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

This is a tricky one, because I feel that with whatever position you take, there’s a negative attached. It’s easier to see the negatives than the positives, which is a shame. I don’t want to be negative, but every time I think of a positive, I can see how that can be negative. For example, the world seems to view females coming into powerful positions in politics or in the work place as positive as we are overcoming gender inequalities, but then it can be seen as negative because of the media portrayal of it. I think the media is part of the problem as to why it’s so difficult for people to have genuine positive views of women in the world.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

Did you encounter any obstacles on your path to womanhood? 

My period was a bit of an obstacle at first, and sometimes still is. People joke about it, so if I’m upset or angry in any way, I get jokes like, “Oh is it that time of the month again?” Oh sorry, am I not allowed to feel any emotions?

What do you think about casual sex? 

It’s not really for me, because I think sex is a very intimate thing, and I’m quite insecure, so allowing myself to have sex with people without meaning or feelings behind it is very, kind of, intrusive for me. But if people want to do it, then yay, go you! I have friends that have casual sex, and I think that’s great for them! I don’t shun anyone for it of course! It’s just not for me.

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

Both! I’m pro-choice, and pro-life. To be short, I think it depends on the circumstances.

What are your feelings on contraception? 

Well, I tried two types of contraception, the pill and the implant. Let’s just say it didn’t end well. I think contraception is great though, however now I can’t use any of those two, so I’m not left with many options. Contraception is mainly centred around women, as if sex and getting pregnant is out fault and responsibility, but it takes two to tango! When I tell the doctors I can only use condoms because of my health I get frowned at, but it’s not my fault there aren’t more options for men. I think there should be just as many contraceptive options for men as there are for women.

What are your thoughts on marriage and monogamy?

I love the idea of marriage, but it honestly seems to mean nothing now. You can be in love with someone and have an amazing life with them without having that piece of paper and a ring on your finger. So many people are getting divorced nowadays, and it really takes away the value of marriage. If we’re talking about monogamy in terms of not having multiple husbands at the same time I think that’s right! But if we’re talking in terms of having one partner your whole life, I think it’s a bit unrealistic because being with different people at different times of your life can give you a better sense of self.

What are your thoughts on parenthood? 

I can’t wait to be a mum! I mean, obviously right now isn’t the time, but when the time feels right for me and my partner, I think it’ll be amazing! I love my family, we’ve always been so close knit, and that’s important to me. I hate knowing that there’s parents out there that hurtand neglect their children, and I feel like parenthood is an important decision that needs to be fully considered.

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

I wasn’t always aware, no! I feel like I had sex education yes, but I wasn’t really told of some of the more intricate and perhaps embarrasing details that my body can do.

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

Not really. Sometimes I find it a bit awkward! Sometimes I don’t really know what I want.

Has your sexuality ever been used against you? 

I don’t think so, I think going to an all-girls school benefited me a lot in that sense. I don’t think I’ve ever been discriminated against for being a woman, and I certainly wouldn’t have it if I found out I was.

Is there anyone you would undermine your principles for?

Admittedly, I have let people take advantage of me, primarily for fear of losing them. But do I really want people in my life who accept me for my principles.

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

If I feel I’m being treated unfairly. In that case I don’t care whether I feel safe or not to stand up for myself, because it’s wrong if I’m being discriminated against for being a female. Otherwise I feel safe speaking my mind if I’m around friends and like-minded people.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

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

No, not at all. It’s getting a little bit better, but it’s still awful. We’re still the damsels in distress, the ones that fall hopelessly for the man, and the ones that needs to look a certain way. Women are portrayed with pretty negative attributes. They’re very rarely strong without a male figure guiding them.

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

Aren’t they just all pink, fluffy and made so that we can be more desirable?

What are your biggest fears?

Failure, not standing up for myself and missing out because of it.

What are your greatest accomplishments?

Being elected as president of FemSoc. It’s cheesy, but true! Getting a first in a short story I wrote for an English module in first year, and showing people that tell me I can’t do something that I can!

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

Well, to my housemates I’m a cry baby. It’s true. But at uni I think I project a happy, but always stressed, funny and eccentric person. I hope!

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

A happy, strong, friendly, well-put-together – as in organised and not stressed. An independent woman.

Which are your most positive relationships?

My family, and my friends!

What do you deeply love about yourself?

I consider myself quite a caring person. I care and try to be there for people a lot, so I like that about myself.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

 

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