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Why I Cannot Settle For Pocket-Sized Feminism

Blythe Baird has written wonderful poetry entitled ‘Pocket-Sized Feminism’ and while I love her work, and particularly this poem, I’ve never been one to get backed into corners or keep my mouth shut. And so I think that I am simply incapable of being a part-time feminist.

See, I can’t be a half-hearted feminist when so few fight in this corner. Not when the boys who can walk home at night and not worry about strangers  are the same boys who learned that boys could be feminists too for the first time in class today.

I’ve walked the same 10-minute stretch of pavement, to and from school, for the last five years, but after teachers urged girls to be more careful after an attempted kidnapping at a college nearby, I had to take extra caution. I walked a little faster, checked behind me every five seconds and prayed that everything would be fine.

‘Pocket-sized feminism’ has done nothing for all the girls who are scared to go home alone, in fear of not making it safely. For all the girls who are scared to drink because we know too well that someone will take advantage of our stumbling bodies. We live in a world where preventative methods are a response to a disaster and not a precaution taken. Why would we expect any less from a world full of anti-feminism?

We live in a world where nobody would rather be ‘safe that sorry’ because worrying is weaker than ignorance. How do us girls fight for change, when 71% of the British Parliament is male, when America would rather let a racist and potential rapist run their country than be lead by a woman?

I doubt I’ll ever be able to walk home at night without clinging to streetlights for safety, without keeping one eye over my shoulder, but I hope that, one day, young girls will be able to. I hope those girls won’t need to have earlier curfews than their younger brothers anymore because the streets just “aren’t safe for a pretty young girl alone at night”. I hope they won’t need to be scared the way that I am scared every time a car slows down next to me. The kind of scared my best friend, a boy, has never known.

To try and force change is not a popular opinion, I know, and even Blythe accepts this. She admitted herself that there are days I want people to like me more than I want to change the world.” And haven’t we all been there? There are some many days when it is easier to blend into the furniture than sit in a man’s favorite seat, when it is easier to fade away.

But, I must urge you not to, because I refuse and so should you. Because most days, I invest more time in trying to be smart and make it somewhere than I do in trying to catch a boy’s attention. Because most days, I remember that I am worth more than just the number of boys who try to add me on Tinder. Because most days, I am myself, unapologetically. But this shouldn’t be just most days.

I have far too much self-respect and concern for future women to be shut into a box. I will not be silenced in fear of being ‘gobby,’ when my male counterpart would be described as ‘assertive’. I will not be forced into the desired mold of society’s ‘little women,’ a category I am not flimsy or fragile enough to fit in.

As it stands, there are rarely days where I want people to like me more than I want to change the world, so I will continue with my endeavors as fiercely and as unapologetically as my XY friends from across the gene pool.

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Chloe is 17 and British. On the rare occasion she's seen without a pen in hand, she's probably on the hunt for stronger coffee or dreaming about city lights. In 10 years time she hopes to be a published author or living it up in San Francisco. For all enquiries please contact: gainfordchloe@gmail.com

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