In parts of North Africa, mostly on the Mediterranean side, is a tribe called the Bedouin people. You may have heard of them, or at least their tents. They are a traditionally nomadic people, with exceptions provided by governments in the region for tax paying and border crossing due to their cultural structure revolving heavily around non-stationary existence.
The way their social systems work is very complex, with vertical, horizontal, diagonal and non-linear hierarchies, involving age, gender, heritage and family group. Communication is a massive part of the way in which these hierarchies are maintained, whether it be non-verbal by means of body language and dress or verbal communication, distinctly involving poetry.
Polygamous marriages are commonplace, with arranged marriages and financial exchanges between families being the usual way in which they are set up. The role of the woman in a public environment is very limited, with faces always being covered in a social space and public exchanges always being taken care of by the man.
In the private sphere however, the woman is the dominating figure. The household is run by the woman, and the hierarchy of wives determined by their domestic capabilities.
Despite the unfathomable idea of sharing one’s husband with two or three other women varying in age and family status, the women of the household create the kind of bond that in a sense, immunizes them to the suppression they are said to experience.
They do this through poetry. Creating modes of communication that form networks of support amongst each other, such that they don’t crave power in the public circle, so their so-called suppression is not actually suppression at all.
Big family decisions are made by the women. Children are raised by the women. In a sense, the society is built by the women.
They have created their own freedom.
This is what I would deem feminism.
The founding feminist rebels who burnt their bras and grew their armpit hairs, did so with little long-term consideration. Their behaviour, though probably what was required at the time, has left feminism stigmatized. To be a feminist is to be masculine, undesirable or whingy.
This however, is not true.
Feminism is not hating men, or wanting special treatment.
It is not being better than men. It is not seeking special consideration based on gender. It is not looking to have the door opened for you by a stately gentleman to your CEO position.
It is simply having the chance to do whatever you want, regardless of being man, lady, lady-man or whatever else you may wish to call yourself.
And to be equally recognised for your efforts.
Feminism is a desire for equality and it sure is not shameful to want that.
I think many women shy away from the word feminism, especially when they spend a lot of time with men. It is easy to feel like claiming feminism is wanting to cause trouble, stirring the pot of an already boiling broth.
But, this is not the way it has to be. Wordlessly rising to a position of satisfaction, giving credit where credit is due, not selling yourself short and most importantly, not being afraid to go after what you want, is feminism.
I think in the surf industry, the moment you step into the realm of head offices, publishing houses, competitions or anything the like, is the moment you take on the honourable responsibility of being a feminist. Whether you know it or not.
There are greater hurdles to overcome, biologically and socially, yet when you step into that region, you are taking them on without gender in mind.
You are not a whinger; you are simply not allowing gender to factor into the direction your life takes.
Sometimes it fucking sucks to be a woman. But there sure is no shame in it.
There sure is no shame in being unafraid of your ideals. Of being comfortable with womanhood, and not feeling the need to adjust the way you see the world to be compatible with anyone else. Being it man or woman.