Giving a problem a name

Image// IB Times UK
Image// IB Times UK

The 16 days of activism against gender-based violence are very special days in the political calendar. Right now, all over the world, including here at home, people are honouring women and girls, and recognising our right to live free of gender-based violence. We all come together in an intensive effort to name the harms caused by violence against women and girls, to dismantle the systems and norms that support and perpetuate it, and to create a new vision for a world without it.

And while we don’t always talk much about feminism during these 16 days, we do owe a huge historical and ongoing debt to feminist activists who have brought the issue of violence against women and girls to the world, and who importantly, have created the language that we use to talk about it.

By creating words and concepts like patriarchy, sexual harassment, misogyny and intersectionality, our feminist sisters have named women’s oppressions, the harms caused and the strategies to fight them. Happily, we now take this lexicon for granted so that it is no longer surprising to hear misogyny being called out, or to share a conviction with the majority that sexual harassment is wrong. But feminism is not a dying or historical movement: it is alive and well and feminists continue to play a crucial role in moving the thinking forward.

So during these 16 days of honouring women, we would like to send a special shout out to our feminist faves: the wonderful likes of Angela Davis, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Marai Larasi who have made it possible to name what we see. As another of our bests, Sara Ahmed has said, naming an experience as sexist not only gives an account of something that is wrong, it is also a demand for transformation. It is a way of saying ‘no’. The wrong is no longer acceptable.