“Why be a Wife?” “Why be a Feminist?” Blogs by Anna Khan, Iman Aden and Sofie Korstadhagen

This week students looked at a range of interviews on the fantastic British Library Oral history Project Site: Sisterhood and After and responded to those interviews.

Sisterhood and after


Zoe Fairbairns – YBA Wife by Anna Khan


Zoe discusses her YBA Wife campaign, which was set up as a way of providing financial and legal independence to married woman. This stems from her fear and dislike of marriage. She expresses her view on marriage and how distasteful weddings are with this idea that the bride is given away by her father as a form of property and then becomes and owned item by her husband who treats her as he pleases. It was only until the emergence of a new wave of feminism did other women like Zoe realise that marriage should not be the final and sole purpose of their life and thus decided to refute these societal boundaries. Despite many Western societies progressing and adapting to changes regarding women, feminism and marriage, there are many countries in which these issues are still prevalent. Many women and girls in Middle Eastern and Asian countries are still so tightly bound by these expectations and boundaries that have been set upon them. As a result many feel pressured and do not have the option to walk away from the option of marriage as Zoe and so many other women in the Western world did.


Is feminism not necessary? by Sofie Korstadhagen


In Myths and Controversies surrounding feminism in the Sisterhood collection, there is a comment about feminism today and that maybe it is not necessary. The comment asks ‘why do they keep rising?’ Before, feminism in the west was about the right to vote, to work, to have economic power. Now, you hear about free the nipple and let the body hair grow. Small things like this has made feminism almost laughable, but what about the rape culture we are surrounded by? And women still don’t have equal pay? And even though feminism isn’t that much needed in the ‘white’ countries anymore. What about the Muslim women in the west who are shamed for wearing hijabs, burkas, niqabs? What about forced marriages, girls who aren’t allowed education, who aren’t allowed to drive, who can’t vote? Don’t they deserve some justice? Us white women can’t speak for them or fight their battles, but we can offer a helping hand and cheer from the sidelines. So can you say that feminism isn’t really necessary anymore?



Why be a wife? By Iman Aden

Zoe Fairbairns’ ‘’YBA Wife’’ is both thought- provoking and relatable. The reason being, her experiences as a woman and those around her has enabled her readership to understand the importance of rejecting societal pressures in a patriarchal society. Fairbairns’ trip down memory lane highlights the way in which feminism has significantly developed over the years. This includes the shift from ownership of women and lack of protection from marital rape to the legislations that were passed in 1991. Although marriage is now equal in the 21st century, women have the privilege to opt out and fulfil their lives in other ways. Thus, the reader relates to Fairbairn’s views and is almost enlightened in the sense that she allows us to question all pressures imposed on women. Why should one ‘be a wife’? Why must we succumb to a patriarchal institution to avoid ‘’failure’’? Pioneers such as Germaine Greer urges women to ‘’refuse to marry’’ and to symbolically refuse social standards. ‘We don’t have to be wives’; in fact, we can do as we please!



4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Neeti Rao on November 3, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    (Blog 1) In regards to Anna’s post, we see a cultural conflict between the new wave feminism and the cultural norms of certain societies and civilisations. But it forces me to think what happens to the women who are found in between of these two different philosophies, such as myself. Being brought up in an independent environment but always reminded of traditions which contradict the upbringing. This becomes a cultural shock where women are always found in the middle being torn apart from one culture to another – and it seems that both cultures are trying to claim the woman as theirs. But, is she someone to be claimed?

    (Blog 2) Is feminism necessary? Well it is for the little girl in Pakistan who is denied education, or for the mother in India who is forced to abort her girl child, or for the girl in Africa who is currently going through genital mutilation. Just because, a majority of females in first world countries do not go through the same ordeal, it does not mean that the need for feminism is over. Again, each country and culture have different sense for feminism so the comparison of both is needless. The conflict between speaking out for someone or letting them speak for themselves? Shouldn’t the one in power take control of the situation and help the one in need – so from this logic, it could be said that speaking out for someone is justified. But is it correct to appropriate a helplessness of the one in need? Would we be able to fully understand the situation of the helpless?

    (Blog 3) ‘We can do as we please’. Can we? No I mean, can we really? I feel that majority of women are fed a lie disguised as truth, that they are able to live and do as they please. This is a universal lie that many women from different cultures will relate to. I can only do as I please in a certain limit and that freedom and independence is given to me in limited doses, I call it the patriarchal cock-tease. It teases women with a small amount of independence – just enough to maintain the façade of ‘independent women’. No doubt, there are many women who are highly independent and challenge the society’s expectations of women at every given point but the majority are still pressurised by the patriarchy into following the rules set specifically for women. How are we to do as we please when some of us can barely survive the wrath of patriarchy.


  2. Posted by Ashley Foley on November 6, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    I think what all these blogs have in common is the realization that while the work of feminism has gotten women far, it may not be far enough. Regarding the first blog post, although in western developed countries we have a come to a point where women can freely choose not to married, it is not the case in most other countries which is stated in blog post two as well, which even questions how far feminism has come in the western countries. Even though we may choose not to marry, it doesn’t mean it is not judge or accepted within society. A single mother or elderly single women will continue to be looked down upon by society if feminism Dissapears, as blog post two suggest. In order for women to have equal rights across the globe, and for blog post three’s suggestion that, ‘we can do what we want when we want’ to be true, women cannot let feminism become obsolete.


  3. Posted by Shani on November 6, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Anna’s blog highlighted how integral marriage is to a woman’s life in cultures across the world. There is always stigma attached on the bride’s side. The thing I found particularly interesting in Zoe Bairn’s interview was her comment that “Either you were going to get married, in which case you would be miserable […], or alternatively you would FAIL to get married”. So a grown man can shape his own life, but a grown woman would be married or be a failure. A man may be a bachelor, a groom, or a husband (which seems to be pretty positive if not neutral labels to me), but labels attached to women – such as virgin, bride, wife, widow, spinster, and so on – have more troubling connotations of ownership by men, as if their identity can only be defined in relation to men.

    Responding to Iman’s blog on the same interview, I think she is right to point out that there is much more freedom for western women of this day and age, and although that can still only be said for a small fraction of women in the world, marriage is no longer obligatory for many. Still, is it without stigma? Neeti raises an acute point that despite our “freedom”, we act within invisible boundaries that we are indoctrinated with at a very young age: we don’t walk through certain neighbourhoods, we carry alarms and pepper sprays, we hide the sanitary towels we buy, and we DON’T have to be wives but apparently we DO have to avoid gossip and shame by constantly analysing and anticipating what others will think.

    In Sofie’s blog, she calls freeing the nipple and letting the body hair grow “small things”, but examples of women’s bodies being dominated or controlled have a direct link to rape culture. Therefore, these smaller battles that feminist are engaging in may have more importance for desexualising womens’ bodies than it seems at face value. I agree that women of one cultural experience Speaking For another isn’t the best way forward. However I also think that feminism may not be unnecessary, but perhaps serves different women in different ways. Assuming that feminism is one umbrella that all women must stand under might be part of the problem.


  4. Posted by Georgia on October 5, 2017 at 7:36 pm



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