After having spent half my life performing, I woke up one morning and decided that I no longer wanted to.
I had just got back from working on a music project in The Netherlands for five months, where I’d travelled back and forth from London doing the odd commercial acting gig.
When people ask me why I left the entertainment industry, I usually give them the least politicised answer “I was aware that I was a woman that was ageing, and until there’s more of a female presence behind the camera the work produced will continue to be for the male gaze”. This is true, though the reason that really moved me to leave was: being a woman of colour who performs is loaded in a whole other way, it’s a position that societally we almost expect, and a position that perhaps we’re more comfortable with.
On January 21st 2017, 3 million people took part in one of the largest demonstrations our world has ever seen. The Women’s March for many was in direct opposition to President Trump and his highly publicised derogatory statements about women. Though, I ask the question: can we only be stirred to take action by issues that have the potential to directly affect us?
Or the people that we hold dearest? And, if that is the case, does this explain why so many who attended wouldn’t conceive of attending a Black Lives Matter march, which honours women such as Sandra Bland who have had their lives brutally taken at the hands of institutional prejudice? Or, is it because societally we’re more familiar with the idea of the black female body enduring violence? Being objectified? In exactly the same way that we expect to see black women entertain?
So, was this march for all women? Was it intersectional feminism at its finest? Did it represent women from all walks of life? And does feminism only have meaning when it’s in direct opposition to men? Because I have many men in my life who I consider to be truer feminists than many women that I know.
For me, feminism is also about everyday feminism. It’s about challenging the fact that women are unable to show their nipples in on/offline media. It’s about supporting Poetesses like Rupi Kaur who have had their works censored and deemed inappropriate by some social media channels. it’s about praising and taking a stand for women who choose to not hide away in toilets to feed their babies.
It’s about not policing other women’s sexuality. It’s about – not objectifying other women. It’s about realising that just because we’re women, this doesn’t mean that we’ve had the same experiences and that we can speak for all women. It’s about having empathy.
I hope that the momentum continues, though also, evolves past, dare I say it, mainstream feminism, to really challenging the everyday discrimination that happens without us batting an eye. There are differences between us, though these differences do not need to divide us.
What does feminism mean for you? Comment below.
Read our other blog posts here.
CONNECT WITH Sereena Abbassi
Sereena Abbassi is the Founder of All Here, a social enterprise that supports creative agencies to move away from quota driven diversity; to helping them create a truer inclusive space. Sereena is Britsh-Persian-Iranian-Jamaican. And has lived and worked in the U.S, The Netherlands, Iran, Spain & UK.