Feminist Perspectives: Scotland

As mentioned in my previous article, I want to share feminist stories and perspectives from around the world. This week, I am happy to share an interview I had with a dear friend, Nat, who I met on study abroad in Japan last year. Nat is from Scotland, and I wanted to ask her some questions about what it meant to be a feminist there. Without further ado, here is her interview.

The author (L) and Nat (R) moments before saying goodbye to one another and returning home 😥

What’s your definition of feminism? 

The easiest way I can put it is that, to me, feminism is working towards achieving full equality between genders globally.

Why do you identify as a feminist?

I identify as a feminist because of my answer above, really. I think it becomes apparent to a lot of women at a young age that we’re not treated the same way as and given the same opportunities as our male colleagues. (And I imagine the same goes for many NB people but I’m a cis female so I feel like I can’t speak for their experiences here!) I can’t remember when I started looking further into it, but I found that there are so many issues arising globally as a result of gender inequality and it makes you want to do something about it.

I think it becomes apparent to a lot of women at a young age that we’re not treated the same way as and given the same opportunities as our male colleagues.

How are feminists perceived in Scotland? Are many people feminists?

I’m not sure if I’m maybe affected here by the “uni bubble” that I’m in, but it seems to be generally accepted to be a feminist and be vocal about gender equality issues. However, I do remember in high school that there was a lot of backlash against an ‘equality club’ I was a part of after we complained about some pretty glaringly sexist issues in the school. We also had a few teachers who openly argued our presentations on gender inequality were incorrect despite us providing various reliable sources (WHO etc.) but we did also have strongly feminist teachers too. However, that isn’t to say that my small hometown is sexist whilst my university city is more progressive – it could definitely be down to the fact that a lot has changed everywhere in the years since I left high school. 

What issues are particularly salient for feminists in Scotland? What sort of changes do you want to see in Scotland that feminism can help with?

Scotland is honestly doing pretty well in terms of working towards gender equality, I have to say, but for each area where there has been progress, there still isn’t full equality. We have a female leader and a “gender-balanced cabinet”, but men still dominate the council chambers and NB and trans people have little representation. The pay gap is definitely narrowing, but it still exists. I think a major issue that needs more attention brought it to are cases of domestic violence and sexual harassment and assault. I would also like to see more being done regarding stalking as a crime because it’s often regarded as something that you “can’t do anything about” until someone has been hurt. Feminism would of course help with these issues because, whilst anyone can be affected, women are often the victims of these crimes. (Though I do believe feminism would help male victims of these crimes too.)

Scotland is honestly doing pretty well in terms of working towards gender equality, I have to say, but for each area where there has been progress, there still isn’t full equality.

Have you been involved in any global movements?

I’ve participated in societies based around equality-focused organisations such as Amnesty International, attended local protests and signed petitions but that doesn’t really feel like enough to say I’ve been involved in any global movements honestly. I would love to get more involved and I’m looking to get involved in local organisations that encourage women and NB people to participate in stereotypically “male” professions and hobbies.

Are you aware of the prevalence of femicide? Do you perceive it as an issue in Scotland?

I was aware of femicide in that I know the leading cause of premature death for women globally is men’s violence against women. I would definitely consider it an issue in my country as well. 

[AN: Check out my previous article for more information on femicide]

Is there anything you think the world could benefit from learning from Scotland or Scotland’s feminism?

[AN: Refer three questions back for more information] Students also get free sanitary products here so that’s fun. 

The author and Nat enjoying traditional Japanese wagashi.

Special thanks to Nat for sharing her story and being an all around lovely person. If you’re interested in what’s going on in Scotland today, I highly encourage you to get informed about the Scottish Independence movement, which you can start by reading about here.

[Featured image from Wikimedia; public domain]

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