Feminism and The Big Selfie


The recent HeForShe campaign, kick-started by actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, has stirred up enormous debate about feminism, and more generally, equality. I showed my support for the movement by agreeing to Tweet a photograph of myself with my baby daughter Poppy, which Emma then Retweeted. The picture was quickly favourited and Retweeted by thousands of people.

Until recently, I have had very little to do with social media, but on this occasion it was fascinating, and honestly quite addictive, to see how quickly a message can spread. There is a broad spectrum of opinion about Emma’s speech at the UN summit, about the HeforShe campaign and about feminism in general. Some of it is radical, some of it popularist and, of course, some is “in-fighting”. This isn’t an uncommon scenario in social media, and on this occasion we see the irony of a message being shared to engender a unified view stirring up just the opposite: people splitting hairs and looking for differences within seemingly similar beliefs. We see people commenting on whether Emma is the right kind of feminist; are men able – are they allowed - to be feminists; what about all the other ways we are divided and seemingly demoted as humans?

The mind is complex; it divides, decides, judges and works based on the conditioning of its past experience. It has, by its very nature, a very limited view regardless of how informed we think ourselves to be. I am new to the feminist debate in the sense that I have never stood up and said “I support feminism” or perhaps more accurately “I am a feminist”. However, I am a long-time believer in the power of living as unified beings.

It is easy to focus on what separates us from one another – what we think gives us our ‘identities’. Differences are tangible – how we look, how we sound, how we express ourselves – but similarities are subtler. Our interconnectedness as beings is not something we can see; it is something we sense.

Imagine for a moment you were looking down on our planet from a very long way away (perhaps as a member of a more evolved society), what would you notice first? The differences between each human, or the similarities? What would you notice about mankind’s needs – those that are common, or particular to each grouping of the race?

This perspective is not unlike to the view we take when resting as consciousness in meditation. When we go deep in meditation we stop seeing separation and start seeing unity. We don’t create a fictional world where there are no differences, but instead we start to feel acceptance – a welcoming even – of those things that differentiate us because overall, we sense we are inherently one and the same. This removes our need to be aggressive, to inflict our opinions on others, or diminish others’ opportunities because of their differences.

The world over, we are taking pictures of ourselves and sharing them on countless platforms. With our selfies, we are not only trying to see ourselves, but asking others to see, and comment, on us too. However, asking the question “Who am I?” from a place of meditative inquiry might not give you the insight on your identity you thought you needed; it might instead show you not only who you are, but who everyone is. It will allow you step out of your smaller sense and instead feel into the Bigger Self – or, in social media terms, take a Big Selfie.