Good afternoon folks, I hope you all had an awesome Easter weekend.
I’ve been toying with writing this blog for a little while now as it seems to me everywhere I look at the moment someone has a view on what it means to be a feminist. Some are good, some are awful, and some are quite frankly downright rude.
I’ve only really started to identify as a feminist over the last few years, and that doesn’t mean that one morning I just woke up and had a eureka moment, it was more that the people I was moving in circles with were speaking more about it.
I wanted to educate myself on the subject. In doing so, it became something I could really identify myself with. It was by no means an easy effort, because we have been bought up in a culture where women don’t traditionally stand up for one another or even with one another if we don’t agree with their actions, rather we choose to judge others based on their choices, and that really sucks.
So what even is feminism?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘a feminist’ as ‘An advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women’. Yet the term ‘feminist’ has always been controversial. This is partly because it implies an ‘anti-men’ stance, whereby all women hate men.
Huffington Post writes:
Feminism is not the belief that one gender should be raised in power above another. The very definition of feminism shows a complete opposition to this belief. So when people comment against feminism, they are supporting sexism. There is no sitting on the fence. You are either a feminist or sexist. Unfortunately, most sexists don’t know they are sexist, and compose the majority of the population. They are unaware that sexism is something that has been forced on to them through the brainwashed media of a patriarchal society.
And that makes total sense, right?
Basically, we have been bought up in a society whereby women haven’t always been given the same treatment as men. Men have always been given the superior status, whereby they are the ones who go to work, bring home a paycheck, can have as many sexual partners as they wish, and basically have been given this ideology that the world is theirs for the taking. Women on the other hand, have until quite recently had it a lot less easy. We only started working in offices in the last century and even now we are dictated on the roles we take and even the footwear we choose. Back then there was an air of entitlement that men had that meant women often were given low paying, low status roles, unless of course you were pretty and came from a white middle class family.
Feminist movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for women’s rights, including the right to vote, to hold public office, to work, to earn fair wages or equal pay, to own property, to receive education, to enter contracts, to have equal rights within marriage, and to have maternity leave. Feminists have also worked to promote bodily autonomy and integrity, and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.
Fast forward to 2017, and we are still faced with a number of these problems. Rape culture, domestic violence, sexual harassment, the wage gap, among many other things are still issues that women around the world are facing on a day-to-day basis. The rise of the internet hasn’t been the best in helping with this, although one cannot argue that it has also been a great tool to spread the word on fighting feminist issues.
So what does it mean to be a feminist in 2017? Some people would argue that we women folk have had a lot handed to us (Note, we haven’t, we had to fight for it) and we should be happy with out lot, right? What are we even complaining about? I mean, we can work in virtually any sector, we can participate in all sports, we can potentially earn just as much as our male coworkers, what more do we want?
Quite a bit actually, but no less than any man has.
As a feminist, there are a number of things I strive for:
- I want to be taken seriously as an individual in my own right for my achievements and not because of my relationship status. Stop calling single women crazy cat ladies, you can be a cat lady with a boyfriend – and what about guys? why are single men bachelors and women spinsters?
- I want the right to choose if I can have an abortion, and I don’t want to be judged because of my choice. Its my body.
- I want the right to equal pay in the work place. That means if I go on maternity leave, I want to ensure it’s not a struggle, and if I work as hard and I’m as competent as my male counterparts I should get paid the same, right?
- I want people to not judge me based on my looks, my size, my hair type, but on who I am as a person. I’ve been bullied my entire life because of my huge hair, terrible skin and basically awkward air about me – guess what? I’m freaking awesome.
- I want people to stop saying things like “ew she wears too much make up” “that’s why you take her swimming on a first date”, and “you look better without make up” and other such comments. If you think we spend £45 on foundation for you, News flash, people don’t wear make up for anyone but themselves, so stop telling them not to. (also regarding taking a girl swimming on a first date, they invented waterproof setting spray ages ago, so, jokes on you)
- I want for myself and every other women to know that our bodies are not up for grabs, irregardless of the clothes we wear, and to not have to fear going out at night because someone might see my slightly low-cut top as an invitation to come on to me and to harass me.
- I want rape culture to be stamped out. I want men to be taught the consequence of their actions and that consent is mandatory. It really upsets me that women still have to attend lectures on how to avoid rape at university – here’s a wild idea, why not just spread the word of DO NOT RAPE SOMEONE.
- I don’t want to be judged based on my sex life – if a woman chooses to sleep with someone, why is that anyone’s business to call her a slut? Why don’t men get the same? And if a woman has only had 2 sexual partners in her life, why does that make her frigid?
I don’t want my niece to grow up in a society where she feels the only way she is going to achieve anything in life is by being thin, being statistically pretty, and overly sexualized, while also not being too sexy, or too available, because we all know men can’t help themselves. I also want her to know she is capable of doing anything she wants, and that no-one can hold her back. I want her to be able to grow up confident that being an intelligent, independent young lady who is in control of her own body and her own choices is frikkin awesome..
I want these things not just for me but for everyone. People assume that feminists are bra burning man haters. We aren’t that at all, we just want everyone to be equal. But there is some frustration behind the fact that men have been telling women what they should do with their bodies for a long time, and that’s not right (Donald Trump signing an exec. order on women’s reproductive rights is a fine example).
So in my quest to be a better feminist I promise:
To compliment people on things other than their looks – there is more to a person than a face.
I wont judge other women – From clothing to lifestyle habits, everyone has a different way of living. Because of the way the media has portrayed women, it’s easy to get thrown off when someone has a different take on things. Instead of letting unconscious judgement get the best of me I want to be active about acceptance. If it makes her happy and she isn’t hurting anyone, why not let her be?
Include men in the fight for feminism – more often than not men want to be involved in these things too.
Stop apologising – Research has shown that women apologise far more often than men, and you’ve probably noticed this in your daily life as well. There’s a difference between being polite and apologising for taking up space.
Watch my mouth – As per Tina Fey in Mean Girls “If we all call each other sluts and whores, we are allowing others to call us sluts and whores”. Stop calling each other sluts and whores!
Stand up for myself – Both at work and in my personal life I have always been a bit of a sheep, I don’t like to argue my case, but if I’m right, I will fight my own corner.
Talk about women’s issues more openly – Periods, while not pretty are a part of who women are. If we want to remove the taboo, we need to talk about them more. Also Aunt Flo stopping by is a part of life that all women go through, its not a secret, and its more proof of how amazing our bodies are.
Talk about feminism – The feminist movement still has a long way to go. Helping the next generation of women kick major butt is the end goal, and by ensuring we shout about it to anyone from family friends to your own daughter will help normalize the conversation. Even a few words of encouragement or admiration to a stranger can make a huge difference.
Feminism isnt about making women strong.
We already are strong.
Its about changing the way the world sees our strength.
If you want to educate yourself more on feminism, why not try the podcast “stuff mom never told you”.
Pop on over to http://www.stuffmomnevertoldyou.com for a whole archive of information on feminism and women’s issues.
Head to https://www.thefword.org.uk for all things contemporary UK-based feminism has to offer
Check out www.bustle.com for all the best news for women today.
Until next time, Hx