Feminism. Feminist. Words that should have such good connotations attached to them- for being progressive, standing up for what’s right, equality- and yet actually seem to have the complete opposite stigmas held to them and as a feminist myself I struggle to understand why.
I find it extrodinary that a person, man or woman, can proclaim that they are not a feminist. So, you’re sexist then? No? If a person was to say that they didn’t believe in the equality of the races, then they are racist. If a person was to say that they didn’t believe in the equality of the LGBT community, then they are homophobic. Yet, people around the world openly admit to not agreeing with feminism, which is purely about equality of the sexes, yet apparently they aren’t sexist. You can’t have it both ways.
I have heard comments from some people when discussing feminism such as “but what about equality for men” and quite honestly they sound like the type of people that say “white lives matter too” (insert eye rolling emoji here). Of course white lives matter too and of course men’s equality matters too but neither have faced the same oppression and inequality throughout history so I’m sorry that they don’t have their own word or slogan for any discriminations that they have but to be honest it would have been great if there was never any inequality to start with and the feminist movement never had to begin- but there was and it did. And thank god it did because without those women that stood up for all the future generations, that fought for what they knew was wrong and some dying in the process, we might not be where we are today. Which is why for women especially to say they don’t agree with feminism kills me a little inside. If the movement never began, we wouldn’t be allowed to vote. To vote! Just let that just sink in for a minute. We were viewed as such second class citizens, so unimportant, our views so dismissible that we didn’t have a say in the country that we lived in. Nothing, nada, zilch- men decided for us. Let us not take for granted the rights that we have now because of the women who cared in the past. It is now your duty to care today.
I have also received comments from people that claim I can’t be a feminist when I’m a model and pose in my underwear for a living (there aren’t enough eye rolling emojis to put here). One of the main rights that feminists fight for is choice, to do whatever they damn well want to do and be. I got the good grades and I have my degree, yet I chose to be a model. I enjoy it and I am proud to be part of one of the very very few industries where women get paid more then men (which men complain about- rightly so admittedly but the hypocrisy is obvious). People who claim women like Beyoncé or Emily Ratatowski can’t be feminists because they show off their bodies are missing the point- they are their bodies to do with as they wish. When Justin Beiber can share a naked photo of himself on Instagram and be gushed over and a woman does it and she’s an embaressment– sexism is still rife, make no doubt about that.
To touch back on men’s inequality- because I think it’s important to acknowledge both sides when fighting for equality- they are very much real. This facade that men shouldn’t be seen as weak, shouldn’t cry or talk about their problems is so dangerous. Male suicide rates in the UK are three times higher than women and there has to be an underlying issue there. They need to be addressed promptly- but for a man to agree with feminism it doesn’t dismiss these issues. You can agree with equality for both. The HeForShe campaign created by UNWomen and fronted by Emma Watson is a great start for men to openly agree with feminism but the fact that in 2017 we still need a campaign to get men on board for women’s rights baffles me. Men of quality do not fear equality. I think we all just need to look out for each other more- I want men to have the same rights as me, and I want men to want me to have the same rights as them. Simple.
I don’t want to be told that I shouldn’t get in a taxi on my own because I might get attacked. That I might be raped. ‘Women shouldn’t walk on their own after dark’- well unfortunatley in Britain it’s dark come 4pm in the winter and I don’t want to have to be accompanied by a male just to go to and from work. How about instead of teaching how women can avoid being raped- lets teach men not to rape. Crazy idea?
I don’t want to live in a world where the President of the USA can talk about ‘grabbing a woman by the pussy’ and then be told I shouldn’t be annoyed over it because it’s just ‘locker room talk’. His views and comments towards women appal me and I find it so regressive that a man with his negative views about half of the population could have been voted into power.
I don’t want to open the newspaper and see the Prime Minister of the UK, the most powerful woman in Britain, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who deal with the upmost of important issues in our country be reduced to nothing but a comparison of their legs.
I don’t want to live in a world where in India a woman can be raped but then she can’t report it through fear of being punished herself for having sex outside/before marriage. Or even being forced to marry the rapist afterwards. Horrifying.
I don’t want to raise any future daughters I may have in a world where they are shamed for their own bodies. Where they are shamed for breast feeding. Where men in power can dictate whether they can have an abortion or not. If you believe there isn’t anything left to fight for, that we are already equal, then you’re wrong.
We are very lucky how far we have come in the West and to many it may seem like we are equal but I believe all women will encounter some type of sexism in their life, whether that be casual sexism in our society or something more sinister but there are women all over the world who are not so lucky, who are still oppressed and are still fighting for the things that we take for granted. Just because it may not directly effect you in your everyday life does not mean that you should ignore it and proclaim that feminism isn’t needed and you ‘don’t agree with it’. Women that you didn’t know fought for you to be where you are now, don’t turn your back on the people that still need fighting for.