Why ‘feminism’ isn’t a dirty word and why is feminism important (to me).

I grew up with someone, who didn’t have the word ‘equality’ in his vocabulary, whether that be equal marriage rights, equal right for all skin colors or equality between sexes. I grew up with someone, who would tell my mother that her place is in the kitchen, for years he protested against her having a job. I grew up with someone who said all gays needed to be shot because he believes it’s unnatural (I’m bisexual, sorry not sorry) and is as unforgivable as pedophilia. I grew up with someone that would disrespect one of my friends with snarky comments only because he was (obviously still is) black. I grew up with someone that I despise greatly yet also desperately want him to love me. This someone is now raising my little sister. This scares me.

It really saddens me to see the negativity that surrounds the term ‘feminism’. I am a feminist. By no means do I hate men, by no means I see them as lesser than women. I think it’s our own fault, as with any powerful and much-needed movement, there are radicals that will go to extremes to make a point whether it’s by force or by disrespect. I do not support that kind of approach. Yes, I am harsh and I will call someone a ‘sexist pig’ if they are being one – doesn’t matter you’re a man or a woman. I’m also not saying I will never cook for my partner or that I won’t be a home mom if the time ever comes to have kids.  That will be my decision to stay home or to look after household if I decide to.

“Feminist theory aims to understand gender inequality and focuses on gender politics, power relations, and sexuality. While providing a critique of these social and political relations, much of feminist theory also focuses on the promotion of women’s rights and interests. Themes explored in feminist theory include discrimination, stereotyping, objectification (especially sexual objectification), oppression, and patriarchy.” – Boundless ‘The feminist perspective’

I believe that in order to change someone’s opinion on a matter it is important to give them facts and reason with their logic. Humans are a stubborn bunch and force can only backfire, sometimes literally. The term ‘feminist’ was first created in early 18 hundreds. It started out in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, promoting women’s right to vote, continued to campaigning for legal and social equality for women in 1960s and then resurfaced in 1990s around issues of sexuality, challenging female heterosexuality and celebrating sexuality as a means of female empowerment. Although most feminist movements mainly focus on women’s rights, I strongly believe in, the inclusion of men’s liberation within its aims, because men are also harmed by traditional gender roles. If women are fighting over control and being seen as then men should have the same opportunity, they also should be accepted despite societies stereotypes.

As with any movement, there are split opinions, for example, towards sex industry as some feminists suggest that it’s exploitation and objection while others argue it’s women embracing their sexuality. However, both parties seem to agree that women should have full control over their bodies especially with female sexuality being largely controlled and defined by men in patriarchal societies.

“36% of people believe that a woman should be held wholly or partly responsible for being sexually assaulted or raped if she was drunk and 26% believe this if she was in public wearing sexy or revealing clothes.” – Amnesty International UK

I remember reading a quote ‘Because what men fear most about going to prison is what women fear most about walking down the sidewalk.’ As a strong, independent woman in the 21st century living in a free country, I can honestly say that the way I dress is no one’s business. I recognize my privilege as not every 22-year-old woman in this world can say that. This movement is so important because statistics like mentioned above belong in ice-age where there was no education or human rights. Whenever I hear such nonsense, I wish to question these individuals: what if your sister, daughter or mother was raped and the offender used this argumentation as a testimony for pleading not guilty, would that they find fair? Give it a thought.

I need feminism because when I walk on the street dressed in leggings, a hoodie, and converse, I get catcalled. I need feminism because when I walk on my lunch break around town in pencil skirt (past my knee, not that it should matter) and a blouse (buttoned up to the collar again not that it matter), I get cat called. And when I let the ‘predators’ know that I’m not one to be treated that way I get told off and turned into someone, who has no manners or respect. When they’ll learn not to objectify women on the street, I will learn my manners.

“Women earn 18% less than men on average.” – The Guardian

It saddens me to see that the hard work I put into progressing and learning is less valuable only because I was born a different gender. I pay the same fees as anyone else, I complete the same assignments and I have to pass the same exams – why is my work and time worth less?

“It is estimated that for each year a mother is absent from the workplace her future wages will reduce by 5%.” – The Guardian

This probably bothers me the most because as we all know it takes two to make a baby, yet somehow after carrying the child for 9 months and giving birth to it, women have less right to secure their work position or salary, which might affect the child’s life, just because of their gender. Intergenerational Commission explains this is due to mothers working part-time and losing valuable labor market experience due to taking time off. I mean, it makes sense, right? Still, doesn’t mean it’s right.

Of course, I also feel it’s important to acknowledge the struggle new dads have, with very little maternity leave allowance for them. In the UK men are entitled to two weeks of paid paternity leave. (gov.UK) Two weeks is hardly enough time to spend with a newborn baby, settle in and wrap one’s brain around being a father, finally.

I’m not an aggressive feminist.  I just want to shed some light on these issues, because I believe we don’t talk enough about them. These are just very few examples and a very simple Google search will reveal even more. All I’m saying is that people need to learn respect and understand the importance of education because I believe these issues will only get tackled trough educating society. Start with yourself!

And remember to be kind to one and other!

Note: originally written June 6th, 2015, edited January 6th, 2017.

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