the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
I think sometimes we get lost in the meaning of feminism. Some people think it’s hairy women trying to cause havoc because we can’t find men to love us. Whereas others think it’s a radicalised notion in which we all hate men. However, obviously, these are just stereotypical, untrue versions of what we stand for.
I am a feminist, and I will admit that to anyone who asks. But in school I wasn’t taught that was an ok or positive movement to follow. My technology teacher when I was 13 always told me women weren’t fit to do wood and metal work, we should stick to cooking or textiles and no one pulled him up on it or questioned his reason. I was instantly confused by this, my parents bought me up to think that everyone is equal, and gender, race, religion, age, etc… shouldn’t matter. And to me that’s what feminism is, equality and striving for that equality in all walks of life. Not making either sex dominant, or begrudging someone because of their identity. Its impact is crucial in changing social normalities; for example, if a male is abused, hurt or shows emotion, he’s told to ‘man up’ – phrase which I despise. I was sexually abused by people I trusted and cared for, but I was so scared to go to the police, or anyone for that matter, because I knew that I wouldn’t have been taken seriously. For a short while it consumed me. It’s life changing and traumatic but rather than “are you ok?” or “do you need help?”, the most common questions I got asked were “how drunk were you?” “did you lead him on?” “but you didn’t say no the first time…” “what were you wearing?” (disclaimer – I know that abusers can also be women and by no means am I saying every man is like this, this is just my personal experience!).
My main aim is to change this arrogance and get any victims of these crimes help. Not unnecessary judgement.
After this, I reached out online, curious to see what feminism means to other’s… and these were the responses:
“A movement for the liberation of women from patriarchy”
“To me feminism is a million small things that all add up- not shaving my legs and feeling good about it, empowering other women instead of putting them down, acknowledging and seeking to end the wage gap
“feminism is the movement for equal rights between sexes and genders, although sadly I feel that misogynist groups have tainted the word and it's meaning, causing a lot of people to misunderstand what it's really about”
“Feminism means that people are viewed and treated due to their talent and behaviour, and not on their gender or sex”
“Feminism is equality. The movement is to make women equal to men. The time it became a movement was when women were thought of as lesser than men so it was to change views on women.”
“To me feminism is equal treatment for all genders. Full stop.”
“ 'The glass ceiling was made to be broken' - quote by my dad. We should be empowering women to be themselves not putting them down”
“Feminism is simply striving to eliminate prejudiced attitudes, behaviours and discriminatory practices between all genders on the ground of equality. In some instances it is as simple as acknowledging an issue exists (such as the widespread denial of the wage gap or that sexual assault and rape is an epidemic that needs addressing directly) or the empowerment of women in situations or roles in which they would traditionally have been dismissed or not given equal opportunity.
Feminism is NOT rivalry over who's problems are worse and it is not a word to be used as leverage to suppress women's views or fights for equality or to claim that women are seeking privileged treatment without vindication. I find feminism ties perfectly into a number of social justice battles with a number of issues spanning across fights against prejudice towards certain races, religions, beliefs, disabilities and sexual orientations. Saying the common phrase of 'i'm an egalitarian but not a feminist' or 'i'm support equality but not feminism' is a paradox. Quite simply, if you stand for equality and equal opportunity you are a feminist”
“Well fuck sake. Feminism means equality. Simple.”
“Feminism is cAN WE ALL PLEASE BE EQUAL THANK YOU It's not about "women are better than men" Equally it's not about "men are better than women" It's about "all people deserve the same rights" whether man, woman, non-gender specific, transgender, gender fluid, it shouldn't matter what gender someone identifies as. They should always get the same rights.”
“Feminism is equality, feminism is supporting other women. Supporting LGBT people. Supporting people of colour. Supporting disabled people.”
“Feminism to me is equal rights and opportunities for all genders. No one should be discriminated against for their sexuality or gender. In my opinion it should be men, women and transsexuals.”
“to me feminism is equality in every area for men and women or at least giving women the choices and opportunities to do things, and then whether they pursue it or not, being fine with it. Its for men, women, gay, straight, Christians, muslims, black, white. Its for everyone. And its called feminism because if its "equalism" you aren't recognising the fact that women are historically opressed because they are women. Yes men are opressed to but not usually because they're men”
“Feminism to me is important because when I was sexually assaulted I was told "boys will be boys" and I got no help or support from college other than moving me into a different class full of people who hated me because it was too much of an "inconvenience" for him to be moved. The school system needs feminism, they need to learn that behaviour is not okay and brushing aside a victim is just disgusting in every regard”
Recently on Twitter, an article was posted about how a sticker may be able to detect sexual assault, a girl quote retweeted it, captioning it “Please just stop fucking raping us”, followed by something that made me rage. Someone quoted that tweet saying, “Fuck off feminists”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for freedom of speech and everything online should be taken with a pinch of salt and trolls should be ignored. But I cannot fathom how someone would 1) be against equal rights (feminism is not giving women privileges) and 2) ignore the fact these tweets originated with a way to help people who have been sexually abused.
I tweeted about this, probably more aggressively than needed, and the responses from this users’ friends astonished me. They were joking about raping people and telling girls they should “give [them] a smile” when they were fighting back. They made assumptions on who I am as a person based on where I lived and the fact I’m taking a gap year. It’s infuriating how egotistical these people are, I wanted to scream at them why I was standing against their pure senselessness but if you argue with an idiot they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you on sheer experience.
The point I’m getting at is we need feminism to combat this! No one should live in fear of who they are and pro-active feminists like Maya Angelou and Malala Yousafzai are inspirations. They stand for bravery and equality, for me they represent feminism and are huge influences in the movement.
“I raise up my voice - not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard... we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” - Malala Yousafzai
“Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest” – Maya Angelou
There is a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that’s featured in Beyoncé’s song Flawless that also sticks with me:
“We teach girls to shrink themselves To make themselves smaller We say to girls “You can have ambition But not too much You should aim to be successful But not too successful Otherwise you will threaten the man” Because I am female I am expected to aspire to marriage I am expected to make my life choices Always keeping in mind that Marriage is the most important Now marriage can be a source of Joy and love and mutual support But why do we teach to aspire to marriage And we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to each other as competitors Not for jobs or for accomplishments Which I think can be a good thing But for the attention of men We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings In the way that boys are Feminist: the person who believes in the social Political, and economic equality of the sexes”
I’ve touched on some very complex, personal and delicate themes in this post and I urge anyone who is feeling worried to get help from someone, below I’ve linked useful websites.