I most definitely wasn't always a feminist. I think it was only this past year when I began really understanding what feminism or being a feminist meant to me. I typically shy away from labels because it tends to be something that people use to categorize you or to assume you are one thing over another, or more of one thing than another thing. I remember a conversation I had back in high school one time with a fellow classmate who vehemently identified as a "hard-core feminist". I, being genuinely curious about her passion, asked her what being a feminist meant to her. She, first very rudely expressing her disapproval of my lack of knowledge on feminism, carried on to explain to me that feminism was about breaking down the patriarchy put up by males and putting men back in their place. I asked her what "their place" meant. And she proceeded to explain to me a whole spiel about how men are psychologically and biologically less advanced than women so women rightfully should become leaders in society and men should scratch their dicks at home.
This explanation left me even more confused, and frankly, very turned off by the idea of feminism. So I looked up what feminism was online. Feminism was described as: "the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of equality of the sexes." There is nothing about men being "slower" than women, or women being "rightfully" society's leaders. Hm. If equality, freedom and and choice are the foundation of feminism, then I don't think feminism is that bad. In fact, it's pretty freakin' awesome.
I think I began identifying as a feminist when I realized that we really needed more women standing up for other women. Not only because of the unequal opportunities and still the existing wage gap between women and men, but because women just get so much crap. From other men, from other women. We just get so much crap on a daily basis.
Oh, are you a woman who is strong-willed and determined to rise up the corporate ladder and pursue your professional passion?
Do less, calm down. You're too aggressive. Just marry a rich dude.
Oh, are you a woman who embraces the traditional ideals of finding a life partner and is excited to delve into the journey of motherhood?
You're a shame and embarrassment to progressive women, how could you be so simple?
(Here I would like to note that I've actually been told these from both men and women. Le sigh.)
It's already so hard being a woman. Not only does our uterus attack us once a month while our hormones erupt into a mass of zits, bloated tummies, and erratic mood swings, but also as women, because we're women, we face annoying, unnecessary harassment on almost a daily basis. I don't know why I can't walk down the street wearing a cute dress that I feel awesome and beautiful in, without a man yelling out some obscene, degrading comment and ultimately depleting my entire life and existence to a "hella fine ass". Why can't I talk about my professional goals and my career aspirations without people throwing me the, "that's what everyone says before they get knocked up and become stay at home moms" speech?
(I. ABSOLUTELY. HATE. THAT. SPEECH.)
However, at least to me, the most terrifying threat to women are the women who preach female empowerment and preach lifting up other women, meanwhile scheming and manipulating under their fake social media posts of empowerment, because in actuality, they think everyone else is competition that they must crush and become better than. Now, don't get me wrong. I've always thought that some healthy competition can be great. Competition can promote self-betterment and encourage people to never settle and keep moving forward. It could be used to have others inspire you to do more and be more. But the type of competition that I've seen these particular women take part in, is one that belittles and limits other women. Why? I honestly don't know entirely, but I've come to the conclusion that it must be because they just cannot stop comparing themselves to powerful and aspiring women, and in spite and in jealousy will do anything to judge other women and keep them from rising. It's just very unsettling to me.
This idea of women empowering other women, women speaking up for other women, women celebrating other women just seems so necessary and appealing to me. As jealous creatures in our most simple state, I understand why female empowerment can be difficult for us. We compare, we contrast, we feel inadequate (society's pressures don't help much of course), we think we need to fight, demean, judge, manipulate in order to survive and thrive in this chaotic world.
But, hear me out. When we as women already have so much to deal with, like: (1) just being a biological female, (2) society looks at us like soft, delicate things only good for our smooshy tits (I normally hate this word, but using it to emphasize my point) and asses, (3) women who become moms are deemed "unsexy" and "undesirable" females only good for looking after children and cooking dinner for their husbands (ugh), (4) when it's so freaking hard to feel confident and beautiful because society tells us we need to look a certain way only achievable by altering our original versions to be deemed as beautiful or attractive by others, (5) WHEN BUYING JEANS IS SO DAMN HARD BECAUSE WOMEN ARE ALL SHAPED DIFFERENTLY BUT MAJOR RETAILERS DON'T SEEM TO HAVE GOTTEN THE MEMO ... Clearly, this list can go on forever.
So how awesome would it be if women could become allies to other women?
...Because who understands the struggles of being a woman - than other fellow women?
So, this got really long. But I just wanted to share that the words "feminism" and "feminist" have become very skewed in the media because of the few radical people who have used the labels wrongly because they are either unaware of what feminism really means or they are just jealous and want to spread hate (Emma Watson's "indecent" magazine cover - At least in my opinion, I found her photograph very tasteful, and as a young, powerful, and influential woman, I admire her activism and also embracing the femininity and beauty of her own body). Anyway, yes. I believe I am a feminist. I stand up for women's rights and equality. Feminism isn't about judging and scrutinizing every women's actions and point of views and it most definitely isn't about stepping on or belittling men. It's about freedom, about liberation, about women having a choice. Along with the core principles of feminism, I also advocate for women's empowerment as an essential pillar of feminism. Genuine mentorship between fellow women, true female empowerment, real, honest, edifying sisterhoods. How awesome and powerful.
But I'm curious. What are your thoughts on feminism and how it's evolved throughout history? What about how it's being portrayed in the media today?
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