Okay so something that I am so passionate is not just feminism but clearing up myths of feminism, as a 17 year old white girl I understand that I do not have much life experience in comparison to other people and feminism has benefited me greatly, I am aware of my privilege and I wanted to use it to speak up about a few things.
I feel as though many people have their own ideas of what feminism is which is great that they can apply it to them, however, some people take the meaning of it and twist it in a way to portray feminists in a way that is evil and man hating, confusing it with misandry. This is not the case and the problem with having so many spread their own toxic opinion is that people believe them and think that is how all feminists think.
I think we need to regroup as a society and rethink what feminism is, the dictionary definition as given by Google states:
- the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
Equality is the key word here, there are both men and women who do not stick to this, it is about raising women up to be on the same level as men, not forcing men down, but there are times where this meaning should change as people are quick to throw around the word “equality” when some people actually mean equity, for example on the terms of maternity and paternity leave, a man and a woman should both have the same amount of time when it comes to bonding with the baby, but then the women should have an extra few weeks for her body to recover from the labour. This is equity, as everyone is getting what they need and what is applicable to them as an individual. A second example of equity is that women should be cut slack when taking time off for having bad periods, menstruating is painful and uncomfortable for women as your uterus lining is literally been forced out of a small hole of your body, therefore it will hurt. Sometimes it is easier to undergo this process at home in comfortable clothes instead of in a busy office wearing office attire and then undergoing a series of “Why are you so mad today?” jokes. This isn’t to say that women should just get a day off whenever they feel uncomfortable but I do think that there should be greater education for men to learn what periods are, from a biological and also a more emotional point of view.
There are instances where equity does become equality such as jobs and wages, men and women should be paid the same amount for doing the same job with the same level of effort, this is a no-brainer and an example where equality is needed. This is where the confusion does set in for some people and they start to wonder whether someone should be given special treatment or not and I think it is examples like this where you need to see this person as completely neutral and not to see their sex as a factor of who they are.
There is the misconception that feminism is about the superiority of women and that this allows women to lash out at men and allow them to become violent towards them. This is not an open invitation to become violent, it is an opportunity to use your voice that you have gained through the movement, do not be that women who poured acid on men’s crotches because they are man spreading. It gives feminists a bad reputation, not all of us want to burn our bras we just want to be able to not wear one and then not have men stare at our nipple through our shirts.
One of the many issues that is currently faced within this community of feminists is that there are people who believe that feminism is only applicable to cisgender white women. This is completely false, if you identify as a woman then you deserve the rights benefits of feminism as much as anybody else. This is such an important topic as transgender women (particularly transgender women of colour) are the most marginalised group within society and therefore should be allowed to have feminism apply to them and shows how important intersectional feminism is. Intersectional feminism aims to include all women from different races, gender identities, sexualities and abilities and recognises that not all women experience misogyny is the same way. Some people face blatant misogyny day after day through verbal and physical abuse, whereas other people face more subtle forms where someone gets a little to handsy or says the wrong thing every now and again. By acknowledging that everyone experiences this differently it allows people to have their experiences validated which is so important.
I think it is easy for people to assume that feminism has basically done its job now and that there’s no real need for it anymore, but what they fail to see is that standards may be improving the Europe and the US but in more eastern countries there is so much to be done. Women got the right to vote in England in 1928, in 2015 women got the right to health care and education without permission in Saudi Arabia there is clearly a problem here. According to the World Health Organisation more than 200 million girls and women had undergone FGM. This is why we still need feminism.
Feminism is still needed because of the women across the world who have no rights and are subject to torture, have no education or healthcare, not because we think that there should be a green woman on a traffic light instead of a man. It is because of feminism that my life is improving and I am more likely to earn the same wage as a male counterpart but just because it benefits me doesn’t mean that it is done.