In the spirit of International Women’s Day (girl power!!!!!), I’ve decided to write about a topic I’ve felt increasingly passionate about lately: feminism.
I’ve had an interesting upbringing regarding the topic of feminism; I never really identified as a die-hard feminist until recently — until college, actually. I was blessed enough to have a very supportive upbringing; I never felt inferior to my brothers, I never felt like I couldn’t rise to my full potential, I never felt what many other young girls feel each and every day. Despite being blessed enough to always feel equality, I wasn’t oblivious to what many women around the world do face daily. Sure, I was upset about it, sure, I knew it wasn’t right…but I also knew the connotation that feminism had within popular culture: man-hating-women who yearned for superiority over their fellow race. With that connotation in mind, I remained silent and below the radar.
Since coming to my college, my outlook has taken a 180 degree turn. I’ve become outspoken against injustices, I’ve become educated, and I’ve become relentless with my beliefs. Above all, I’ve become a loud and proud feminist. This epiphany arrived upon taking my first Gender Studies course and being graced with the presence of my absolutely kick-ass, blaringly confident, and fabulously chic professor. I really couldn’t even tell you what class material it was that inspired me to adopt this persona, but I do know that something clicked within those first few weeks.
There are things that I’ve had to explain time and time again to so many individuals since becoming outspoken about my beliefs: No, I don’t hate men. No, just because I’m not directly experiencing inferiority doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. No, just because women have more rights than ever doesn’t mean there isn’t more to be accomplished. No, I don’t wanna burn my bra and run rampant in the streets.
No, I don’t hate men. The core of feminist beliefs is that all genders, all sexes, all races, literally ALL BEINGS are created equal and should be treated as just that: equals. Listen up, men are important in the world too. I, for one, definitely don’t want to get rid of them. We would legitimately die off as a human race without them. I just want to be seen as equal to them. I don’t want young girls being discouraged from following a career path because it’s a “man’s job”. I don’t like to look at the Fortune 500’s list of CEO’s to find that only 4.4% of those positions are held by women. I don’t want young women with a less supportive upbringing than mine to believe that their only place in life is in the home. If that’s their choice, you go girl and run with it! But I would be shocked to hear of a young boy being raised with the expectation of skipping out on a higher education to cook and clean for his successful wife.
The topic of feminism even affects the movies we watch and grow to love. If you know me, you know I love mindless movies and your typical chick-flicks. What I don’t like, though, is watching one dimensional female characters who are pegged as stereotypes. There’s even a “test” for this: the Bechdel test. This test identifies movies that include two female characters who converse with each other about anything, literally ANYTHING, besides a male. The movies that include independent female characters that can last a whole two hours avoiding dialogue about men pass this test. Unfortunately, lots and lots of movie fail it — even The Secret Life of Pets. A movie about dogs failed this, let that sink in. In a world as vast and endless as today’s, there is no excuse for women to not be able to rise to their full potential. Unfortunately, though, some aren’t even able to have an opinion. I’m a feminist for them. I use my voice for them.
No, just because I’m not directly experiencing inferiority doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Hopefully I’ll never experience the wage gap, hopefully I never experience the difficulty of accessing affordable and reliable birth control and health screenings, and my gosh, hopefully I never experience the unspeakable actions of sexual assault. But the harsh truth is that so many women do. I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m blessed. I’m blessed with the opportunity to invest in a higher education, I’m blessed with the fact that I will (hopefully) be graduating with a job that includes healthcare benefits, I’m blessed with the fact that I’ve had a safe upbringing. But so many women don’t.
As of the end of 2016, on average, women experienced a wage gap of 20%; women got paid 80 cents for every dollar of work done by men with the same education, the same credentials, and the same responsibilities. That gap gets even wider and wider when you take into account women of color or individuals with varying sexual orientations. I’m a feminist for them.
Many women aren’t as lucky as I am to have access to reliable birth control and health screenings. Many women have to live by the “fingers-crossed method” regarding their health because the Planned Parenthoods in their area have been shut down due to the inaccurate perception that they’re just abortion clinics in disguise. Did you know that men, too, can benefit directly from the services provided at Planned Parenthood? Did you know that only 3% of ALL services are actually abortions? Unfortunately, the inaccurate perceptions surrounding them are robbing women from their right to reproductive health. I’m a feminist for them.
Statistically speaking, one in five women will experience sexual assault of some sort in college alone. Even worse than that? 63% of those assaults never go reported. Those numbers increase drastically when speaking about more underprivileged areas. Society has formed this connotation around rape that makes women feel inferior, it makes women feel like it’s their fault. I’ve even heard women my age confidently state that they believe rape “doesn’t exist.” It’s opinions like these and many others that make it so incredibly difficult for victims to get proper help, something that everyone deserves. I’m a feminist for them.
No, just because women have more rights than ever doesn’t mean there isn’t more to be accomplished. I’ll keep this one short and sweet. There is so much to be improved still. It would be a sheer dishonor to those brave women who marched and marched for our voting rights to just stop now. There’s more to be done.
No, I don’t want to burn my bras and run rampant in the streets. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably the girly-est girl you’ll ever meet. Just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean I don’t think about my dream wedding day. Just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean I’m trashing all of my makeup. Just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean I don’t like the color pink. Just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean I don’t love getting a compliment from my boyfriend. Just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate getting the door held for me. It just means that I like holding the door, too.
I know this post is going to cause controversy. I know that many people have the idea that they don’t need to be a feminist — that females are pretty dang equal to males as is and that they don’t personally feel affected. I’m a feminist for you, too. Promise.
I’ll get off my soap box now and allow you to go out and enjoy the rest of your day. Maybe even hold the door for a man walking in behind you? Ya know, because feminism.
Happy National Women’s Day to all of us strong, independent women. We’ve come so far — so let’s keep going!
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