I’m a feminist.
For years, the word feminist was something I shied away from – more than that, I was very argumentatively not one. Feminists, to me, were over-sensitive girls who were trying too hard to feel ‘oppressed’, when actually they were just fine.
I thought feminism was girls getting upset over silly little jokes. It was getting opinions about men shoved in my face every other day. It was the idea that because I didn’t feel particularly career minded, I was somehow less of a woman.
My journey to becoming a feminist was a pretty long one. Mainly due to the fact that I had a complete misconception of what the word meant. I thought all the above things and so ran as far away from it as I could. Laughing at the kitchen jokes, criticising the ‘fact’ that all feminists wanting to be more powerful than men, and scorning the complete idea of the movement.
So many times I said: “It’s not equality they want – it’s to be in power over men. And besides, I don’t really think girls have it that bad anyway!”
Then, slowly, I began to listen more to ideas about feminism. And some things hit home. The fact that I can’t walk home alone in town on a Friday night without being hassled by someone. The fact that, as the amazing Always campaign pointed out, being feminine in society is definitely a negative – hit like a girl, run like a girl etc. The fact that if a women in power tells someone off, the criticism against them is a lot more derogatory than it would be if that was a man in power.
Maybe you’re reading this and you’re thinking I’m ungrateful. And maybe I agree with you – a couple of hundred years ago being a woman in Britain was a lot harder than it is now. But I’m not saying I’m a feminist just because of my experiences. I’m saying this because out of the over 700 million illiterate people in the world, two thirds of them are female. I’m saying this because in many countries, young girls are still forced to marry against their will. I’m saying this as even though I am privileged, I know that many people are not.
Things aren’t even close to perfect here, and that makes me really sad. But I am so grateful for how good things are in comparison to other countries or even other areas in Britain. I have the chance to go to university, to make a living if I want, to have children if I want.
Feminism, for me, is not about being more powerful than men. It’s about raising women to the same level – the same job opportunities, the same expectations. And in the same way, it’s letting men be what they want to be. Things like paternity leave and mental health care are so important, and a false sense of what masculinity is can stop them happening. A lack of equality hurts men in Britain as much as it hurts women.
Feminism is also not about having to be something. I don’t have to be career-minded because the advancement of women has provided these opportunities. Feminism is a fight trying to allow us to follow the paths we want to, whether that’s creating a career or a family or even both.
For such a long time, I thought these things but the word still terrified me. I didn’t want to be associated with the idea of misandry that I previously associated it with. But one of my good friends, Lauren, managed to say something that hit home for me.
I’m a Christian. I identify as a Christian and I’m happy to call myself a Christian, even though there are many other people who identify as Christians who quite frankly believe and do things that I don’t think are a true representation of what I believe. That doesn’t stop me identifying as one.
In the same way, I choose to identify as a feminist. Just because there are people out there who misrepresent the name, that doesn’t mean I’m going to not call myself one.
I am a feminist, and I’m finally at a point in my life when I’m not afraid to admit it. Not because I want to be better than anyone else, or because I’m bitter and angry – but because I’ve (with so much help from other people) identified a problem and want to see it changed.
This might be stating the obvious for a lot of you, but it’s taken a pretty long time for me to come to this conclusion – I wanted to post this just on the off chance there was someone else who was where I was even a year ago. So yeah, hope you enjoyed and hopefully this made sense! J
(And here is a link to the campaign I mentioned earlier – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs)