The definition of feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, excluding race, gender, ethnicity, ability and class discrimination. Feminism isn’t just about women; it is about men and it’s tough to tell the 21st century person this – even if it is online or on their smartphone, or on that advert just before the YouTube clip they’re waiting to watch.
Feminism is dying and we only have ourselves to blame. Men and women everywhere will mourn the loss, if it ever ceases to exist or is overridden completely. One should never force their opinions or comments onto others, especially with aggression or ignorance, but when I tell people that I am a Feminist, they give me a look. Yes, a look. If I believe that everyone should receive the same treatment regardless of their personal history, colour of their skin or what genitalia they have under their clothes, why should I receive that look?
The gender stereotype is here, it is alive and kicking and it is a deadly disease. It is something that plants itself deep inside and grows each day, with every passing comment, advertisement and ‘look’ you receive from a stranger or somebody that you know. When you were small, you watched your mother, sister, cousin, aunty, grandmother and friends shave their legs and when you asked ‘Why?’, you may have received the answer ‘because that’s what women do’ – and if you asked why men don’t, you probably got ‘because men don’t’. You have as many years of experience as there are rings in a tree, of watching adverts with beautiful women wearing make-up and being ‘happy’, so why wouldn’t you want to be happy?
Some can argue that it is simply the media that has implanted all of these ideas in our heads and that we don’t have to conform to this if we don’t want to. However, ask yourself if you would really judge your friend, mother, or family member for not shaving their body hair? You can say no, but would you still go to the swimming pool, beach, or out with them with it on show and not feel ashamed or embarrassed? Are you sure you would be comfortable with that? When we can realise that even though a lot of the issues are from the media, it is culture that is the underlying problem with gender stereotyping and each of us is a part of that culture; including you.
Why, when I go to work and haven’t got any make-up on, do female colleagues say to me ‘well, you look tired’, or ‘you look unwell, how are you feeling?’ Gender stereotyping isn’t an activity only committed by men. This isn’t aiming fire at colleagues who take an interest of your personal well-being, but the ones who are slightly shocked at you not wearing make-up, or haven’t spent at least an hour curling your hair that morning.
Now you can say it is your choice to curl your hair and put on that mascara but who are you trying impress? Your reflection, or the people around you when they tell you how great you look? When you can honestly answer that question then we can honestly talk about gender stereotypes without pointing fingers, but by planning action.
Let’s start talking.