That’s right, I said it; Feminism. (I can hear gasps coming from somewhere in the distance.)
‘The Fault in Our Stars’ actress Shailene Woodley recently stated in an interview that she didn’t agree with feminism because “[she] love[s] men.” Of course, everybody has the right to associate with whatever political strands they choose, and whether Shailene Woodley would identify herself as a feminist or not, (although personally I find it extremely empowering) it is important to actually know what feminism really is, before disassociating with it.
Third Wave Feminism (in its most simple terms) is the belief in equality regardless of gender. That’s right folks, feminism isn’t in fact the movement of hairy arm-pitted bra-burners attempting to overthrow the male species (although imagine a world where the toilet seat is never left up…), feminism is the belief that men, women, transgender people, agender people or the infinite other types of gender (just look at Facebook’s 51 new gender options) are all equal and deserve to be granted the same basic rights.
The truth is, whether we like it or not, we live in a patriarchy. The pay gap between men and women isn’t a myth and it only takes a quick session on Facebook to become inundated with ‘get back in the kitchen’ comments. No matter how innocent these comments are, they are just a mere reflection of the more dangerous issues lurking beneath the surface. How many times have you felt terrified walking down the streets alone at night? How many times have you had to bend your head and look at the ground as you walk past a building site, ignoring the waves of demeaning catcalls? (no, it’s not a compliment) How many times have you put on your favourite outfit for a night out and changed your mind just in case someone thought you were ‘asking for it’?
Part of the issue, I believe, for why people do not want to associate with the movement, is just generally not understanding what it’s about because we’re all so used to living in our society that many of us don’t think to question it. Here are just a few examples of why feminism is important;
Because breasts and female sexuality is used to sell everything from shower gel to fast food, but breast feeding in public is taboo.
Because, in the US, only 17% of congress is made up of women, yet last year 700 bills were proposed to regulate a woman’s body.
Because of gender roles! This affects both men and women; from the moment your biological sex is confirmed as a baby it is traditional to either be given pink or blue. Girls tend to be given play kitchens and dolls whilst boys tend to be given trucks and army men. Girls are taught to be quiet and homely whilst men are told that they’re not allowed to cry or be emotional. This is particularly harmful for a child to have a healthy gender development and leads into poisonous binaries for later life. For example, whilst assertive women are ‘bossy’, assertive men are ‘confident’.
Because women are criticised for prioritising a career over a family but they are also shamed for staying at home and raising children in the 21st Century.
Because I’ve been told that if I want to make it as a successful writer, I’ll have to use my initials rather than my first name, because women sell less copies.
Because I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I’ll ‘never find a husband if I’m a feminist’, because, of course, finding a husband is every woman’s main goal in life.
Because 99% of the time when a woman talks about these issues, they are told to ‘calm down’.
For more amazing reasons for being a feminist check out Laci Green’s hilarious youtube video ‘Why I’m a… Feminist’.
I’d like to reiterate here that the main purpose of feminism is to achieve gender equality so everyone (not just women!) can be who they like without expectations or stereotypes holding them back, and this means that everybody, men and women, reserve the right to be a feminist or not. However, hopefully this article may have enlightened you as to what this movement really is, aside from its negative connotations.
I think we can all agree that whatever the method, equality is the way to go!