I Confess I Woke up Like This
Feminism. It seems to be such a tricky and sensitive subject for many and yet is so simple to me. I initially planned to discuss raising awareness of what feminism is and why we should all be feminists but just goggling feminism brought to my attention the number of articles out there debating the "true" meaning of it and who should or shouldn't be feminists. Wow! Ok, so maybe I should start at my beginning at least...
I guess I have always been a feminist but never really understood what such a identity entails. All I knew growing up was the simple fact that double standards are bullshit. It started when I was an older teenager and my mother would have tell me off for not looking after my older brother, by cooking and cleaning for him. I didn't live with him or anything but my mother felt it was my duty as a women to go into my brother's flat and occasionally sort some things out for him. Now I wouldn't have had a problem with this if it was about doing these acts because we are family, we love each other and we look out for each other and when I asked my mother whether I could expect the same courtesy from my brother for my flat, she said no as he's a man! Bullshit double standard! Apparently because I have a vagina there are certain home duties I am damned to perform. I subsequently asked my mother that if I decided to get a penis attached to me, whether I would still be expected to do the cooking and cleaning. She was not impressed to say the least lol. Now, by no means do I judge my mother as I love her dearly and she has taught me so much about being a strong, independent women simply by being a single mother of 4 children. Unfortunately, in this context, she is a product of her Nigerian culture. But this was the start for me in attempting to understand the different expectations for women worldwide and as I exposed myself to more information I realized this isn't an issue that only affects African culture or what some might believe to be a problem for 3rd world countries or highly religious nations; it is a worldwide phenomenon that affects us all every single day. It is present in jokes, in catcalls, in language, in attitudes, in beliefs, in law systems, everywhere. I have read several books that have raised these points, some that have scared me and others that have been too blaise...but none that hit the nail on the head as much as the works of Jessica Valenti. After reading some of her books I was firm in my belief that I am an avid feminist! I recommend her to everyone, if for nothing else than to educate yourselves!
So what is feminism? People debate about this continuously but it is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes". And for me, it's that simple. Equality. But then we could debate what equality means and we then run the risk on entering a whirlwind discussion of ideologies. I personally and strongly feel that equality is being given the same chances and choices. That's not to say that we will all end up in the same place but at least we aren't deprived opportunities as a result of what genitals we hold. Seemingly people have raised issue with this arguing the it is not about choice, it is about resisting a patriarchal society that demands us to shave hair, wear high heels and be provocative. But what if there are some women that enjoy these things? There is the argument that these women have been brainwashed by the constructs of society. I can only use my own experience when I say that I enjoy shaving because it helps with hygiene purposes, I'm not always a fan of heels so I don't wear them too often and I don't mind being provocative at times when I deem it as fun with someone I like. I just want the choice over these things and I think women should have that choice. Feminism should be about giving women to right choose for themselves. Hell, giving men and women the chance to choose for themselves! If you want to sleep around, do so..if you want to remain celibate, carry on, if you want to be a stay at home mum or dad, good on you and if you'd like to chase your career, fantastic! All your own choice. Sadly, there are many out there that would disagree with me and feel that this is "pop" feminism, soft thinking in how to rid gender inequality. They attribute this kind of ideals to what is trendy at the minute, similar to actresses and models discussing feminism, as apparently they aren't classed as true feminists. Steam has erupted over the recent Chanel catwalk in Paris where models marched in 70s inspired couture supporting women's rights. Many feel that this is just a fad and I agree that it might be and that by next season we might see Scooby Doo being featured on catwalks but the fact that feminism is "trendy" right now isn't necessarily causing any harm. Perhaps it's about how we harness this energy to educate on equality. Talk has alsobeen raised about how it's delusional to think models can stand for feminist values when they they don't even represent the "real" women but that statement itself is just laced in judgement. I have several friends that find the fact that they are genetically slender and lacking curves being used to judge them as an "unreal" women offensive. There are differences amongst different women and different men and I urge you all to remember that one size of feminism does not fit all.
Finally, I implore you all to become feminists. People used to be so terrified and put off by the term, associating it with being anti-men, bra burning and I have even been called a tree-hugger (not sure how the two relate). But if you believe in equality and how erasing gender inequality can benefit both men and women, then you are a feminist!! Condemning women has no place in the modern world anymore and even if the word itself makes you uncomfortable, hold on to the ideals behind it. Educate yourself and others...it is only once we know better that we can do better so awareness really is the building block for this movement. I attach Emma Watson's speech at the UN because I found it very powerful even if she might be mocked as a "Harry Potter girl". The bit that stood out strongest for me was her questioning "if not me, who, if not now, when?". I believe we should all think like this and apply it to even the smallest tasks such as calling out those who would happily call a girl a slut for kissing two guys for example. Enjoy xo
*Title from Flawless Remix by Beyonce ft. Nikki Minaj