In this era of post-post fifth wave feminism…. blah blah blah......
LOL, this is definitely not that kind of article, we assure you.
Instead, we are here to offer some new vocabulary;
*clears throat* equality, kindness, open-mindedness.
It’s true, the stigma around the word ‘feminism’ is slowly but surely crumbling down but, the history of the word is so complex, so multifaceted and often unclear, that it can make it difficult for girls and women to identify with it. The word perhaps came into use thanks to the suffragettes, and works its way to the present day, and the future, stopping off at the liberalism of the 70’s, Margaret Thatcher and the Chanel s/s 15’ show, which left everyone thoroughly confused. (How can an army of perfectly sculpted humans, wearing clothes that cost thousands of pounds that were designed by a roboman be a feminist stance?). One can argue that anything, literally anything, is feminist or antifeminist. And so they should as it is a massively complex issue and sadly it is something that every human has to deal with on a daily basis.
So, let’s take a moment to break it down.
You do not need to be an academic to understand gender issues, nor do you have to scream-and-shout about being a feminist to believe in equality. When I was 18, if you would have asked me if I were a feminist I would have categorically said no. In my mind feminism meant man-hating and becoming entirely non-conformist. For too long people have perceived feminism as angry, semi-masculine women being violently extreme in their feminity. In reality, there are very few of those women in existence. Another misconception is that our cushy, developed country no longer has any gender issues. As I have grown up I have educated myself and opened my mind to different possibilities, it has become so blatantly obvious that everything I once believed to be true was so wrong.
In some ways it was an upsetting realisation when I opened my eyes and really saw the oppression that women face every day because, once I noticed it, I noticed it everywhere and all the time. It can be something as flippant as a dodgy message on Tinder or as mind-bendingly unfair as (un)equal pay. The challenges that females face are relentless and it starts from such a young age. Pretty much every girl has been told that when a snotty little boy hits you round the head with a ruler it means he fancies you. That’s so messed up, that’s essentially teaching young girls that if a male is cruel or violent towards you it means he is sexually interested… Not sure that’s a great messaging to be throwing out there. Girls are systematically taught that their value is held in their looks and desirability instead of their beautiful minds. And because of this industries with a gender gap include but are not exclusive to; technology, construction, science, manufacturing, architecture, engineering, management. And when I say ‘gender gap’ I mean that at the most in any of the aforementioned industries women make up to 23% of the work force. We comprise 50.89% of the population (UK Census, 2011) it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the glaring disparity.
With a subject so complex and far-reaching, people are often left wondering what they can do. Well, in my opinion, it’s quite simple really. The best and most effective way to change things is simply to have an open dialogue about it. It is for us to speak openly and unashamedly about women’s issues. How great would it be if we could take a tampon to the toilet without feeling humiliated? Or have a couple of visible hairs under your pits without a to fear of receiving a funny look? We have been systematically taught to be ashamed of things that our bodies naturally do and that we’re vulgar and “unlady-like” if we do have the guts to mention them. It’s a big task to unlearn everything that we have been told over and over and to teach ourselves how to fully accept and embrace who we are. But it is possible. And it is necessary. Through these simple, open conversations not only can it make a better environment for women, but it will immediately create a better world for everyone to exist. We need to stop judging ourselves and in turn we will stop judging others.
Rather than standing under the raincoat of feminism, why don’t we all stand under the huge umbrella of equality. Where women are not damned because they were born with the wrong anatomy, minority races are not damned because their skin is the wrong shade and non-heterosexual people aren’t damned because their desires differ from the “norm”. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world where everyone was born with equal opportunity, we came fresh out the womb and could carefully stitch together our own lives, knowing that we are no more or less than anyone else in the world.