Feminist- a person who stands for the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. This simple word, made to cater for women who wanted to be seen as equals instead of the weaker sex, is now a word that has caused so much controversy in the world we live in.
The multiple faces of women we see above (picture), are faces of women who have achieved great things in their lifetimes, things that should only have been accomplished by men and for some, things that were triggered by treatment from men in their lives. It must hurt for those hardworking feminists that are still alive today to see their hard work and hard earned title be used immorally and not for the purpose it was put in place for. The dead must be kicking and screaming in their graves to drown out the voices of the women who degrade this title.
I do not mean to offend but rather to take a stand in the one way I can to bring the title of FEMINIST to its former glory. To be a feminist is not to have double standards, expecting free drinks in a restaurant from a male waiter whilst fighting for equal opportunities in the work place. Feminism isn’t a march for the right to walk naked in the streets because “don’t body-police or slut-shame”. As a feminist, you buy your own drinks because you can buy your own drinks and actually prove that you deserve that job you are fighting for. As a feminist you see the logic behind marching with signs instead of a naked demonstration.
For so long, women have taken to calling themselves feminists with no idea what it actually means. Even now, I know of “feminists” who proclaim, by day, that they don’t need men to survive and are constantly with the #men-are-trash mojo, but whose lives are spent in the cars of ‘blessers’, apart from the many multi-purpose boyfriends. We have become a contradiction to ourselves, saying one thing but practicing another and honestly, how do we expect to be taken seriously by the rest of society when we can’t even practice what we preach?
To be a feminist is to want equality between sexes. Equal rights, equal opportunity and not only when it is beneficial. It is accepting that sometimes a man will not open doors for you and not caring because you can do it for yourself. It is working as hard as a man and not complaining or seeing yourself as better than them. To be equal is having the same importance and value as someone else and deserving the same treatment. In that regard, we should expect nothing less than what we ask for, if he wants to pay the bill that’s fine and if he won’t, don’t now shift your opinion because things are not in your favour. It is not asking for a lower pass rate than the man because you are female or shaming that man on the bus because he wouldn’t give you his seat, carry your bag, take your jacket. None of that.
Dale Spender said “Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, and practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions, for safety in the streets, for child care, for social welfare, for rape crisis centres, women’s refuges, reforms in the law. If someone says, ‘oh, I’m not a feminist’, I ask, ‘why? What’s your problem?’”
Feminism is being a mother at home, being a wife, being a C.E.O and deserving that position. It is responsibility and common sense. Feminism is duty, standing up for others and yourself. It is taking all that criticism and turning it into success, going head-first into that position they said you couldn’t get into. It is celebrating the success of others, yes, men included and supporting their rights as well. Coupled with being a woman (because men too can be feminists), feminism is having strength and weakness and embracing it all to be a part of who you are.
In this month when we celebrate what it means to be a woman, may we look deeply within ourselves and find the feminist in us. As we fight for our rightful place in the world and more women in positions of power, may we find strength to fight the hypocrisy and the double standards that are at work in our society so as to bring back the dignity that comes with being a woman and take down the bad name. Let us proudly say “I am woman and I am a feminist!”
Happy Women’s Month!