Today is International Women's Day, and I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to be feminine, proud to be flawed, proud to be educated, proud to be able to express myself freely. However, while the benefits of the Women's suffrage movement have been garnered by many, they are not enjoyed by all. Some Women are still not privy to an education. Some Women are still regarded as second-class citizens. Some Women are still victims of abuse and rape. Some Women are being trafficked and their bodies desecrated. Some Women are still forced to marry. And because some Women suffer, all Women suffer. Because some Women are degraded, all Women are victims of the same degradation. When one is over-sexualized, we all are. As women, we need to stop degrading each other, because it may make others think it is okay to degrade us. Instead, try your beat to uplift each other, correct each other, love each other. And when we all band together as one movement, together we can change the way society perceives us and mold our own destinies without the cap imposed on us by Male superiority. Together we can achieve true equality. Today being a day that supports the movement that recognizes women as human beings is an important day for all of us. Men should support this movement as they have mothers, daughters, sisters, wives. Even though they may think it doesn't affect them, it does. The world hurts when there is no equality. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche voices my views perfectly, she says "Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change. But I am also hopeful, because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to remake themselves for the better."
“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ― Gloria Steinem
It's quite clear that i'm a Feminist. I post about it often enough and debate on the radio long enough to be classified as one. However, i think that many people have misconceptions about what feminism actually is and who feminists really are. When people post on the Internet calling feminists crazy or unnecessary, i feel deeply hurt. I don't think that society truly realizes the importance of this empowering movement and how it's beneficial.
First off, being a feminist does not make you a man hater. This is just the same as saying that being white makes you racist or being Islamic makes you a terrorist. Generalizing a group based on the behaviour of a smaller set doesn't speak to the full picture. In every group there will be a radical few who take things out of proportion, but that should not define them. I identify myself as a feminist and i don't go around scorning men and nitpicking every thing that they do crying 'sexism'. That doesn't make anything better. Feminism is about seeking equality. It is about women having the ability to live as freely as men do without restriction and without scorn. Equality is the key word, and if you are seeking equality, you cannot promote hatred.
Secondly, feminist don't all look a certain way. When persons think of a feminist, their mind usually paints up a picture of a masculine woman who doesn't wear make-up and rants all the time. Quite frankly, if this was the face of feminism, it would not fully reflect the persons the movement represented. The housewife can be a feminist, the Muslim girl with a hi-jab can be a feminist, the Caribbean girl in her mass costume can be a feminist, the model on the runway can be a feminist, the video vixen can be a feminist, the sex-worker, the girl next door, even the boy around the corner. Weaved, Natural, Bare, or made-up... any man or woman can be a feminist. Not including these persons greatly limits what the movement stands for. Wearing make-up doesn't make you less of a supporter of equality than the next person... so why does this happen. EQUAL rights for women, that is what this movement is about, and all women from every spectrum should be able to identify with it.
Thirdly, feminism is not about female domination. Whoever told you that isn't a feminist. Female domination totally negates the purpose of the movement which is equality. It will not promote any positive change as it fosters injustice on the other end of the spectrum. The vox populi of many persons when they think of feminism is female dominance... this isn't the case. We're just looking for equal rights, opportunities, and representation. Female domination would not fix the problem... Feminism is about equality for both males and females, none with more socio-political and economic influence/dominance than the other. Both sexes being able to co-exists freely without friction, hate, and submission to the other.
Persons who state that feminism has not done any good need to re-evaluate everything. Women who aren't feminists should re-evaluate themselves. The fact that I can go to school and have the education to type this post is due to feminism. The fact that my friend can be a female-pastor is due to feminism. The fact that I can give my opinion without being killed is due to feminism. My ability to chose not to be married off at 14 is due to feminism. The fact that i have the ability to vote is due to feminism. The fact that i can work to provide for myself and have the money to buy my own make-up and not depend on a man is due to feminism. The fact that my brother thinks its okay to cry without feeling 'emasculated' is due to feminism. The fact that i can see both male and female nurses is due to feminism. So much progress has been brought about by this movement and it has the capacity to do so much more.
It's quite clear that i'm a feminist and if everyone was a feminist the world would be a slightly better place.
I am all about empowerment, and I'm all for equality. So when i stumbled upon Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche in the summer of 2013, I did more research into Feminism and what it really meant. Despite popular opinion, feminism is not a cult of women seeking vengeance against men and wanting to dominate them, however it is an ideal to strive for. It is the belief that both men and women can live in an equal society, free from demands ascribed to them based on gender. Feminism also preaches that we have no set expectations from males and females based on gender. Feminism does not say that one gender is more valued, but it preaches that both have just as much potential. In today's society, where survival is not based on physical advantage but on intellect, their is no need to preach of a superior gender. I now personally self identify as a Feminist because i believe in equality. I don't hate men, frankly i get along with them very well, i just believe that there should be a balance. I don't preach down on persons who disapprove of feminism, nor do i lean towards shrouding myself in masculinity to feel empowered. I wear lipstick, i like braids, i love fashion [as you can see], i read stereotypical romance novels, things that are deemed by society as decidedly non-feminist. Here is an excerpt from Chimamanda's speech which inspired my feminist stance . . .
On How Gender Roles Hurt Boys
"We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.
We teach boys to be afraid of fear, of weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves, because they have to be, in Nigerian-speak—a hard man.
In secondary school, a boy and a girl go out, both of them teenagers with meager pocket money. Yet the boy is expected to pay the bills, always, to prove his masculinity. (And we wonder why boys are more likely to steal money from their parents.)
What if both boys and girls were raised not to link masculinity and money? What if their attitude was not "the boy has to pay," but rather, "whoever has more should pay." Of course, because of their historical advantage, it is mostly men who will have more today. But if we start raising children differently, then in fifty years, in a hundred years, boys will no longer have the pressure of proving their masculinity by material means.
But by far the worst thing we do to males—by making them feel they have to be hard—is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.
And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males.
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.
We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him."
This is an excerpt from WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Copyright © 2012, 2014 by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.