By Tabitha Bell
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a feminist – even before I understood what feminism was.
My values and ideals have always aligned with feminism. One of my earliest memories of my fight for equality was at a mere 5 years old and something I did warranted my parents to say:
“Don’t say/do that, it’s un-lady-like”
I don’t remember what actually happened – I just remember those words and how I argued back, insisting that I didn’t need or want to be ‘lady-like’. Girls and boys shouldn’t need to act differently to fit some strange and (seemingly pointless) stereotype of what gender should look like.
Feminism has enabled me to be exactly who I want to be and allowed me to express myself without judgement. There is no particular mould or structure that one has to fit into. I can be delicate and emotional but also be strong and powerful. Those things are not defined by my gender – that’s just me.
Feminism is not a dirty word
I’ve always been open about my views on feminism but I know many people almost see it as ‘dirty’ word or even a joke.
I wanted to see what the general public thought about it and if they knew what it actually meant to be a feminist.
So, I went out to find out what other people thought about feminism, who weren’t in my immediate circle of friends and family. Talking to members of the public, I got a mixed response, as expected, although I was surprised to find that both the men and women I spoke to agreed that feminism is an integral part of modern society.
Those with more negative views admitted that they didn’t fully understand what feminism was – they just had a preconceived stereotype of ‘crazy women fighting against men’. The respondents then asked me a question: ‘Are you a feminist?’ – it was clear that I had piqued their interest on the subject.
Feminism isn’t about going against men: it’s about being equal to them in all aspects of life. Our discussions seemed to change their minds completely, with some answering the final survey question with ‘it’s very important for both men and women to learn and understand what it is’.
This survey was proof of that – it allowed them make more accurate judgements about feminism and its role in society.
Innovative thinking leads to better understanding
Emma Watson is a current innovator in the feminist movement, inspiring millions of people to have a more accepting approach to feminism. She’s allowed men to be part of the conversation in a way that has never really been done before: demonstrating how the patriarchy suppresses both women and men in so many ways.
“I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s. I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them less “macho”. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.”– Emma Watson
Through her global platform she has opened up the conversation, creating a whole new channel of understanding and acceptance. Watson has updated the meaning of feminism, showing many that it truly is a global issue for both genders.
Creating equal opportunities
In a world rife with misconceptions and prejudice from every aspect of life be it: race, religion, sexuality or gender, we need to take stock. We need to look at ourselves and the people around us and ask
“What is actually important?”
Is it fitting in and conforming, or is it being happy and successful? At the end of the day, if what you want to do in life doesn’t negatively affect others, then who’s to tell you that you can’t be exactly who you want to be? And have as much chance to do so as anyone else?
Feminism is for everybody. So, let’s create a new world which allows everyone to have the same opportunities in life.