Feminism is such a touchy word these days. It seems to have a negative connotation to a lot of people, which is saddening to me since in my eyes, feminism is something we should be enthusiastic about. So before I start sharing my views, I am going to redefine feminism in my own words (I thought that would be more original than copying what the dictionary said like many other blogs I've seen. This is me trying to be creative):
Feminism to me is wanting everyone to be on the same playing-field and have an equal shot at every opportunity life brings. I should add that this is not limited to just females or just males. (Maybe we should rename feminism as "genderism" or "everyone-ism." I'm just making up words now but Emma Watson, if you read this, what do you think?) Feminism is about wanting men and women to be able to do whatever their hearts desire without feeling a need to get approval from the society around them. It is not about hating men or burning bras. I have plenty of guy friends who I love just as much as my friends who girls, and I have never once burned a bra or had it cross my mind. In fact, all the of self-declared feminists I know are exactly like I am. Don't overgeneralize. Just because you burn one batch of cookies, doesn't mean all cookies are gross. I believe that a guy should be able to cry without being told to "toughen up" because gender has nothing to do with the feelings we have inside. I believe the phrase "like a girl" needs to be something to be proud of for girls instead of an insult since, after all, we are girls. I believe that working mom's and stay at home dad's should be celebrated since both genders are capable of bringing in money and taking care of their children. I believe the social norms that tell us that girls should like pink and boys, blue, should stop. I think a girl should be able to eat a whopping hamburger on the first date and boys dance till their feet hurt. I don't want my society to define what is and is not acceptable for me to do. Do you?
It is important to note that I am pretty lucky. I live in the United States of America, a country where many of the gender issues have dissolved. Just to name a few examples, I have the right to an education, the ability to vote, and can own as much property as my money will buy. We ladies have come a long way thanks to the women before us who had the guts to make a better lives for themselves, their daughters, AND their sons. Yes, boys, this all affects you too. I am very proud to say I am from a nation that has come this far, but there are so many not up to par with where I live, and frankly, the U.S. is no where close to being done with this equality battle.
To start, I'll open this scene up a bit. Have you heard of Malala Yousafzai? You most likely have since she has not stayed quiet about any of the hardships she has encountered, but just in case you just replied "no," Malala is my modern-day hero. As a now-eighteen-year-old from Pakastan, she was not born into a country as pro-girl as mine is. At fourteen, she had the courage I could only dream of having when she personally called out the Talaban for trying to take away her, and many other girls', education in a speech given to Peshawar and in her undercover blog following her speech. As you probably guessed, the Talaban was not super happy with her since her internet fan-base and opinion was quickly spreading, so they shot her in the head which traveled down to her neck on a bus-ride home from school in 2012. She was in a medically-induced coma until she arrived in England where she faced several surgeries and was found to have no major brain damage.
Now, I would like to think that in her shoes I would have done the same, but if my government was trying to kill me, I don't know if I would've continued on. But there was no stopping Malala. She kept up her education in England and is still speaking in as many places as she can for education and women's rights which completely blows my mind. She published a book, "I Am Malala," which I would love to read when I get the time, and carries on without any fear. But, moral of the story, this girl is about the same age as I am in the present day, and she is facing death threats from her country because she wants to learn. Have I made you a feminist yet?
Unfortunately, Pakastan is far from the last country that is facing a much harsher gender war than America did pre-1980. (Fun-fact: According to nwhm.org, "Women did not begin attending college in equal numbers to men until as recently as 1980," in the US). That is where everyone who has been rolling their eyes at feminists don't take into consideration. Just because we are blessed, does not mean we should stand back and watch everyone else suffer to achieve what we have.
Now I am not asking you to put your life at risk to help girls in other countries, but why don't we start by fixing the problems still left inside our boarders. Let's get rid of the stigma that girls are good at English and history, and boys are good at math and science. Can't we all just be good at different things instead of making it about playing a matching game with topics and genders? I don't think that's super hard. Why don't we close the wage gap and make our pays equal for the same work? You can make the argument that it is only a few cents here and there, but where do you draw a line between it being too much? If your teacher gave you a B on a test because they took off a few points and wouldn't give them back, but you really deserved an A, I know most of the people I am around would fight for every last point back. You deserved that A, girls deserve equal pay. (I did not mean for that to rhyme, but maybe I should take up rapping along with my writing).
I don't want my gender, which is completely out of my control, to hold me back from anything I want to do. I want to live my life to the absolute fullest, where I can be myself without worrying about crossing gender lines, and I would like that for my friends, family, and my someday kids if I am lucky enough to have them, as well. Life is much too short to let our society govern what we do. So gals, keep fighting like the wonderful ladies before us to stop getting the short end of the straw. Guys, don't let our world keep you in a "manly" box. By striving for a better world in just those small ways, we can all make a huge impact on the rest of the world that hasn't gotten to where we are yet. Because we all suffer when things aren't equal.
Thanks so much for reading! Share your thoughts in the comments below!