By Paulina Placek
“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.”
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that
Marriage is the most important
Now marriage can be a source of
Joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes”
–Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The solid and public idea of feminism has been around for at least three centuries now. While feminists around the world have differed in causes, goals, and intentions depending on time, culture, and country the general idea is that feminism is supposed to work to obtain women’s rights. The definition given by Oxford dictionary of feminism is: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality between the sexes”. Another source, Merriam Webster, describes feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”. Some may argue that the second statement is a little vague therefore, could potentially be misinterpreted. Some people say that women cannot be equally treated in those specific categories due to their biological makeup therefore cannot proceed the same type of jobs as men. Moreover there’s a clear predominance in male aircraft pilots, flight engineers, physicians or surgeons, which in fact are some of the world’s highest paid jobs. This is a fair point, that some people decide to make against the equality between genders in terms of payment. Even though an average man is generally larger than an average female, any female who focuses on working out to build strength can be equally strong to a typical male. Just because our physical makeup is different, it does not mean that neither men nor women are less competent or have lack of skills and abilities.
Another misconception that has recently become more popular is feminazis. Feminists are now being referred to as feminatzi, femiwhore and so many more. Part of society understands the idea of feminism as prioritizing female gender over male, as well as the concept of “women taking over the power from men and running the world”. Whether this idea rooted in misunderstanding the belief of feminism or simply anti-equality fans, this probably requires some clarification. Feminism does not prioritize ANY gender, in fact it exclusively reaches to the state of being equal, in status, rights, or opportunities. “Feminazi” is a strongly derogatory term used by people who believe that the feminist movement or a significant part of it is too radical or plain evil. This can be either because they are offended by what they think are feminist methods or ideas, or because they believe that feminists are out for female domination rather than gender equality. A feminist who hates men solely because they belong to the other gender is no feminist. Feminazis and feminists have different theories, feminazis display belief of one sex being superior over the other, while feminism reaches to an equilibrium, healthy equality between genders.
Another reason for being against feminism could point out people who are not touched by the issue of inequality on different basis. I recently saw a comment saying “I don’t need feminism because I am not a victim”, for which there was a reply, “I need feminism because even if I don’t need liberation another woman may, and I will fight for my fellow woman”. This one simple comment opened my eyes that it’s not only about me or us, but other people that are put in much worse case scenarios. People, not only women, that may be mistreated due to their gender. Just because I am able to learn, doesn’t mean that all of the young women have access to education or jobs. Many women are deprived of that basic human right. Their freedom is limited in speech or they are threatened in order to hide their views on the world around them. This is something we have to think about whenever we think that feminism is unimportant. It is more than just us that really matters.
Anyone can be a feminist. Just like you don’t have to be an animal to support animal rights, you don’t have to be a woman to support equal rights for women. Feminism is an idea that aims at providing equal opportunities to women and supporting it has nothing to do with your gender. Men can be feminists too, and you’d be surprised to know a lot of them already are. Nowadays people are afraid to admit that they are feminists, as the society criticises the idea mainly due to the reasons I mentioned before. You should never feel the pressure from people around you, that something you believe in is wrong. What you believe in is your personal choice and shouldn’t be influenced by what others will think of you or that specific belief. Don’t base your opinions of the world around you on what society considers acceptable.
I personally consider myself a feminist based on my own understanding of the concept of equality between the sexes. The idea of equality affects our lives daily, whether it’s at work, school, public places, social media platform etc. Therefore, I want to be reassured that just because I am a girl (or a boy in other cases) that doesn’t make me weaker or less powerful and doesn’t limit me in any way.