Like most people, after watching the videos of the women’s march last year and then again earlier this year, with the #metoo and #timesup movement, gaining momentum and with it being 100 years since The Suffragettes got the vote for women; the topic of whether feminism is still valid or important in 2018 is quite clear. Whether it’s a trend or even a wave, the fact of the matter is, more and more people and women in particular are feeling more empowered to speak up, to share their stories and to let perpetrators know that enough is ENOUGH. Their days are definitely up. Here is why we believe we personally still need feminism now more than ever.
What Feminism Means To R1
I will openly and passionately confirm that I AM a feminist and I can’t be apologetic for it. I will always remember the moment a fire was lit inside me from an academic standpoint. I had taken my first Women’s Studies course and was excited and nervous about what it would entail. I’ll admit that I was worried it would be mainly “male bashing”, but imagine my surprise when it was the very opposite. I cannot remember the name of the course itself, but I was refreshed by the openness and thought provoking discussions shared in many of the classes; it opened up my eyes to viewpoints I may not have been aware of, but it also allowed me to see things from other’s viewpoints- without holding any aggression towards the person holding those opinions.
I Need Feminism …
For my daughter: As much as I would of said I was privy to many of the issues in the feminist world, it wasn’t until I had my daughter that I realise so many more subtle gender stereotypes we “imprint” on our children from infant-hood. Personally, I love the colour pink, not because it is what socially is associated with being female, but mainly because I like the colour, but once I got pregnant I was determined NOT to force a specific colour on my daughter and to NOT dress her in overly pink and frilly items. Not that there is anything wrong with frills and pink, I just wanted her to be able to DECIDE for herself. I quickly realised that the majority of girls clothing was all about being cute, and pretty and “palatable” as opposed to boys clothing, which was more about being adventurous, getting dirty and being brave. I need feminism because I believe that for me and especially for my daughter to know her worth, to know that she is important and valued- she is NOT lesser than because of her gender. She is just as smart, just as strong, just as capable as anyone else. I want her to know that her body is hers and hers alone, it’s for her to decide what to do with, it doesn’t belong to a governing body, lawmakers or her peers. This, is why I need feminism.
For myself: For some of the similar reasons as stated above for my daughter, I feel and believe the same for myself and should be the right for EVERY female on this planet. I need feminism for equality and accessibility. I need it for the moments when people victim blame, when people generalize, when we find out women are being paid fractions less than their male counterparts. When it comes to light that you didn’t get the promotion because you got pregnant, when your career progression is stunted due to the fact that you are a mother. I felt this stunting personally once I got pregnant, my evaluations were exemplary, I had the experience and the talent to be promoted, yet the moment I announced my pregnancy, I could actually feel the responsibility and career progression slow down. Four years after having my daughter and continuing to have exceptional reviews, I still never got the promotion promised to be prior to my pregnancy; whether it’s because naturally your priorities change when you become a mother, I don’t believe I should have been penalized essentially for having a uterus- because we fully know that as a male this wouldn’t have happened. These are the reasons why we still need feminism. When a female’s life is deemed less important than a males. We ALL need feminism.
For the voiceless: For the countless, nameless and faceless women who have been victimized through various forms of abuse, sexual assault, violence and rape. For the women and girls sold into sexual slavery, for the women and girls mutilated, for the girls sold as child brides, for the girls denied education. I need feminism for the thousands of trans women being attacked, beaten and murdered for simply being female. I need feminism so that we can ALL work towards removing the danger females face, for simply existing in the world as female.
For The Patriarchy: For as long as there is a patriarchy, we need feminism. As long as people aren’t viewed and treated on equal level terms, we need feminism. For as long as we use dismissive terms such as “lad talk”, “locker room banter”, as long as we justify a male pushing and teasing a counterpart because “maybe he likes you”, for as long as “wolf whistling” and “catcalls” are a thing. For as long as the way a woman dresses is blamed for her harassment. For as long as men are complacent when they witness their peers expressing sexist jokes, for the people who believe it was just a harmless “butt grab” or for anyone who asks why it took someone so long to come forward. For as long as we have men who firmly believe that females belong in certain places and do not in others, or for as long as people say that’s a man’s job and that’s a woman’s job…yea son- you best believe I need feminism.
For The Trailblazers: How can we sit back and enjoy the fruits of labour that countless women and men have worked tirelessly for us to have the freedoms we currently have? The many nameless women, who were threatened, ignored, denied; ones who break down barriers and shatter glass ceilings. I need feminism for the many revolutionary women who performed simple acts, unbeknownst to them that it would or could cause a ripple effect which caused a revolution. I owe a lot of my freedoms, my thoughts and voice to the women who came before me, the women who dared to be different, but also the women who stayed the course, simply kept at it. The ones who were the firsts in their fields, the ones who held the future of all other women on their work. For the women who are fighting for the rights and freedoms of fellow women. I need feminism for all the mothers, the ones who would like to be mothers, the adopted mothers and the other women who make up our communities. It is for these women, not only the names we know, but the ones in our own families, our mothers, our grandmothers and our future daughters, is why I need feminism.
What Feminism Means To R2
Feminism…I wish that I could give you a clear cut definition of what it means to me. But I cant. It has so many meanings. It means empowerment, not just because I’m a woman myself, but because of the impact that it leaves in its wake. It opens up opportunities that would never have come to fruition, if there weren’t women fighting for my rights; back in the 70s and 80s. Feminism to some, means the ability to marry another woman and not be frowned upon, to others it means sticking it to the man…whatever man that may be. For me, feminism allows me to walk the halls of my university and believe; I can do this, just like anyone else and I WILL because I have the fortunate opportunity to do so. I wish that I had all these wonderfully powerful words to “top-off” what R1 said…But she nailed it. We have so many reasons to encourage the ongoing fight of feminist rights and possibilities, because there are still those who try to hold us back from being on an equal footing to our male counterparts.
I Need Feminism Because…
It Opens Up a World of Possibilities: Imagine if the women before us, did not stand up for the right to vote or the right to work a Monday-Friday job? What would us women being doing right now? Sitting home, twirling our thumbs? We get to push the limits that are set before us within the work-force. We get to experience what it means to be a “working-mom” or simply, a working woman.
Creativity: I have always been a sucker for those classic Victorian style books. I remember reading about how so many female authors felt pressured to write under a pseudonym, for fear that their works would not get published, if their actual names were printed on the books, arts and so forth. I think about all those female writers whose works have been known throughout the ages and I think to myself, what if they had used their real names, could one of them have been a trailblazer? Could she have set the tone for the rest? I’m so happy that I get to happily print or sign my name on the front of whatever I draw or write, because it would not feel like my own, if I did not have this affordance.
Honesty: Being my true self. It’s not always easy to show the people around you, just who you are. For me, feminism allows me this affordance. I get to be honest, even when I may not feel strong enough to be, I at least have the tools and opportunity to do so. We get to speak, without fear of being silenced. Yes it may not always be simple and easy to express one’s opinion, but we have the freedom to do so, it’s just up to us to use it.
Feminism for the Future
R1 gave me the idea for this last one. I never really took the time to think about my future children and how Feminism would affect them. But it’s not a very complicated notion now that I think about it. I want both my sons and daughters to be be strong, independent people in this world, that they know how to treat their peers, especially the women in their lives. Not to single out one gender over another, but the recent events with women speaking out about their experiences with sexual assault, it brings tears to my eyes. I hope that the next generation will be knowledgeable and compassionate enough to respect others’ boundaries and knowing when to speak up. I will never forget this particular line within The Help,” you are kind, you are smart, you are important”. Both men and women need to know this, it makes us all stronger.
Our feminism isn’t exclusive, we are aware that the word feminism means different things to different people and that over the years, throughout the movement, there are numerous factions within it. We believe in equality for all- beyond race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion all that falls in between these labels. We accept that feminism is a much more complex issue than a catchy blog post- but trust us when we say, we are FEMINISTS.