As you read this blog, I must warn that you will find, honest thoughts, ambitions, and hopes from my mind.
I’ve always been one to say what I think – I’m not afraid to speak my mind and have an opinion. But if you read my blog, you’ll know I tend to shy away from the stronger issues that are present within society. That is because I’ve always wanted to please and appeal to as many readers as I can, to build up a network of followers who enjoy what I’m writing and don’t find any tension in the content I produce. When I started writing here aged 16, that was my main goal – to get my writing out there, and tackling easy topics through funny opinion pieces seemed the best way to do that without scaring anyone away. Then, as I grew up, I found I had less to say centred around that genres. Maturing and leaving home made me become more aware of the pressures and challenges that members of society face daily. I felt like my blog entries were no longer representative of what I thought on a daily basis, and I tired of the casual chit chat air of what I was writing about. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy writing like that, but I wished I could write stronger pieces that had more importance and impact, similar to the ones I enjoyed reading.
What was holding me back from writing pieces like that? Well, initially it was a lack of knowledge about these topics. Growing up in a boarding school, I was fairly sheltered from issues that other teens and adults had become aware of and affected by. I felt I hadn’t had the direct contact with aspects of society that others had, and so wasn’t in the position to voice my thoughts about it. But that wasn’t just it.
Fear. Fear held me back. The fear of offending people; of creating an environment where people questioned my content and opinions. How heated up could people really get when all I wrote about was my adoration for literature like Harry Potter? I didn’t feel prepared for the hostility that writers face when putting their thoughts about tough topics out there.
But enough is enough. I am concerned about aspects of society that are difficult to discuss, that often cause dispute and open up an arena for disagreement and strong opinion. I am concerned about the oppression of individuals – whether I am directly affected about them or not. Our society is full of issues that require attention, and even if one person who is not the most knowledgeable about them force those issues to the forefront so people discuss them, then that is better than sitting back and refusing to address them. I do not claim to be an activist or influential person in these areas – I am just a concerned individual who recognises change is needed. Nor do I want people to think I am prioritising issues as more important than others – we just need to address the areas of our society that are so damaging and in need of proactive attention. So I will just address issues in my own order and hope it makes you think. If you disagree with what I say, that is fine with me – but at least you’re forming an opinion. Today, I’ll address an issue that personally affects me – the oppression of women.
Feminism. Apparently, a very dirty word. Declare yourself a feminist, and you’ll make a few people cringe and shy away. ‘Feminazi’ is a reoccurring term, describing women who hate men and want to force themselves to be seen as more important than the other gender. Braless and brash and full of self-assurance. WHERE HAS THIS STEREOTYPE COME FROM?! Feminism, in a nutshell, is equality. It’s the fight for equality between genders, and is needed when you look back on history’s treatment of women. We are fighting to not be dismissed as a mere cook, maid or babymaker any longer. It isn’t that we’ve suddenly decided to become opinionated ladies – we have just had enough of being treated as less of a person because of what we have between our legs. Emmeline Pankhurst refused to be regarded as that when she founded the Women’s Social and Political Union. She said: ‘They have decided that it is entirely right and proper for men to fight for their liberties and their rights, but that it is not right and proper for women to fight for theirs.’ Thanks to her standing up, we now have the right to vote. Pankhurst was a true feminist – a woman who wanted a voice in what happened to her country, and rightfully so. She didn’t ask to be treated better than men – she asked for equality. And that is the true essence of feminism.
Entering 2016, it is clear that women’s rights are being addressed. We are increasingly accepted into professions that women used to have no place in. But just because we are treated better now than we were then, it does not mean our fight has lost any importance. There are still so many areas where we are not being treated as equal – the pay gap being one. We should not stop our fight just because some areas have been addressed. That’s like ordering a three course meal and being satisfied by just being handed the starter. Because that is exactly it – we’ve only just started. We must strive for true equality, and not be satisfied until we are treated as equals.
Every group has an extremist area. Religion is plagued with them, and as a result stereotypes are built – Muslims are commonly associated with terrorism, Christians regarded as ‘bible bashers’. Yes, some ‘feminists’ out there have declared to be more important than men, and unfortunately the most controversial acts within a group are the ones that receive the most attention. But you are a fool to disregard a group based on what a small fraction of it has done or said. Do not buy into the stereotype. Look into the heart and soul of a group and find its true meaning before you condemn it. You would not dismiss an entire genre of music because of what one band has done that you did not agree with – you just wouldn’t listen to them anymore. It is really that simple.
To say you are against feminism is a real statement of you accepting inequality. It doesn’t make you a ‘real man’ to proclaim you are satisfied with the injustice women face daily – to say that you are happy that your mother, girlfriend, colleague, daughter are treated as less important than you. And to insist you don’t agree with feminism as a woman, you are literally accepting that you are not as important as the men in your life. Your boyfriend, your school bully, the man catcalling you down the street – you have welcomed men to treat you as a lesser being. If that is all you think you are, then I pity you.
I’ll leave you with one of the saddest lines I have ever read in literature, taken from The Great Gatsby, where Daisy expresses her wishes for her daughter – “I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” She knew that at the time women were not equal to men, and she hoped her daughter would be blind to the fact that the only reason people appeared to listen to her was because of her looks, not because they cared for what she said. Is that what you really want for women? To be respected for having a pretty face? Or to be respected for what she has to say? Think about it.
Unapologetically a feminist.