Caution: contains some language as reference/quotes.
In society, females are born into a world that will constantly put pressure on them throughout their lifetime. Pressure to be beautiful, pressure to be sexy. Pressure to bear children, pressure to be emotional and maternal. Pressure to keep a good home, pressure to look after the men that surround them.
Equally, males are born with the expectation they will be “men”. Pressure to be dominant, successful, strong, independent, high-earning, emotionally-absent figures of authority.
When we try to challenge these gender roles that been involuntarily assigned to us, the people around us seem to think we’re crazy, weird or just “different”.
I am a feminist because I would prefer to live in a world where every human being, regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation, can become whatever person they damn well want to be. Without being questioned or disliked for it.
Both men and women are raped in this destructive world. But what is rape? It seems that through the media we are exposed to, the lines have become very blurred as to what rape or sexual assault is.
We are programmed to think that we are not actually being sexually assaulted at all if we’re not actually being raped. In fact, women in today’s world experience casual sexual harassment in their normal lives and don’t even question it, because it has become so normal to us.
All you have to do is watch some modern music videos from big artists to see some casual sexual harassment and objectification. The R’n’B genre particularly features dominant male leads singing about “hoes” and “bitches” and “fucking them”. We’ve become so numb to it that we don’t even question it anymore.
But the music video that particularly comes to mind of course is “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. I have never seen such blatant sexual objectification in mainstream music. In a nutshell, the lyrics and music video describe men chasing women to have sex with regardless of whether they have consent or not. “I know you want it” is repeatedly played throughout the pop song; a common opinion held in society, which ultimately contributes to rape culture like nothing else.
Any sexual activity between two parties must be consensual. This does not just refer to vaginal sex. This refers to any sexual contact. Otherwise, it’s sexual assault.
Mainstream media such as this is a big reason as to why I’m a feminist. I would love to see women being represented as equals in the media (men do not have to be dehumanized in the process to make this happen.)
3. Men and women in business
“European Commission statistics show that Irish women earn, on average, 14.4 per cent less than men.”
“In 2009, men in Ireland had an average income of €34,317 while the average for women was €25,103, or 73.1 per cent of men’s income.”
In the United States: “Today, women earn about 81 cents on the dollar compared to men — a gap that results in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost wages. For African-American women and Latinas, the pay gap is even greater.”
These statistics are worrying. Some will turn around and say that it is “the fault of women”, that “no-one is stopping them from progressing in their field”. But this is simply not the case.
It is a direct product of our upbringing and our society that women do not make the same numbers professionally as men do.
As women, we are taught to only have a certain amount of ambition. We are taught to be modest, silent. Men are taught that they should be as successful as they possibly can be, without feeling guilt or pressure in their personal/family lives. Women, on the other hand, are indirectly taught that their ultimate focus should be their family; that their career should always come second.
I am a feminist because I would like to see both women and men equally reaching the top of their profession in the modern world. Women aren’t making it to the top post in any field. I can’t just step back and accept that as being normal.
A world where both men and women are equally represented would be a better world.
Why am I a feminist? These reasons, and many more. I encounter casual sexism on a daily basis. Often, not towards me personally, but towards other women and indeed men. I see women being catcalled for just walking to and from class. I see men listen intently to other men but not to women. I see women being spoken to differently. I see other women treat other men like they’re messy, untidy etc without even knowing if they are or not.
I am about equality. I’m not a “feminazi” (whatever that term means.) I am a human being in a misogynist world.
I would like to be a feminist without having to put down men in the process. I do not hate men or disrespect them. But on the same token I do not hate or disrespect my fellow women; yet I still somehow see them being represented as inferior. Sexually inferior, professionally inferior, socially inferior.
I would like to live in a world where women could be taken seriously without being judged first and foremost by their appearance.
We should all be feminists, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would argue.