Feminism got a bad reputation at some point in time. I know that I’ve been guilty at scoffing at the idea, thinking it was just a bunch of women whining about being unfairly treated because they were women all because they never had the backbone to ask for more.
However, that was a few years ago and I think it takes a little growing up, a little becoming a woman, to really understand what feminism can do for you.
Since my scoffing days I have been doing a little reading. I’ve been reading books, articles, and blogs centred around feminism, trying to find out what it really is and if it pertains to me. It is safe to say that I have been humbled and had my viewpoint altered by what I read, realizing with every new fact how much I really need feminism in my life.
If you’ve been online a little bit recently (which you likely have since you’re currently reading this blog), you might have noticed some really great feminist articles and websites. There was this one on CBC’s website that completely changed how I listen to lyrics. Then there was this gem that perfectly tied sports, feminism, and humour to get the message across. If you haven’t seen this video of Dustin Hoffman explaining the importance of Tootsie, watch it now and find further understanding about women and beauty. And my always favourite people at Public Shaming posted this article about the winner of Wimbledon and the terrifying hatred spewed at her for being a “fat, ugly slut”.
There are tons of other sources out there – these are just a few of the recent ones that I’ve shared through Facebook and Twitter. You can also go further and easily find an article exemplifying the anti-feminist movement that seems to be resurfacing everywhere, like in this maddening one.
Why are these important? Why is it necessary to share these?
Because it involves everyone, that’s why.
It has to be understood across the board that feminism has to do with everyone, man or woman, no matter what your role. Don’t be that scoffing loser that I was a few years ago, read and understand how this effects everything you do. I never clued in until I started reading about it that the fact that I get paid the same as my male co-workers, that I have been noticed for my work ethic and promoted, that I am allowed to say “I don’t want children yet”, are all things that I owe to feminism. They are all things I owe to women who fought many, many years before I was born – women who weren’t allowed these things, ones who didn’t take them for granted.
And if you are a man, and you are a respectable one, you will also stand up in the fight for feminism. You will stand up for it because you want your wife to feel comfortable when she goes to work, you want your sister to be able to go back to work while her husband stays home with the kids if she wants, you want your friend to be able to, without shame, tell someone when she has been sexually assaulted. Oh, and also get immediate, responsible help.
I think it’s important for everyone to understand that women are often seen as flaky or crazy by what seem like neuroses – their need to find those exact shoes or to not ever, ever tell you that she is mad. Here is another great article about why this is just not the case. If you want to read a really great take on why women need those exact shoes or to have their makeup perfect or that they never ever have anything to wear, read Caitlin Moran. She tells it like it is.
Why do I need this resurgence in feminism, then? I need it because a man thought it appropriate to tell me the other day that “If you cut your hair to make yourself go from a really hot redhead to one that is just average so that men will stop chasing you, you succeeded.” I, interestingly, did not even read into it as an attempt at destroying my self-esteem – possibly because it didn’t. What I heard was someone assuming that I made the choice to cut my hair due to the desires of men, due to my need to apparently shoo them off in some way, and that every choice I make when it comes to my appearance has the ultimate goal of male attention.
What he didn’t seem to understand was that the choice to cut my hair was mine and the thought of what men would find attractive never was an option I weighed in the decision. But I see now that I need feminism because he probably doesn’t even realize that what he said was not remotely a joke but a blatant attempt to bring up some sort of self-conscious part of me that would succumb to a man’s desires about my appearance. Where is the equality in that?
Why else do I need feminism? Probably because a friend of mine found out that men who did not even know each other found out that they had both dated her and found it necessary to then tell other men who hardly knew her that she slept with everyone. I need feminism to make those men understand that kissing and telling, banging and bragging, and puffing out your chest in a show of ultimate sexual dominance in front of other males is not okay.
I need feminism because people still look at me in shock when I say I don’t want children until I am at least thirty, because I would rather have my own bakery than a nursery, because I think that paternity leave is one of the greatest things ever invented. I need feminism because if I am doing the same job as a man, and doing it with the same skill level, I deserve the same pay. If I am doing it better, I deserve to be paid more. I need feminism because I know too many women who are waiting to feel whole at the hands of a man, too many women who are taught that fairytales are the ultimate goal, too many women who are being shown every single day that if you were out at a party, got a little drunk, and found yourself with a stranger’s hand up your skirt, it’s your fault for mixing that sixth drink with that attire.
And you need feminism too, for all of these reasons and many of your own.