The term feminism has stirred great controversy. It has been associated with man-hating. This is a completely false and a preposterous assumption. Feminism is a fight for gender equality. It is about social, economic, and political equality. It is when a woman or man see injustice and stand up against it. Why must it always be associated with terms such as anti-man or aggressive? Why must a woman be submissive in all aspects of her life? She deserves to speak. She deserves to be paid equally. And she deserves a say in the world.
Women are so powerful, and could make amazing changes in the world. With gender stereotypes, it seems as though women find themselves in a deadlock, unable to voice their opinions to not come off as too “aggressive”. I spoke to a few friends the other day about my early life. I spoke about how I played hockey for a while when I was about eight years old. Their reaction? Shock, wonder, and curiosity. The way they were startled spoke to me emotionally. Why should it be so shocking that a female played a sport commonly associated with men. The gear seems too manly? Who says a woman cannot take on that role? The constant assumption that men are muscle and women are slim and slender needs to end. A woman can be built. This does not make her a man. It makes her confident, ambitious, and beautiful in every way.
These gender based assumptions spread to the women who speak on the topic of feminism. Some assume that women seem extremely controlling when speaking about gender equality, as if it was not their place to take on such a topic, or to profess such powerful words. Some men and women assume feminists only exist to degrade men. Forget this. Forget all the negative and completely incorrect things you’ve heard on feminism and focus on the facts. This is not only a stand for women, but for men too.
Feminism has also become a negatively associated word as it is made to seem vile by men and women. This causes people to refuse to identify themselves as feminists. It’s as if the term bears evil or extremity within it. It apparently makes some feel “uncomfortable”, due to society. If we cannot show the world that this word is welcoming and most definitely not aggressive, how can we begin to rally more support. It is the word that creates a halt in our progress towards equality, and towards influencing the world. It is not a mere term used for “man-hating”, it is a movement that can only be stirred if we forget the stereotypes and the misconceptions. Don’t hate the word. Focus on the concept and the ambition behind it. Focus on changing the world.
I understand that my real life experiences with issues regarding feminism are definitely not as severe as other women. I am privileged to live the way I do, and I thank God for it everyday. But what about the other women? The ones who do not get paid nearly as much as the men do. The ones who have no say in their community, no rights to voting. The ones who are constantly told “no” simply because they identify as female.
I cannot say I know of a single country in the world where gender equality exists completely. I can say there has been progress, much better than in the past if we may all agree. However, we can do so much better. I was influenced by some good friends to rise as a feminist. I realized one day that this was what I wanted to do. One day I would want to speak to the UN, much like women’s rights activists such as Emma Watson were so lucky to do. By supporting feminism, you become a force of change. A force so important you won’t even realize the impact you have on the world.
Gender stereotypes exist for both men and women. Men can be insecure due to the lines set for them to be “a man”. Therefore, men should feel welcome to take on the role of feminists. Join us, it is your issue too. If you don’t feel comfortable yet to call yourself a feminist, start off by saying you completely support feminism. The word may seem awkward or strange for men to regard themselves as, I can understand that. But this is one of the issues. Some men are afraid to look like less of a man. They have bars set for them as well. If they begin to let this bar drop, progress will occur for both men and women. It is okay for a man to feel sensitive. It is okay for a man to not be all muscle. It is okay for a man to step outside of the status quo.
If we continue to do nothing, the situation grows worse. We all feel something about gender equality. It’s a feeling we tend to never outwardly show, but we sense the injustice. Fight for equal pay. Fight for control over our bodies. Fight for equal respect. Step forward.
“If not me, who?..If not now, when?”-Emma Watson.
This is the Malala fund. I made my own fundraiser because I had no idea this was possible to do and had to do it immediately because I believe in making change. Donating is a step in the right direction. If you don’t have the means to, no problem. Start your own fundraiser, or simply support on social media with the hashtags #HeforShe , #MalalaFund, #WomensRights, etc.