Feminism has become something of a dirty word in popular culture today. When someone mentions the word feminism people usually react in two ways - they'll either roll their eyes and sigh because they hate the word, or the connotations of the word, or people who call themselves feminists. The other type of person will perk up and seem passionate about the word, the connotations of the word and intent on breaking down the stereotype of feminists in today's society. For me it's always been important that I try my hardest to convince the women and men in my life that they're all feminists because EVERYONE should want equal gender rights, and if you believe that feminism is anything other than wanting equality then you're mistaken.
My problem at the moment is with women who refuse to call themselves feminists; I find myself baffled by the idea that you would dismiss a movement that promotes equality for a gender that you belong to. It makes me sad to think that so many men and women world wide don't truly understand how simple this ideology really is at its core. Of course you have extreme feminists who quite literally despise men, just like there are extremist Muslims, Christians, Republicans, Socialists... the list goes on. We have a habit in our society of taking the most extreme and negative aspect of a religion or ideology and claiming that these views are representative of the whole movement. This is most commonly know to happen through fear and ignorance, but how can you dismiss something before you truly understand it?
For me, one of the most important parts of being a feminist is not just to strive to reclaim gender rights for women, but to praise the women around me for all of the amazing things they've already done within our male dominated society. I often struggle to explain how I personally am affected by the patriarchal society in which we live, and the answer is - I'm not. This is because I'm privileged, not only as a western woman but as a white western woman. I am fully aware of how lucky I am to be a young girl living in Britain who has the world at her finger tips, but I am also fully aware that millions of women are not so lucky. I haven't been brought up by an abusive father who forced me into marriage, I have a father who has adored me every day of his life for the last twenty one years and taught me that I am an equal to the men around me, that I can do anything I want. I've never been denied a job or position at university because I'm a woman, my boyfriend respects me more than I respect myself sometimes. This I feel is an argument that is puts forward by so many western women to explain why they aren't feminists, because their own struggle is non existent, but I cannot for the life of me understand how these women can't call themselves a feminist for all of the women around the world who ARE struggling.
Every day on social media sites we see people share pictures of facts and figures about how many women a year are raped at the hands of a partner or how many young women in Africa suffer genital mutilation etc, and every day we see even more skeptics commenting "these figures aren't accurate, so this mustn't be true". We need to ask ourselves why is it that we nit pick over small details like how many women are "really" raped, rather than focusing on the bigger picture - the rape itself? Sometimes I feel like society denies these facts to themselves in order to make themselves feel better about the reality of what's happening outside of our computer screens. We need to educate ourselves and become aware of just how lucky we are to be able to sit and discuss these issues, because what seems like an interesting Facebook argument to us is actually the reality of so many women's lives.
I don't want to go off on one because that's really not the intention of these posts, I just hope I've opened up a good topic for debate and started off on the right track to posting more about women's issues on this blog. If you're reading this and scoffing at the screen, I'm not asking for you to change your mind, all I'm asking is that you open it. To the women who are reading this - just because you have a voice doesn't mean every woman does. Use yours for the right reasons and fight for all the women world wide who are dying to be heard.
All the best words are dirty words anyway.