I am a feminist. Feminism to me, is the promotion of Gender Equality, where women and men are accepted as equals politically, economically, socially and intellectually.
The struggle for Gender Equality is not entirely new in Western society. It has been an on going movement for just over 100 years, and waves of feminism have been coming to and fro over the last 50. There have been three waves – briefly covered by this article at Progressive Women’s Leadership – and the wave we are currently going through is facing a whole lot of backlash and obstruction in a surprisingly similar fashion to its predecessors (I’ll speak about this more next week).
But gender equality doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it take one person. It takes a whole generation, and it takes time. With that comes acceptance, normalcy, and eventually it all gets taken for granted.
I have recognised and openly admitted that I am a feminist for a few years now. So why now? As I have already established in this blog, as a lot of people probably do, I’ve simply been surfing through my life by making excuses. “I don’t know how to help” or, “I don’t have the time” or, “What change can I do?”. I knew this wasn’t right, and yet everyday I was growing more and more fed up with the negativity and ignorance surrounding feminism and women’s rights in my own culture, let alone in others.
One of the biggest arguments against feminism in white culture that I have heard, often backed up with media-led fear mongering, is that ‘others have it worse’. The sentiment, while generalised, is true in the sense of how far ‘white’ culture has evolved and progressed, but I can give two reasons why this is a terrible argument:
- Valuing the dignity and lives of one culture of women over another is a form of discrimination in itself. It’s using the ‘white guilt’ as a way of tactical concession whilst devaluing victims in western society where victim shaming, family violence and everyday sexism still exist. This is not acceptable.
- In my experience, the very same people who are quick to point out the imbalance of gender equality between nations are those who don’t value it at all. Most feminists I know recognise the imbalances, but aren’t willing to settle for ‘good enough’, simply because one culture has made more significant progress.
But why exactly do I value feminism and women’s rights when, considering my culture, education, family and background, I am well-off? I will tell you why:
Because if I don’t raise my voice, who will speak for those who don’t have one? If I don’t take a stand, who will stand with the women over the last century who fought for the liberties I have today? If I don’t fight, who will battle against those who still hold women back – whether they be extremists, fundamentalist religions, rapists and violators, human rights offenders, or even ordinary folk with obsolete mindsets?
Regardless of what I benefit from this case, I WANT to see a world where sexism is a thing of the past. Like racism. Like homophobia. I WANT to be a part of a culture free from derogatory labelling, shaming and remarking. I WANT to help continue on the efforts of Emmeline Pankhurst and Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem and Maya Angelou and Malala Yousafzai. I WANT to get off the couch and join the modern movements, such as #LeanWithMe, #YesAllGirls, #HeForShe, #WhatIReallyReallyWant #GlobalGoals, and #Planet5050. And most importantly, I WANT to avoid the cliches of western activism and look at the issues with enlightenment, and get involved for the sake of others and for the education. You could shake your head and mutter ‘what is this world coming to?’, or ‘why do they complain?’ or, you could find a cause you believe in and realise there are many opportunities out there to help.
There are seven days in the week, and someday is not one of them!