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Friday, 8 April 2016

We Need To Talk About Feminism

I've often shied away from talking about feminism. If you asked me I would tell you that I am, of course, a feminist. I say 'of course' because to me it seems obvious that if you are in any way a decent human being then you will be for equal rights, for both women and men. Nonetheless, I've never felt like any sort of authority on the subject and so didn't feel it was worth me putting my two cents in. Having said that, two things have recently made me realise that absolutely anyone can be an authority on feminism.

The first was watching an interview with Caitlin Moran (who is such an inspiration, everyone should go and read How To Be A Woman) in which she talks about how at first she didn't think she was any authority to talk about politics but then realised politics affects everyone and so everyone should be able to talk about it. This applies to feminism too. I challenge you to find any human on this planet who has not been affected by feminism, even if they are not aware that they have been. The idea that women should be stay at home mums or get unequal pay compared with men doing the same job because they may in the future take maternity leave is an issue of feminism as it's inequality between the sexes. In exactly the same way, the view or societal expectation that men don't cry and should be the prime earners in a family unit is an issue of feminism because again it's an example of inequality between the sexes. With this in mind, I really don't think you could find someone who has not been impacted by feminism or, for that matter, a lack of it.

The second thing was when I was having a conversation with one of my very close friends about a week ago. The conversation wasn't even about feminism, at least not at first. We were just talking about boys and whether we feel comfortable with texting a boy first, which neither of us happen to. One of her friends had told her that, in her opinion, to feel uneasy about texting a boy first is to succumb to the patriarchy and idea that women are men's property and should only speak when spoken to, etc. For me, this is complete nonsense and it highlighted why feminism is seemingly such a taboo topic; there are so many misconceptions of what it truly is.

The point of feminism isn't man-hating or the belief that all women should do the complete opposite of what has been expected of them in history. It's the belief that they should have complete freedom to do what they want and act how they want (within reason obviously). And the same goes for men. Just because society has traditionally dictated that a woman should be courted by a man and never make the first move, it doesn't therefore mean that, now we're increasingly fighting for equal rights, women must make the first move and want to do so. To me, it means that women should know they are absolutely within their rights to do so but that if you don't want to or it doesn't sit right with you, you don't have to. The point is freedom of choice, regardless of what society has expected of us.

I'm all for women making the first move if that's what they want to do, but, for me personally, I don't often feel comfortable doing that. And that doesn't mean I'm not a feminist. It means that I know I completely have the right to do this but I choose not to. It saddens me to see women and men shaming each other for making choices that are in line with what has been traditionally expected of women. In my view, that's not the definition of feminism at all and it sends the wrong message to people trying to escape societal expectations.

These things have made me realise how important it is that we talk about feminism so that we can understand what it means in practice, without the misconceptions. This has just been some food for thought really, but I'd love to hear what you think. Do you think you can be a feminist and choose to have a preference towards some things that have typically been expected of the sexes as I do? Or do you think we should all be challenging those stereotypes?

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