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Are You A True Feminist?

Posted by Shubhra Mathur in Feminism
March 8, 2018

Before I say anything, I must elucidate feminism – at least, the veracious form of feminism. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” Feminism is NOT a standpoint that all men are evil, sexual perverts that deserve to die.

Contrary to popular belief, you can still be a stay-at-home mom and be a feminist. You can still cook for your husband, boyfriend, etc. and be a feminist. You can be pro-life and still be a feminist. Being a feminist means that you desire the same opportunities as a male. If you espouse to be a stay-at-home mom, that is your choice. It has nothing to do with feminism. If you are a stay-at-home mom because you can’t work due to having a child, that’s where feminism comes in. Feminism is knowing that the cooking and cleaning can be done by both genders, but refusing to do either because you are a female is incorrect. Where is the logic behind being feminist and refusing to do either? You are therefore propelling the man to cook and clean, which is exactly what you’re asserting feminism about in the first place. Feminism is striving for equality of the sexes, not demanding more rights for women.

Now that I’ve cleared the air, I can emphasis on the importance of being a true feminist woman.

Feminism is fighting for equal rights all over the world. In South Africa, the rate of women being raped is among the highest in the world. A true feminist would be spreading awareness for this, not nagging about doing dishes. Silence is not consent. Also, in most areas around the world, women are blamed and punished for being sexually assaulted. They are treated as if it is their fault. Maybe they showed too much skin or wore too much makeup. This is why, instead of a culture of shame and silence, there must be equality.

Being a feminist means not judging anyone based on their appearance. There are all sorts of magazines and websites that zoom in on the physical flaws of famous women. I saw one the other day with “Bodies After Babies” as a headline on the front cover. This magazine circled and brought attention to actresses who have stretch marks after having a baby. It was utterly disgusting to me that this was even a subject of concern. This example is not to say that this doesn’t happen to men. I’m sure it does. But women are objectified constantly. Sports Illustrated features a different “sexy” woman every month. Why? To please the readers. To grab people’s attention. So these women are praised for their appearance, while others are shamed for not looking the same way. As a feminist, it doesn’t bother me if women are on the front cover of a magazine. I care when other women are brought down for not looking the same.

My next point is a little less serious, but still extremely important, nonetheless. How good does a woman have to be before she is considered good? By this I mean, what’s the breaking point between “a good female athlete” and “a good athlete,” or “she is smart for a girl” and “she is intelligent”? Language matters. A few words make a big difference. The phrase “for a girl” insinuates that she isn’t as good as a man, but she is pretty good for a woman, which is to say that a woman can’t possibly be as talented as a man. Women can do anything men can do, but if they are systematically held back or told they couldn’t, it makes it more difficult. Women bodybuilders are shamed, saying they look too manly, as if to be muscular you must be manly.

Feminists of today should be focusing on self-love, equal responsibilities, gender equality, and empowering other women. They should preach that gender, sex, and sexuality do not determine humanity. Have a conversation over domination. Work on proving that they’re more than what they look like. Don’t let anything hold them back. Demand equal pay as men, prove that they can accomplish the same tasks. Don’t chastise themselves for looking a certain way.

Now, I have a few lines for the men too.

Dear Men,

I am a feminist, but that doesn’t make me blind to the unfairness you face; every day of your life. I’m a feminist, but all I want is equality and not control over you. I am a feminist, and I do not hate you. Because feminism is not about women getting treated better than men but to just receive with equal opportunities. I am a feminist, and I see how wonderful you are and how your intentions are so pure and your love so genuine as a father, brother, partner or even as a respectful stranger! I do not support humiliating you, disrespecting you or gaining control over you. Besides telling boys to ‘Respect Women,’ it’s also imperative to teach girls to stop being judgemental because “All men are not same.”

I would hate to live in a world where men would be regarded less of a parent or a child because of their gender by birth just as much as I myself hate living in a patriarchal cocoon.