Funnily enough, I used to think feminism was pointless. I used to think that women had all the rights we ‘deserved’ in the 21st century – we’re allowed to vote, what more could we ask for? Nowadays, my thoughts are completely different.
Pre-feminism, I used to be so proud of the fact I ‘wasn’t like any other girls’, as cringe as that sounds. I never wore pink as it was ‘too girly’ and I was the ‘cool tomboy’ that didn’t fit the feminine stereotype. I would let myself get bossed around by men constantly, and never second guessed when a man told me I was ‘wrong’ about something. I would often judge other women for being ‘too promiscuous’ when wearing certain clothes. I would judge women for flirting too much with boys. I would judge women for ANYTHING – despite being a woman. Why? I guess I wanted to be on the ‘men’s side’. I wanted to impress boys, and that’s the embarrassing truth of it. Believe it or not, I imagine most of my female readers can relate to some extent (even if some don’t like to admit it).
So, why did I act this way? I’ll tell you why – society taught me to turn against my own gender. Society taught me that girls are meant to be submissive to men and try to impress them at any chance we could get. I grew up in a society where feminism was rarely spoken about and patriarchal ideologies surrounded me. Sadly, it still is this way. Thankfully, I’ve learnt that these ideologies are bullshit.
I became a feminist because I realised I don’t want to be bossed around by men. I realised women are strong, not weak. I no longer wanted to be ashamed to dress ‘girly’; I wanted to wear pink clothing and big hoop earrings and red lipstick. I also wanted to continue wearing my skinny jeans and plain tshirts, with no makeup and my hair shoved up in a messy bun. I wanted to apologetically be a woman. So, that’s what I did – I became a feminist.
Feminism doesn’t mean anti-men. Feminism doesn’t mean anti-housewife. Feminism doesn’t mean anti-submissive. Feminism means allowing yourself to become whatever kind of woman you want – whether that’s a badass businesswoman, a housewife who proudly stays at home whilst your husband goes to work, wearing makeup or not wearing makeup, wearing pink or wearing black. As long as you are comfortable in your own skin, who has the right to tell you how to act/look? Patriarchy does not rule women – we rule ourselves.
Feminism means not always thinking of ourselves. Being a middle-class white woman, I acknowledge there are women in much, much worse positions than me. Feminism, to me, is about fighting for the women all across the world who are still powerfully ruled by the patriarchy. Women/girls who are being forced into marriage, women who are being told what to wear, women who aren’t allowed to have a career, women who are told what to do by men… Women who are being put through hell simply for being a woman. My feminism isn’t just about middle-class white women, it’s about every single woman across the world who deserves a voice. My feminism is intersectional. .
So, next time you say we ‘don’t need feminism anymore’ because women have the right to vote and we have had a female prime minister, remember the United Kingdom isn’t the only country where feminism is needed. Middle-class women aren’t the only women suffering at the hands of the patriarchy.
Some of you may not feel oppressed, so use your privilege to help other women across the world who are being oppressed by the patriarchy. Let’s help other women who haven’t yet found their voice. Let’s help other women unleash their strength. Let’s help other women be who they want to be.
Let’s help other women become unapologetic about being a woman.