It is no secret that Feminism is surrounded by taboo. Men and women, young and old, are scared to proudly say ‘I am a feminist’ and this is something that needs to change.
So, why is calling yourself a feminist such an intimidating prospect? From personal experience, I felt as though I had to ‘come out’ as a feminist, and was worried about the response I would be met with. When talking about gender inequality people would often respond dismissively or defensively and it seemed virtually impossible to have a relaxed conversation about the issue. This response is embedded in our society more than we know, and we need to take action now.
Indeed, society taught me to believe that being a feminist was a negative thing, not the norm. In school, for example, when I was learning about human rights, and therefore women’s rights (yes it is that simple, “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights” — Clinton) my class would never engage in an interesting conversation about feminism today.
Once even a male teacher made the comment “oh for god’s sake, why would they burn their bras?”, consequently leading to an education that feminists are weird, aggressive and unnecessary. Students were scared they would seem overpowering and bossy if they discussed feminism, rather than what they were truly being which was interesting and intelligent. Students were scared they would be mocked for their opinions on feminism. They were scared of being a feminist because of the risk of humiliation. Likewise, in social situations, people sit back, withholding their personal expression for similar reasons. This is wrong; every girl and woman should feel comfortable, proud, relaxed and excited to talk about how they feel about their place in the world, how they are treated and how they want to change it.
As I begin to have more conversations about feminism and sexism, I am becoming increasingly aware of people’s misunderstanding of it. So here we go, let’s stop this derogatory treatment of the ‘F-word’. Feminism is believing that everybody should be treated equally regardless of their sex. If you believe in equality, sorry folks, you’re a feminist. It’s really not that complicated. Let’s start asking these questions, let’s get people talking and understanding.