It´s 2017 and here I am adding on to the continuously growing manifesto. Another one of the millions of fed up women who just want the one thing we should have earned the second we were born: equality. In the spirit of International Women´s Day, we are going to talk about the one word that seem to terrify and disgust people more than pineapple on pizza. We are going to talk about feminism. So what is it that transformed the perception of such an empowering movement into some kind of lesbian whining committee?
Feminism- a dirty word or an empowering statement?
The word feminism has somehow over the last decades been smeared with distaste and become synonym to hating men, free-the-nipple movements, ungratefulness and slut-shaming. I find it incredibly unfortunate that this is how feminism is perceived. I will even be bold and say that I believe many people do not even know what feminism really is before they so bluntly stamp it with their dismay. Therefore I thought I would clarify it for those of you still in doubt.
Feminism is, by definition, the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. It is not about being “against men” or “treating women as the victim”, nor is feminism “against women of colour”, and most importantly feminism is still very much necessary. I would claim that the fact that we have to argue the importance of gender equality and even having to define its movement, underlines this fact. So why is it that we are so scared of identifying with it, and how is it possible for young women to disown the label when it is fighting for them?
Reality personality and sociolite Kim Kardashian West raised eyebrows when she denied being a feminist at a blogger convention in August 2016.
Today many famous and successful women even distance themselves from the word, unwilling to stand forward and say: Yes, I am a feminist. Kim Kardashian West is one of them. She somehow did not dare to let herself be associated as a feminist, by saying that she was “not the free-the-nipple type girl” and that “no hate” was her thing. When did standing up for equal rights and opportunities become concentrated around hate? Somewhere we clearly went wrong. It is pretty clear that for Kim, the word echoes that of women refusing to wear bras and hating men, but when understanding what the word actually means, I find it ironic that Miss Kardashian does not identify with it. She who every day is faced with misogyny and whom has probably heard the sentence “She is only famous because of her sex tape” more times than I have successfully cooked salmon (I am pretty good at it by the way), should in every way be proud for the many things she has done over the last 9 years that are arguably feministic. Purveyor of the idea that women can have it all, sexual confidence despite slut-shamers and the fact that she has succeeded in a male-dominated industry…and I could go on… I would quickly mark her as one of the strong feminist characters of the modern age alongside Beyoncé, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler and Emma Watson. Why is it so scary for her, like it is to many other young girls, to label herself pro-women?
Author Roxanne Gay wrote in her book Bad Feminist: “I resisted feminism in my late teens and my twenties because I worried that feminism wouldn´t allow me to be the mess of a woman I know myself to be.” I myself could relate to the thought, because is it possible to be feminist while being so bluntly un-feministic? I, like many other young women my age, do and support many things that glorifies the degradation of women. I listened to Robert Thicke´s “Blurred Lines” with enthusiasm; not blinking an eye to the fact that it encourages date rape. I dress in short skirts well aware that the boys will be looking, and have more than once been witness to girls bashing other girls without saying anything to prevent it. I have unknowingly been actively contributing to the sexualisation of women, if that so has been by listening to rappers referring to us as “bitches”, watching objectifying chick-flicks like Sex and the City or gushing about how the new model for Victoria Secret “simply does not fit in”. Last month I even went to the cinema and watched Fifty Shades of Grey. Total low for a so-called feminist, right?
I believe the issue of feminism comes down to the fact that it is not looked upon as “cool”, and the misconception that it only regards women. You have your committed feminist, the stereotype feminist, the bad feminist and simply everyday people unsure of how vocal and visible they want to be. Feminism is a political issue after all, and it is terrifying for some to be outspoken about such issues. We all want to fit it, flow with the rest through the mainstream, and enjoy our lives without having to be ambushed on our Facebook feed by a disagreeing friend, or having to justify how we possibly could like Chris Brown´s music while still being against domestic abuse.
“But feminism is no longer needed” some may claim. If only concerned with equality under the law, this argument does have some legitimacy. Yes, both genders can vote (at least here in the UK). Both genders can own property and receive divorce settlements, and indeed, both genders can run for office. However, legal equality does not equate to sustentative equality, and the sexualisation of young girls and the wage gap between men and women still persists. These are two of the many reasons why we still need feminism. The fact that it will take more than 75 years before women can be expected to be paid the same as men or the fact that fashion dolls marketed at 6-year-olds feature fishnet stockings should be an indicator.
Feminism is not a threat to men, but a movement aiming to promote the society as a whole. Like Emma Watson said in her speech before the UN Assembly in 2014, I will restate: “Men- I will take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.” And for you girls out there who are still scared of identifying with the big nasty F word, just know, the rest of us will still be fighting for your right to be whomever you choose with the same opportunities as the ones who biologically are just not quite like you and me. So here´s to strong women; May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them. I am a feminist, and I should not feel ashamed to say it.