This isn't a place where I get wordy. My blog is usually a place for my photos, outfits, and recipes–but it's International Women's Day and I need to talk about something that's very important to me: feminism.
"Feminist." Although the word is getting more of a positive connotation these days as celebrities like Beyoncé wear the label like a badge of honor, it had a strong negative connection for many of my formative years. I had always been into the "girl power" movement that was especially popular in the early 00's. I grew up watching shows with female protagonists, like Sailor Moon and Powerpuff Girls. I wasn't afraid to pursue my passions and follow my dreams. But for some reason, until I was in high school, I wasn't sure if I defined myself as a feminist because I honestly didn't know what a feminist was.
By now we have generally realized that feminists aren't the stereotype of man-hating women who refuse to follow gender conventions. At least I hope most people have realized this. I think one of the biggest problems with feminism is that people don't have a definition for it. But gradually we're coming to understand what the label really is.
"Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Feminism isn't about women being superior to men or wanting to take over the world. It's about equality. It is also not just a women's issue: sexism affects both men and women. Misogyny is the reason why society judges men who cry, partake in "feminine" activities, or show signs of weakness and "femininity." So when guys shrug off feminism, saying that they have it bad too, they don't realize that feminism is also working to help them as well. Feminism is a human issue that is important to all gender identities because misogyny affects all gender identities.
We act as if feminism is not necessary in our day in age but the cold truth is that "feminine" and "masculine" are not equal, politically or socially. Misogyny is the reason I felt inclined to read different books than my brother growing up because his books were "boy books." Misogyny is the reason that while I was growing up, the only kind of science kit that was considered appropriate for girls was a pretty crystal-growing kit or DIY makeup set. Misogyny is the reason why in middle school I tried to hide my intelligence from boys I had crushes on. What's more, misogyny is also the reason why 70% of people living on less than $1 a day are women, why women are 50% of the global population and make up 20% of parliamentary seats, and why in the United States women still make $0.77 cents per every dollar a man makes, more than 40 years after the Equal Pay Act. Misogyny is the reason why there are double standards, why rapists are let off the hook, and why governments feel at liberty to police women's bodies. It's also the reason why the male population of my high school–and some male teachers–felt at liberty to call our "Visible Women's Club" the "Invisible Women's Club." None of this is okay. But every day people say that feminism isn't necessary in our developed, advanced society, because "we're equal." And that's just not the facts.
In high school, as I learned more about gender inequality, I started to realize how important feminism was to me. But along with that realization came a lot of conflicting feelings. What I still a feminist if I loved fashion, makeup, and other "feminine" interests? I was torn especially by my love of vintage clothing because of its connections with imposing male restraints on the female body. But one of the most important things I realized about feminism was that it doesn't require you to give up what you like just to fit a sort of feminist ideal. I can cook and dress up and have people jokingly call me a Betty Homemaker because I know that I am independent and I know that sacrificing traditionally "feminine" interests in the name of feminism only supports the misogynistic view that "feminine" things are inherently inferior to "masculine" things. You can't force people to change their personal taste and interests just to even out the gender dichotomy–and that goes for both males and females. It's about equality.
I am a feminist because I believe in equal opportunity. I am a feminist because misogyny is a universal problem. I am a feminist because it just makes sense.
I am a feminist because I have spent too long apologizing for my thoughts, opinions, and existence. And I'm not going to say I'm sorry for saying so.
Happy International Women's Day.