As a child, I liked to make up fake countries and pretend to rule them. Once my uncle walked in on me playing this game and I proudly declared that I was the king of my imaginary country. He told me that I was a girl and therefore a queen. I told him it was my country and I was the king, thank-you-very-much.
He then spent some time trying to convince me that I was a queen instead of a king. However, he never once asked why I thought I wanted to be a king instead of a queen. Even in elementary school I had realized that masculinity received more respect than femininity. So I decided I would be more masculine and garner more respect. In retrospect, it’s sad that I thought I had to be like a man to be fully valued.
Lately I’ve seen a lot of social media posts saying things to the effect of “Women have the right to vote. Women can do everything men can do. What more do they want?”
Perhaps it’s this mindset that leads people to (erroneously) believe that feminist women believe they are better than men or that they want more privilege than men. But it is a valid question. What more do women want?
We want respect. We want safety. And we want to be treated like people and not bodies.
I have no doubt that women can do everything men do. Women have been doing incredible things for thousands of years, often regardless of whether society permitted or approved of it. But these achievements are hard-earned and undervalued.
Case in point: a woman does something amazing and the media chooses to focus on a sexualized aspect of her body.
Yes, the feminism of the past has won some important battles. But the feminism of the present recognizes there’s still work to be done.
Because we’re taught from a young age to hate our bodies.
Our bodies are objectified, compared to food.
And when you treat women like objects, men start to think that they can talk to women like this (NSFW language):
Interesting how these men think they can completely devalue a woman by attacking her appearance.
Clearly, there’s still work to do.
I’m trying to be patient with non-feminist friends. Though I would very kindly suggest that before you slam on feminism, you make sure you really understand what it’s all about. Many of the arguments I see address a dated brand of feminism, serve only as straw man arguments, and stall useful discussion. At any rate, I try to be patient. I try to explain why we DO need feminism. I used to decry feminism as well because I didn’t see how these issues affected me personally and because I didn’t want to feel like a victim.
I see the need now.
For my friends who are not feminists, I try to be grateful that they’ve never experienced anything that made them see a need for feminism. Feminism isn’t a perfect movement; it never has been. But with feminism, I see progress. I see no progress without it.
Do you know what to say to your friend when she tells you she’s been raped?
Probably not. Because there are no right words for that. There is nothing you can say that will make that right. About the only thing you can do is tell her that you will fight for her. And then you do fight for her. In any way you know how.
I hope you’re starting to see the need for feminism. But whether you do or not, you will not prevent me from seeing it. Nor will you prevent me from fighting. For my friend. For my sisters. For women I don’t even know, because they deserve it.
Because feminism isn’t about fighting against men. It’s about fighting for women.
And in the words of Rachel Platten, I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.