I’ve wanted to write a post like this for a long time, and I felt like there was no better week than the week that holds International Womens Day. I’ve held off writing this post because I’m not an expert on being a feminist, it’s never my goal to offend or upset anyone so let’s just keep that in mind whilst we read this post, shall we? I just want to educate those who may not know a lot about feminism, and help to eradicate the stigma surrounding it. There’s so much that people don’t know or don’t consider when thinking about feminism, and a stupid amount of people dismiss it because of the NAME. What even
The feminist movement has spanned over about 130 years (probably a lot more, actually), starting way back in the 1890s and focusing on women’s right to vote through the 1900s. This was the first thing I remember learning about feminism. I remember learning about and loving the suffragettes and their sacrifices so we could vote for our future, I’d never heard anything like it before and I was completely baffled – it’s important to remember where and how it all started. The film Suffragette is also an incredible watch; I’m not a huge movie fan but I actually turned my phone off, put it in a drawer and sat and watched the whole film without moving to even take a drink. By the end, I had a tension headache partly due to dehydration but also due to frowning so much over how women were treated back then.
Feminism is the ‘advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of equality for the sexes’ – basically translated as men and women are seen as equals. Should be a given right? But it isn’t. And that is why we had, and still need, feminism. It goes so much deeper than letting white women post nudes and wear whatever they want, which is what most people think it is. It’s not a well liked movement at all. There’s a lot of stigma surrounding feminism and many people associate the word and everything it stands for with misandry, the hatred of men. The feminist movement is seen as a way of tearing men down so women can claw their way up to the top, which isn’t the case at all. We want to claw our way to the top and stand with men. There’s room for all of us up there, y’know! Just like there was room for Jack on the door. Swap the genders and you’ve got yourself a damn good metaphor for life.
I have a pretty big issue with the people who refuse to identify as a feminist because of the female connotations. They believe in equality, but god forbid they become associated with such a girly word! Among many of the excuses that I’ve heard for this is that feminism doesn’t help men, so why should they identify as one? Funnily enough, the majority of people I’ve known to have said this are white males. Now, I understand that #notallmen are privileged and not all white men get the same opportunities – BUT, white males are the most privileged of all genders and races. So…yeah, the feminist movement is gonna try and help the others more. There are women in Saudi Arabia who can barely breathe without their husbands consent, so let’s try and gain a little perspective here. It comes across as pretty selfish to say feminism isn’t needed just because you’re privileged.
I’m not a feminist for myself. As far as things go, I’m pretty privileged, and I recognise that. I think I have fair opportunities against men where I live, I’m not seen as a weak little girl (except by old ladies, but I can take them) and overall, apart from all the sexual harassment that myself and many other women face daily, I don’t feel the need to fight for myself. I’m a feminist more for the women who don’t have a voice, who face real struggles every single day and who need a change to improve their quality of living. It baffles me that someone, male or female, could stand there and say that feminism is not important when young girls are still being forced to wed men over double their age and many women are illiterate. In the 21st century, this shouldn’t be an issue and we shouldn’t be so ignorant as to ignore it. It’s exactly like ignoring climate change – it doesn’t affect me, so it doesn’t exist! We live in blissful ignorance over the horrific acts that take place across the seas every single day. No woman should have to live with what they live with.
I’ve started to research a lot into how we can help these women, so we’re not just sitting ducks. Raising awareness is good and does help, but without an action, there can be no possible reaction. We privileged women have to help, we have no idea how lucky we are and it’s up to us to use our voice to help those who don’t have one. SO, here’s what you can do! Male or female, get yo ass over to help.
- Girls Not Brides – This site is for ending child marriage (which should NOT still be a thing) and providing help and education to girls in order to help them reach their full potential. There’s videos and information about child marriage and what they are doing to eradicate it, and a lot of donation pages detailing exactly where your money is going. You can become a supporter or collaborator, and they tell you how you can help, give you facts and statistics of child marriage and help you become more educated on the topic and how it can be stopped. It’s such a useful site that makes me want to cry every time I go onto it, but this is the reality for a lot of little girls.
- The Malala Fund – Malala is an activist for female education, and I think everyone knows of and have heard of her. Her fund wants to provide education to girls who cannot access it, in countries such as Pakistan, India and Nigeria. You can fundraise, donate and join the movement. We don’t see our education as a luxury because we’ve always had it – we’d much rather not go to school and sit at home playing games all day. But there are millions of girls who would do anything for the chances in education that we have – take a minute to think about your education and how it’s helped you, and think about what a difference it could make to a girl who has no other hopes.
- PERIOD – PERIOD is an organisation focusing on helping women have regular access to menstrual care, something else we take for granted. Period products are taxed, making them expensive even for women who have money and have access to them. There’s no hope for homeless women, and women in developing countries don’t even have access to these products. PERIOD deliver period packs to women in need, containing menstrual care products, they raise awareness of this issue and eliminate the period taboo through educating those in schools and universities. We can help by donating (just $2 gives a woman cover for one menstrual cycle), distributing their period packs ourselves or donating products for them to include. Periods are nasty business anyway, they’re not pleasant, and we can make them a whole lot more pleasant for those women who have nothing to help them get through it.
- Women for Women – Women for Women helps women affected by conflict and war by giving them the opportunity to learn some new skills that will help them in getting a job and improving their quality of life. War destroys lives and a lot of women have no clue where to start building it back up again, to a better standard than it was before. We can help by sponsoring a woman and helping her in her quest for new skills and education and becoming an ambassador. The website also recognises that it’s important to engage men in this issue as well, and a large chunk of sponsors are also men. They support the women whilst they find employment and during their 12 month training programme. We can’t even imagine how conflict and war could destroy our world, and it’s another one of those things that we ignore because it doesn’t affect us. Time to stop that!
A quick google search reveals so many more organisations and websites to help women in education and lifestyle, to improve their quality of live and get them back on their feet after horrific incidents. THIS is what feminism is. Feminism is stopping the discrimination of females, not just in Europe, but in developing countries where they’re seen as nothing. I’m a feminist for these women.
If you do your research about child marriage and the lack of female education and STILL say you’re not a feminist, I don’t want to speak to you.
There’s just so much that isn’t spoken about or considered when talking about feminism. We need to do better at raising awareness for these women and educating those “non-feminists” on the things they don’t think about.
When did you realise you were a feminist?