I was 14 when I first started calling myself a feminist. From what I knew it meant that you wanted gender equality. I didn’t know of the negative connotations people have towards it and to what extent. I’m guessing you guys know; if you’re a feminist, you have to hate men. Umm… not exactly.
I’m gonna quote my girl Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and ecomonic equality of the sexes”.
The early feminists wrote quite a deal about women rights. In A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Mary Shelley argued that the female gender should be allowed to have an education as they are essential to the nation. Olympe de Gouges urged France to have legal equality between the genders and for women to have the right to own property in her most famous work Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen. The District Governor’s Daughters (Amtmandens Døttre) by Camilla Collett revolves around women in unfair arranged marriages. The suffragettes fought for women’s right to vote in the late 19th and early 20th century. During the big abortion debate in United States in the 60s, many feminists came out with a pro-choice stance, stating that women had the right to do whatever they wanted with their bodies. Feminism has been largely a female movement, and yes, it has mostly been about women’s rights. That does not mean in any way that feminists hate men. It simply means that there have been a lot more mountains to climb and bridges to cross for the female gender.
For example, the French revolutionaries hoped to achieve more equality between the different classes. They didn’t fully attain it. When lowerclass men were able to vote, women still didn’t have any choice in politics. Likewise happened in the American revolution and in countless other countries. When class no longer becomes an issue, people instead use gender as a way to differentiate people and their worth. And women are always told they’re worth less.
In the modern day and age feminists have achieved a lot. Women of the past have performed miracles and I, as a young lady in the year of 2014, will be eternally grateful. The playing fields are more even than they were just a century ago. While there is still an astonishing amount of work to be done (women only earn 10 percent of the world’s income though they work two-thirds of the working hours, 64 percent of illiterature adults are women, 39 000 girls are forced into an early marriage everyday and that’s not even all of it), the progress that has been made can’t be denied.
UN Women have created a movement that is hoping to bring about gender equality. The HeForShe campaign urges men to speak up about inequality and discrimination faced by girls and women based on their gender. When you oppose a female being outspoken, honest and authorative in any way, you are contributing to the thought that women aren’t “supposed” to be like that. When you oppose a male being sensitive, careful and compassionate, you are contributing to the thought that men aren’t “supposed” to be like that. Removing and breaking down the notion that to be fully accepted as a male or female, you have to fit into the narrow box of that gender as it’s traditionally perceived, is the goal. And if we achieve that, it will be easier for everyone, both men and women, to actually be themselves.