Friday, 14 August 2015

Feminist is I

(Photo credit to www.indunamag.com)

Feminist. It's such a dirty word isn't it?!

As soon as you say it or claim to be one there's a hush around the people nearby as if you've just admitted to some heinous crime. Males start flaring their nostrils and preparing for war because you've just said one of the most hated words in their particular dialect.

I jest of course. But really, what does being a feminist mean?

(Photo credit to www.feminist.com)

With Emma Watson's speech from last year inviting people from all around the world to join the #HeForShe movement and claim that they are feminists, there's a continued debate amongst people as to what exactly it means to be one and how it has an impact on today's society.

There's several anti-feminist women's groups which completely baffle feminists and a lot of women in general saying if it weren't for feminism, we wouldn't have come as far as we have.

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I was discussing this with a close friend of mine ages ago when we were talking about makeup and other girly things. I told her I was torn between my need to oppose the beauty industry and everything it stands for, but at the same time I saw it as a rite of passage to wear makeup, especially in my 20's.

She told me that feminism means whatever you want it to mean. Ultimately it means equality for all, recognizing that women are people not objects like the media has portrayed and led us to believe over the years.


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For me, feminism means being able to be comfortable in my own skin, my own clothes, my own life, without thinking or feeling like I owe anyone, least of all a male for everything that I have or that I've achieved.

In the religious society I grew up in, it seemed the message was the complete opposite. So often I heard or was told 'Wives, submit to your husbands'. The example of that for me was mum doing everything she could for my dad, and him just being happy with it that way. From the outside it seemed all give all the time and there was no reciprocation involved, well none that I actively saw.


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In my household, mum believed that she had to be the dutiful wife and mother that hers was before her, even if that meant putting herself last in everything and not complaining about it because that's what she was taught.

My brother seemed to take full advantage of this and didn't oppose to her doing his laundry or cleaning up after him even though she told him off for it time and time again.

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Many times she would have just finished the washing up and was glad to sit down again when he'd call out for a sandwich or some kind of a snack. Having just seen her sit down and look completely exhausted, I'd ally myself with her and call out to him that he should get it himself since he was closer to the kitchen than mum was. He'd yell something back disliking my attitude towards him not getting what he wanted from mum and mum would intervene telling him it was fine and she'd get up again to make something for him. It frustrated me endlessly that she was treated like a personal slave and she never stood up for herself even though it tired her out. On occasion if I was standing in the kitchen when a request was made for a snack, mum would ask if I could make something for him but I'd counter saying that he was more than capable of making food for himself (he was a teenager at the time) and I didn't know how to make whatever it was that he wanted and preferred the way that she made it anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I love my brother dearly and this isn't to slam him or his treatment of mum, I've heard from lots of mothers that boys prefer to let their mothers do the work for them whereas girls tend to do it themselves, or something along those lines.

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More recently though (6ish years ago) I had a boss from a Middle Eastern background who had certain expectations that because I'm a female I'd wait on him like his wife and other females in his life did. He came into work one morning when I was doing an invoice or whatever I had on my to do list and he made a point of saying that I hadn't asked him if he wanted a cup of tea that morning. I just looked at him blankly. No male, hell, no one had ever said that to me. My brother didn't drink tea or coffee and my dad either made it himself or mum made one for him if she was having one. Sometimes I'd offer, but no one had ever commented that I'd hadn't gone out of my way to ask if they wanted one. Nevertheless, my boss made himself one and sat opposite me drinking it and glimpsing at me every now and again almost as if to say 'nevermind, I made one myself!'.

I remember getting home from work after that and telling my dad about it, he was amused when I exclaimed that if my boss had two legs and beating heart, there was no reason why he couldn't make one himself. Maybe he thought it was in my job description that I'd automatically make one for him even though I'd never done so unless he'd specifically asked for one, in that case it was just another task for my to do list.

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A friend of a friend posted a Tweet screenshot about a year ago on Facebook which was sent by a guy getting up in arms about feminism and declaring that he didn't want a bar of it. I commented underneath saying that I read it as some guy who was insecure in his masculinity and wanted to blame it on women when it was really his problem to deal with.

If a guy can't handle a strong woman who knows what she wants and won't settle for less, then he doesn't deserve her.

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By the same token, my view on feminism extends towards males as well. I think a guy should also feel comfortable in his skin, clothes and life without shame or prejudice. As Emma said in her speech, guys not being allowed to show their feelings made her realise that she was a feminist.

I believe that if a woman is being belittled or mistreated in any way by a man, or even a woman, she should be able to know her worth, stand up and walk away. The same thing goes for a guy. I keep picturing all the tacky material girls who end up with the loveliest guys and treat them like a means to their own ends and the guys just putting up with it because they don't think they deserve better.


(Photo credit to carleton.edu)
If a guy wants to cry then dammit he should let the tears fall, no shame in that. If he wants to pick a girl flowers or write her a poem instead of spending half a paycheck on fancy jewelry and a 3 course dinner, then let the man be!

If feminism means equality for all, guys feel their feels with no shame, girls feel confident with no blame, then feminist is I!

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