05 Nov Feminism: A Collective Consciousness
Feminism has become a buzzword in our pop culture, causing it to earn misappropriation, ridiculous tagline attachments’ and a man-hating stereotype. The root of the problem being the lack of awareness about what the F word really stands for and the mainstream/trendy perception that it has been receiving in the media lately (Hi, Hillary). Our typical picture of a feminist goes something like this: blue haired, cat loving, hairy legged, hip 20 something y/o who has set out to take over the world and exterminate the male sex. Not that there’s anything wrong with blue hair… However, a feminist is EVERY woman and EVERY man fighting for equality.
What does feminism mean to you?
I want to be respected like a man and treated like a lady, which I believe is what feminism boils down to. In my life, I’ve personally experienced degrading and insulting treatment from men who don’t know how to accomplish one or both of those. As a female engineer- a woman in a predominantly male field- I’ve experienced sexism from more than one professor. One consistently graded women harsher, as if expecting all our work to be subpar. Another told a female student who was struggling to find a boy to support her. In the workplace, there is the constant struggle of never being able to be as assertive as a man, because then you’re a shrew. Hormonal, naggy, bitchy, are the kind of terms thrown around by a misogynist when faced with any competition or opposition from a woman. The most basic desire of a feminist is to be held to the same standard as men and judged the same as a man…sounds so easy! But it’s a fight against cultural biases and norms that have existed for hundreds of years and have only started really changing in the past few decades. The feminists of today aren’t just fighting for respect, they are breaking the mold of generations. In particular, the older generations of men (and women!), you find the most well-meaning but oblivious sexism. For example, “Honey, that’s going to be too hard for you,” or “A pretty girl like you shouldn’t have to be doing this work.” That’s being treated like a lady, but not respected like a man. I come from a very small town in rural Alabama, where most girls had limited options–food stamps, drugs, and/or mommyhood–and little encouragement to go further. Now I live in New York City, on the opposite end of the American spectrum. Despite being a city of strong women accomplishing whatever the hell they want, there is still that pullback of ingrained sexism, the mindset that reduces every woman to a walking vagina.
Simply put, feminism means equality of the sexes. There’s some common misconceptions surrounding the word “feminism” such as only women are feminists and if you’re a feminist, you inherently hate men. Uhm… That’s not what feminism is about. It’s about shattering outdated stereotypes, fighting to eliminate the wage gap, protecting women’s rights, challenging how women are portrayed in the media and continuing to pave new opportunities for women. Women still get paid significantly less than men and hold less leadership roles. It’s still “inconvenient for business” when a woman decides to have a family. Women are still portrayed as hysterical for showcasing emotions, yet cold when they hold it all in. Women are still regarded as sex objects in commercials, television, magazines and movies. Women still experience slut shaming and victim blaming. And recently, the hashtag #RepealThe19th trended, in which people favored the idea of muting the women’s right to vote. It’s a crucial time to stand for these equal rights and not be scared to call yourself the “F” word—a feminist.
Ever since I was young, I saw my mother take control of not just our household, but of her life. She was a black woman who came from little and managed to become a lawyer for the state of Arkansas. My mother doesn’t scream overly loving or a generic definition of maternal but, she was the leader in our house. Never were our goals and dreams too small or too large. I was being shaped into a feminist ever since I was a kid. Seeing how much a woman can do is very illuminating, in my opinion. For the past 3 years, I have tried diminishing any misogynistic or anti-feminist thoughts about women. I think it is every woman’s responsibility to support each other and stop living to please men. I find it disgusting how women are based on attractiveness. If you are modest, you will be taken more seriously in the work place. If you are sexy or over-the-top, you are just looking for male approval. Not only is it women’s responsibility to support each other, but it is also men’s responsibility. Forget that we are a different gender, we are all human at the end of the day. The fact that we are considered lesser than men is just crazy to me. It just shows how we as women are valued for certain parts of us, but not as a whole. This is definitely present when it comes to dating. Men sometimes feel like women are not perfect enough or worthy enough. Lastly, as a black female I find it that we are last in line for everything. We are truly the least protected group in this world. Black women have been hypersexualized, brunt of many jokes, too loud, too much, not attractive, etc. That hurts. Living in a world that does not cater to us makes us very resilient and strong. However, it gives us this disadvantage of not being lifted up from our pain because we are perceived as extremely strong. I am very glad Hillary is running for president. She has received shit just for being a woman who won’t back down. Let’s stop labeling women bitchy, bossy or crazy in the workplace.
I completely agree… Feminism means equality across all spectrums! Be it wages or stereotypes of what a woman should be. I also believe in women building each other up and not judging. So many of us are quick to jump to conclusions about our different lifestyles. I’ve read articles by self-proclaimed “feminists” tearing other women down because they choose to stay at home for one reason or another and not work. That’s not right. The true and raw meaning of feminism is the choice to be whatever the fuck you want without having an invisible hurtle placed on you. That hurdle can be the glass ceiling or an angry woman behind her phone screen. You want to be a stay at home mother/wife? The next CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Open up a coffee shop and be your own boss? Go for it. More power to ya! I believe in the OPPORTUNITY that is given to a woman to be that of equal value given to anyone else.