I’m so happy and proud and grateful to live in a time and place where women have more respect and freedom than they have in a very long time, quite possibly ever.
And I have to admit that for a while, I felt we were done. Women enjoyed the same rights as men. There was no more need for feminism, and feminists were angry women who were mad at men.
In fact, I was a bit pissed off at feminists because they confused men into thinking women don’t like things like them opening the door for us, helping us to carry things, you know,… chivalry. Or worse, men became so scared of being called a creep that they stopped giving compliments or asking women out even when she’s giving clear signals that she’s interested.
Things certainly have gotten very confusing when it comes to dating since the women’s liberation movement and sexual revolution.
I told people I was a ‘femininist,’ not a feminist. I was (and still am) interested in women finding power in their femininity, not in trying to be more like men and do everything men can do. I have no problem admitting that I like being helped with certain things; why do it myself when someone who is more naturally capable of doing something can and is willing to do it for me? It’s not that I can’t do it, but why would I when I don’t have to?
In fact, I felt being called a feminist was a bit of an insult in a way, because I didn’t want to be lumped in with the ‘angry women’ who hate men (I love Chimananda Adichie’s talk on this subject, by the way). I didn’t want to be part of creating that confusion.
(Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wonderful that we don’t have to adhere to traditional gender roles… AND I also happen to enjoy those gender roles in my love life, so it’s frustrating for me when men don’t know how to behave around me. I think part of the success of 50 Shades of Grey can be attributed to a lot of women wanting this kind of dynamic between men and women in the bedroom, especially when we’ve had to become so dominant and masculine in the rest of our lives to succeed in a man’s world. But that’s another blog post).
But over the last few years and as I get older, my eyes have been opened. And you know what? There’s still plenty to be angry about.
Annie Lennox does a fantastic job of highlighting some of the inequalities and fundamental rights violations that are still happening every day in her article on The Guardian.
From the article:
• Women account for two-thirds of all working hours and produce half the world’s food, but earn only 10% of global income and own 1% of property.
• Though women make up half the global population, they represent 70% of the world’s poor.
• Women and girls aged 15–44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than they are war, cancer, malaria and traffic accidents.
• At least one in three women around the world have been beaten, coerced into sex or abused in their lifetime.
• Between 1.5 million and 3 million girls and women die each year because of gender-based violence.
• Between 700,000 and 4 million girls and women are sold into prostitution each year.
• 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, with women dying of pregnancy-related causes at the rate of one a minute.
• Women account for nearly two-thirds of the world’s 780 million people who cannot read.
• 41 million girls worldwide are still denied a primary education.
• Globally, only one in five parliamentarians are women.
This is globally.
And even in developed countries where we’ve made huge advances (though equally qualified women still earn less than men for the same position), women face discrimination from men and even other women in the workplace because they might become pregnant or they already have children, which is interpreted as having less of a commitment to the job getting excellently done.
We still have a culture of women (and, admittedly, increasingly men) being valued for their appearance and sex appeal, which keeps us all focused on how we can get that ‘perfect’ body and perfect look while also keeping off unwanted and possibly unsafe attention, instead of all the good we could create in the world.
March 8 is International Women’s Day, but a women’s day it’s not just for women: the changes that need to happen requires all of us to look within and see how unconscious inherited behaviors and prejudices we hold against each other (because of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, etc) keep the world hostage from the positive ripple effect that would be possible if we were all truly equal.
At its core, feminism is about equality for everyone. And in the end, I’m proud to call myself a feminist.
Let’s make this one count.
If you liked this post and the sentiment it expresses, please share it. It takes a second, and every little thing counts when it comes to transforming this world into an even more beautiful place. Let’s do it together!