Feminism — the word weighs heavy and tastes dirty on my tongue. Visions of burning bras and harsh women shouting from their pedestals come to mind. Feminism is a loaded word — a dirty word — but why?
We all live in a universe where we are brought up being told that when we grow older we can become anything we want regardless of our sex.
I remember in kindergarten there was a day set aside for all of us to dress up and tell the class what we want to be when we are older. Girls showed up with shiny stethoscopes hung proudly around their necks, others wearing golden badges with “sheriff” displayed across their chest. I wore a red hat and stood before my classmates and said proudly that I wanted to be a fireman one day just like my dad.
No one laughed and said I couldn’t fight fires because I’m a girl. Instead, I received a room full of applause, and I gained confidence in knowing that my classmates and I could do anything we put our minds to.
Later, down the road, some of us would find ourselves settling for lower-paying jobs and focusing instead on our roles as mothers and wives. This isn’t because we lack ambition but because we lack empowerment.
When we exist in a world where, instead of deciding on our gender roles and boundaries, we are taught them, how can we aspire to be more?
An assertive male boss who is capable of delegating tasks is considered to be a strong, successful leader. But, a woman in the same role is often labeled pushy, overbearing or, to put in simpler terms, a bitch.
I read an article earlier this year that described a husband who stabbed and murdered his cheating wife. It was labeled “an act of passion.”
Yet, when we turn on our televisions, we can find shows highlighting quite similar stories, instead of women who cracked and murdered cheating boyfriends, husbands and friends. A show describing a woman committing such a horrendous act is given a cute name (e.g. “Snapped”).
Murder is a horrific act regardless of whether the perpetrator is a man or woman.
The double standard even carries over to our personal lives and comes with the territory of discussing men’s sex lives as opposed to women. Women are slut-shamed for having multiple partners, and men are glorified for “getting it in” on a daily basis. If having multiple sex partners is considered shameful for a woman then the same should be considered of a man who has seen his fair share of women naked.
Women receive catcalls while walking down the street; men will shout lewd comments that I’m sure they would never want their mothers or sisters to receive.
Our bodies aren’t made solely for the pleasure of men, yet you would think that is the case.
Every day, we are sold different forms of crap explaining what we need to do in order to attract the right guy, as if our authentic selves are not enough.
Men who have had one too many beers can still be seen as sexy when referring to their body’s current shape as the “dad bod.” There is no such honor for women to be labeled as having a “mom bod.” In fact, women of the same shape have other, less sexy terms to refer to the shape of their bodies: the muffin top and love handles.
However, in light of all these setbacks, it may surprise you that I don’t believe our fingers should solely be pointed at our male counterparts.
Women are a majority of the problem, and here’s why. Remember that dirty word I mentioned earlier? The reason we have not been able to move forward happens to be the real f-word: feminism.
Feminism began as a movement for equal rights of women socially, economically and politically because there was a time women couldn’t work, vote or even own their own land. Luckily, strong men and women fought for that to change.
Although it may not be its initial driving force, in some cases, feminism has now created a movement of hate toward society and the pedestal men have been put on top of. Instead of forming together as a whole to move toward a common good, feminism has accomplished the exact opposite.
The fact that feminism is even a term is a setback because it furthers the separation of women to men, thus making inequality more prominent. Instead of focusing on what is working against women, we should be working toward a new movement of human equality: the idea that a person can be judged solely on their talents and capabilities instead of judged by their genetic makeup.
It seems that feminism has turned into something that allows for men to be seen as the enemy and women to play as martyrs who have been wronged for so long by the big, bad men in power.
There is a call for women’s rights to be strengthened, of course, but not at the cost of tearing down our opposite sex and pointing blame anywhere else other than ourselves. We need to start looking at women and men as humans first, regardless of what ethnicity they are and especially regardless of what they possess underneath their clothing.
Why must we fill out on standardized tests our gender or, for that matter, our ethnic background? Does a person who shades in the bubbles next to Caucasian and male get graded on a different scale than the person who shades in female and “other” for ethnicity?
We’re told this is a procedure put in place in order to keep track of the different percentiles certain ethnicities and specific genders score in. But why the hell should that matter? A 100 percent is still a perfect score regardless of the background of the test taker.
I believe in equality of the sexes. I also believe that genders are different but of equal worth and stature. I believe the only way we can seek equality is if we eliminate groups that further separate us from joining one another.
We will never see the double standards in society cease to exist unless we stop segregating ourselves from one another in hopes of gaining equality. The change starts with us, not with others. We are the only thing standing in our way.
Just as my kindergarten class did so many years ago, we should applaud all people who aspire to be something bigger than themselves and bigger than their outlined gender role.
Sure it takes balls to be a woman, but it takes even more to be a human that doesn’t allow their sex to define who they are and what they do.