The past century has seen sexism come to be one of the top ways in which one can discriminate. This was brought into question through the fact that 'feminists' decided that they were being treated unfairly and that it should stop and hence has had much publicity over recent years and has resulted in fewer instances of a woman being judged or treated differently solely based on her gender.
So women are no longer campaigning for the vote, or burning their bras or chaining themselves to railings in order to get their message out and yet feminism is still active today, and what I was asked by a self-confessed 'feminist' friend of mine recently really got me thinking; "Are you a feminist?"
It's terrible, but certain stigma has been attached to those calling themselves feminists... Still to this day they are often considered unfeminine trouble-makers. There are even ignorant people out there who would call them 'men-haters', and in extreme cases 'butch' and other similarly derogatory names implying lesbianism because some assume women only fight for women's freedom because they 'love' women and 'hate' men. Of course, this is not the case.
Feminists are women who believe that men and women should be treated equally. It's as simple as that. So yes, I guess I am a feminist. It makes me angry that for the most part men are still on higher rates of pay than women who do the same jobs. It makes me mad that men are often chosen ahead of women for jobs purely because employers don't want to hire someone who may one day require maternity leave and pay. It makes me sad that there are still such negative connotations to various words used to describe women in comparison to the equivalent for men... if you don't believe me just consider the differences between 'bachelor' and 'spinster' or 'slut' and 'player', plus there are tons more examples out there. It confuses me that women are still considered as their father's property until they become that of their husband, demonstrated by the fact that most women take on their husband's names... Mrs Dr John Doe for example, why isn't she just considered as herself? It makes me shake with rage that some people out there, including Constable Michael Sanguinetti believe that a woman should be judged and hence treated 'accordingly' based on their appearance and the way they dress. The reason this makes me shake with rage is because this Toronto Constable actually suggested that 'Women should avoid dressing like sluts' in order to lessen the chances of rape. Shocking, right?
It's amazing that in this day and age people still go along with sexist conventions purely for the sake of maintaining tradition. So sexuality is being embraced more openly these days (in the past a man would have to secretly find a prostitute if he wanted to let off some steam, whereas now he need only buy a girl a drink before he has her in his bed... or in the club car park, depending on what that girl allows of course) and yet it still remains a taboo for a woman to explore her sexuality as openly. If we have become less 'prudish' over the years, then more power to us, but let's try and make the lack of judgement one-size-fits-all... Whatever the 'rules' are, they should apply to everyone!
Personally, I am not the kind of girl who wants to go on a night out and pull lots of guys, but I would like the option to if I so chose, without being concerned about how society would consider me because I'm a woman. That's the whole point of feminism; if you want to be a housewife, then that's fine! But the opportunity to be a politician, doctor or lawyer should be there too!
So that's one case where I don't want to go to the party but it would have been nice to be asked. And yet there are other cases where I do want to go to the party... and dress like a 'slut' if I feel like it, without being raped (SO THERE, CONSTABLE MICHAEL SANGUINETTI!) Forexample, I don't want to be defined by the men in my life. I'm my own person.
Since I made this revelation I have decided to take on the less conventional 'Ms.' rather than 'Miss' or 'Mrs'. 'Ms' means I am a woman and you don't need to know whether I'm taken or 'belong' to a man for you to make your opinions about who I am and what I'm capable of. It's just a small change, but I figured, 'If men don't have to declare their marital status in paperwork, then why should I?'
Also, since the 'SlutWalk' campaign which took place on the 11th of June this year I have definitely decided that I will be attending the walk next year. Thousands of women took to the streets wearing the most provocative clothes they own, baring as much flesh as they wanted and marched in the name of the importance of sexual consent. Women who have been raped, or molested in the past walked with their heads held high and those who have been lucky enough never to have experienced something so terrible supported them anyway and marched carrying banners stating 'Cleavage does not mean consent', 'Short skirts don't cause rape, Rapists do' and 'Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no'.
This made me realize that if women want to stand any chance of being treated as equals to men, we need to stand together. Just because we may not be affected by sexism right now doesn't mean we'll never face that barrier... Plus, I think feminism is cool, so we really have no
I'm not saying every girl or woman out there should go out and wear no clothes, apply for a high powered job and introduce themselves as 'Ms.' However, we really should be more aware and understanding to those sorts of examples...
I hope I've given you some food for thought. Hopefully I will see as many of you as possible at next year's SlutWalk which can be found at www.facebook.com/slutwalkuk but until then, answer me this... Are You A Feminist?
Love and kisses