Why are we raising girls who grow into women who think that they need a man to define them, to protect them, to provide for them? I didn’t realize that somehow, overnight almost, we, as a culture, had gone back to medieval times, where women needed a man at all times.
What happened to the fury, the want, the independence that our ancestors fought for? What happened to the trailblazing? When did that fire die? The rally in Times Square, are those forgotten? The freedom of the sixties, where we had the freedom to be yourself and love who you want, where did that go? Is the ambition left behind for us to once again stay at home to bear children, cook, and do housework? Certainly not.
People ask me why I am a feminist, with their lips curling downwards at the word, as if it is dirty. Are you gay, they will ask. Do you hate all men, they continue to question. No, I answer, I just want some to have the same opportunities as men. They will retort the women do have the same opportunities as men. Yes, we may have the same opportunities, but we do not have the same chance of achieving those opportunities, of continuing our ambitions, of not being discriminated the whole long while. For every dollar that a man makes, a woman, doing the exact same job, is only making 74 cents. Why is that? Are we weak? Certainly not, because we are strong. Are we emotional? Yes, but that allows us to connect with the world and people all around us. It allows for us to feel what others might not and to be able to freely communicate these emotions. Then why be a *hushed whisper* feminist.
Me, being a feminist, means and says that I will not give up. I want to see the separation and cultural boundaries between men and women dissolve. Workplaces, life styles, and our culture would be equal. Stay-at-home dads would not seem so crazy and radical. Women and men would make equal amounts of money. Boys and girls wouldn’t be limited to play with certain toys and only watch certain shows. This is the ideal world, but how could we possibly move towards this point?
The most obvious answer to this complex question is to stop sexist stigmas that are holding us back. Saying lines such as “men don’t cry” or “she’s being overly emotional about nothing” would end. What will this do, one might ask? This will allow us to stop being divided by restrictions that are confining us. This will us to be humans who feel things and not have to hide it. Possibilities and will awaken and our equality will be at our fingertips.
Why have gender equality at all though? Wouldn’t that confuse people, sexuality would become confused? Say that you are a parent to a pair of maternal twins, a boy and a girl. Raised in the same environment, schooling, and values, with the same work ethic and ability to achieve. They go into the same field of work at the same office place. This is the best example of inequality that can be easily explained. The girl does the same amount of work as the boy, but doesn’t make the same amount of money. Instead, she gets paid less, does the more “womanly tasks” around the office (cleaning up small messes, bringing sweets to meetings, and decorating for office parties), and is sometimes sexually harassed at times even. Now, as a parent, you listen to your offspring tell you about these differences. Are you hurt for your daughter and tell her to fight against it or do you tell her that that’s just how the world is? Do you tell her not to worry about it because she’ll soon be married and not have to worry about working? These are just the small differences that can mean the whole world to some women.
A woman who has dated many men and goes on dates often is thought of as needy, slutty, and promiscuous. A man in the same situation is congratulated, clapped on the shoulder, and is thought of as “manly.” Why do we have two very different views of the same situation?
Some ask me where my feminist views come from, who inspired them, who raised me to believe like this? They come from being surrounded by a community of strong women, with sturdy faith, and who never gave up. These views also are inspired by my mother. She raised me as a single parent from the time I was five years old. Her faith never wavered, even as the Recession of 2008 hit us hard, and her having only a part time job. I can still remember sitting with her while telling me that anything is possible for women, that my education will one day become my most valued possession and that nobody will ever be able to take it away from me. I remember her telling me that someone’s history does not define their future and that you should never judge someone because of their past or how they look. All that matters is now and what you do with the days that you are given. She raised me around women who never thought of giving up and whose faith was always strong, no matter what got thrown at them.
My background in this amazing community is my inspiration, my reason, my everything for all that I believe in now. How could I be anything else. How could I let their stories go unheard? How could I let their cause not get carried on to the next generation? How could I let myself get carelessly passed on to a man, like business transaction? I can’t. That is why I fight for equality between genders. That is why I am a feminist.