I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to have overly wide hips, an uneven chest, dry hair, and saddlebags. Because despite what the media and TV shows I grew up watching told me, I learned I am beautiful. Every flaw, stretch mark, and curve makes me, ME. I am even prouder to now be a young woman in a society that exemplifies and celebrates women of all nationalities, size, and socioeconomic status. You are not honored for your fame or beauty, but there are women being honored for being strong mothers, citizens, and activists. The women who spend day in and day out behind the scenes single-handedly supporting a family or recovering rape victims who have finally found the strength to let down their walls and learn to love. These are the moments that make me proud to stand as a woman in society.
We are a movement. We represent the foundation of this nation, unity. We are a body of forces. A sea of cultures. A wall of women who have faced all odds and come out one way or the other. The voices to the silenced. I will not push aside my outrage over unequal pay or my body being objectified anytime I wear a shorter skirt to show off my legs that I have learned to love.
You may be reading this and say "oh great another psycho feminist article". Well, my friend, I have something to say to you. Fun fact, not all feminists are the same. However, we stand for the same cause. I like to define my views on feminism with a quote from Sophia Bush:
"I’m a woman. I would like to be judged on the quality of my work, I would like to be compensated fairly for my work. I would like to have just as much access to healthcare as any man. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I don’t know what the big fight is all about."
So what's all the fuss about? I as a woman, who will graduate college with a doctorate's degree and work the same hours as a man, have gone through the same education as a man, and could potentially have even more clients than my male co-workers, may still get paid less than a man? Now you tell me, how that is fair? Feminism is simple. It is about the equality of men and women. NOT about superiority.
If I ask any of my male peers what they think of feminism I've been flashed the middle finger, witnessed a number of eye rolls, and even heard the muffled giggles too. It is not a joke. Women are not a joke. Just because a movement does not include you, does NOT make it a joke. I am a young woman who stands in support and solidarity of equality of women all over our globe. I believe in the right for Muslim women to choose whether they want to wear hijab or full niqāb, not to be stripped of their individualism by a misogynistic government. I believe in the right for women to be educated in order to gain knowledge and degrees to earn their own paychecks instead of being forcefully confined to their household because of "tradition" when they long to achieve their own dreams. I believe in the equality of women.
I have been taking a literature course this semester that has opened my eyes to the crisis women outside of the U.S. face. Novels like I am Malala, Persepolis, and Cracking India have shown me the absolute terror women that do not have the same freedom, as us women in the United States, experience. Their everyday dress, identity, education, marriage, and sexuality is dictated by their government and their patriarchal families. I am blessed to be a young woman who has been granted an education, healthcare, a job, and the freedom to choose my sexuality and wardrobe. So I will not be silenced. I will use my advantageous position to fight for the women who cannot fight for themselves. Malala Yousafzai once said, "We cannot succeed when half of us are held back. We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave, to embrace the strength within themselves and realize their full potential." Women like Malala Yousafzai and Marjane Satrapi were not afraid to speak up in a country who threatened them with violence and jail time for fighting for women's freedom, so why should I be afraid or ashamed to speak out for the basic freedoms we as women deserve worldwide?
Now let me ask you, is feminism really so scary? No. Is equal pay, education, marriage, healthcare, and dress truly such a mind-boggling topic? I didn't think so. So I beg of you the next time you see a woman fighting for what she justly deserves, keep your misogynistic, sexist remarks to yourself. You may not understand, but if you knew, you would be an activist too.
So on International Women's Day, I celebrate the women like Malala Yousafzai who stood unwavering even when knocked down by a gunshot on the verge of death, she fought for women, their education and their freedom. For celebrities like Sophia Bush, Ashley Graham, and Beyoncé who publicly promote female equality for women of all size, ethnicity, and occupation. Today and every day, I am proud to be a woman.