Societal expectations are really strange, when you think about it. They're constraining, and that's something that many feminists think about in their fight for equality.
When we think about feminism and feminist ideology, we think of a common stereotype: bra-burning, man-hating women looking for equality in the work force. In essence, this stereotype is hurting the chances of people understanding and relating to the true meaning of what feminists fight for.
I’m going to present a fact that is shocking to those that don’t understand what feminism is: Feminism is for EVERYONE. Not just middle-class, white women–everyone, and that includes men.
When you think about it, you have to have men in the feminist conversation. The societal role that we place on men and women is just archaic and quite ridiculous. We begin teaching boys and girls at a young age that women are expected to do one thing and men the other, and the lines can’t be crossed. Pink and blue, no purple allowed.
However, that’s a situation that is harming everyone. Look at masculinity: men have to be strong, have little emotion and always err on the side of being “manly.”
But who decides what “manly” even is? Society has prescribed a way of thinking that is toxic for men and women, and has prevented many from expressing whatever gender fluidity that they have. If a woman wears pants, that’s OK. If a man were to wear a dress, that’s a shock to the system.
Men like Kurt Cobain and David Bowie were champions of dressing however you want whenever you want, despite your gender and your sexuality. Blurring the lines of what is and isn't normal actually made more people comfortable in their own skin, despite how hard society viewed them.
What feminism does is provide the opportunity for people to explore themselves, but also allow men and women and everyone in between to express themselves with no judgment. Women are allowed to have emotions and cry and talk about their feelings–emotions are not assigned for men.
Intersectionality is so important to understand. Modern feminists like Emma Watson understand the importance of male feminists, and works as an ambassador for UN Women and the HeForShe campaign.
Societal expectations are so difficult to break, and it will take a while for people to understand that, no matter who you are or where you come from, we're all the same, and we must treat each other with respect. Don’t be afraid to be yourself; it’s something easier said than done, but it’s a mindset to have and to keep with you.