I am a feminist.
I am surrounded by strong women. I revel in their company – peers, mentors, sisters, family. They inspire my strength. I have been blessed to grow up with parents who did not place me in traditional gender roles, and for better or worse I am 21 and still do not know how to cook. They let me question the injustices of the sex-gender and work with me through my concerns. They have proudly fostered my feminist identity. I constantly question tradition, the norm, the inherent inequality between men and women, and the socialization that women and men are subjected to when fulfilling their gender roles.
And yet, I have come to realize that there are many women who have another kind of relationship with their gender position – a role that I believe should have been left in the 60s.
I am not a feminist. I am just a woman.
People frown upon women who classify themselves as a “feminist” — including other women. But why? Many women have come to foster a submissive relationship with their gender identity. They expect to be taken care of. They go to college for the sake of societal norm, but are more than happy to abandon all personal dreams to become a housewife. And marriage, of course, is of upmost concern.
This need to to feel wanted is toxic. Many women are okay with going to bars and never having to pay for a drink because they know they are a woman and that if they act, dress and flirt a certain way – objectify themselves – they won’t have to pay for anything the whole night. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with working the system, but there is something wrong in never questioning the assumptions we are socialized to have about the unequal and often unjustifiable roles of men and women.
It is OK to be that feminist.
I am increasingly learning about the power of feminist resistance to traditional gender roles and I am trying to find ways to impart the minimal knowledge I have to empower whoever I can. Perhaps writing is one way, or embodying my views by the way I act, or always being willing to discuss the struggles of occupying the position of “woman.” Being that feminist comes with its own stereotypes and assumptions, but sometimes being the annoying woman in the room who corrects others when they say “you guys,” or “dude” or “bitch,” is worth it. Each of these phrases and so many more has an arguably violent and degrading history. Sometimes, paying for your own drink is better than assuming everything will be taken care of. Sometimes, saying no to cooking for the night can be the most significant act of resistance. Women are half the world’s population. We give life, and thus we need to start respecting the value of our own selves.
Let out your inner feminist.
To my sisters: See your own light, your own self-worth, independently of the approval of any man, parent, sibling, teacher or friend. We are individuals. We must realize that equality of humans is a beautiful thing. We cannot let what society has socialized into your psyche be the end of your self-exploration – we must resist, change, fight. For yourself and for your sisters.