My Feminism...

By Lucy Harbron - 17:10

As international women’s day passes I'm reminded of the power of, and the need for, strong women. It’s something I've really focused on in the last two years of my life and I discovered the incredible strength amazing women can bring you and the power to be found in raising up other women. And though I'm unsure of when I first discovered feminism, the last two years have really solidified my stance as I read a lot, opened my eyes and really educated myself to the point where I was willing to say I'm a feminist. A proud feminist.

But I don’t just want to get caught up in the western feminism stereotype, where equality simple means eliminating girl hate and promoting body positivity.  A common misconception about feminism is that it is merely an issue of girls complaining about things that are of no importance so therefore feminism isn't needed, but take 5 minutes to do some research and you’ll find an abundance of serious SERIOUS issues effecting girls and women globally. The more I learn, the more I realise just how insulting the phrase “feminism isn't needed” is, as just because an issue isn't effecting you as you in your privileged life, doesn't make it invalid. It was this thought that made me an intersectional feminist, as I began to define what feminism means to me, and my feminism.

Once I discovered what feminism really was, digging past all the misconceptions of the movement being angry and confrontational, I realised how simple my reasoning was. I'm a woman, but looking past that I'm a human, a skeleton just the same as everyone. And that’s it, we’re the same and we should be treated the same, the same rights, the same opportunities, the same chances of a happy, healthy, safe life. Yet this isn't the case. And it’s not just that I will be paid less than my male counterpart, or my body will constantly be sexualised and challenged. It’s the articles stating that an average of 18 million girls each year will become a child bride; it’s the statistics telling me that more than 200 million girls alive today have been forced to undergo female genital mutilation, and the fact that approx 11 adults are raped every hour in the UK alone. That’s the main reason for my feminism, the extremes that are a reality daily and a by-product of inequality (though I also believe everyday “casual sexism” is a real issue as it perpetuates rape culture.)

I'm not one to force feminism down peoples through, yet in 2016 it completely baffles me why anyone would reject the movement or dispute its necessity, especially women like what?! Why fight against your own team? Against your sisters? Against your future daughter? Against yourself? It confuses me daily why in 2016, a time when feminism has reached a new high in its visibility, there are still soo so so so many damaging misconceptions and how people are still blinded by that ‘man-hating, feminazi’ crap. It’s no longer the radical call to arms it was in the 60s, feminism is a synonym for equality, and you only have to look at statistics to see clearly its necessity. One thing that does fill my little feminist heart with joy, is seeing the number of positive role models who are supporters of the movements. Beautiful intelligent women like Malala Yousafzai, Emma Watson, Rowan Blanchard, Viola Davis, Willow Smith etc. etc. etc. There so many incredible role models for young girls now that I think feminism is dripping down to the younger generation in such an incredible positive way!

But feminism isn't just for the girls, another misconception of the movement. As Emma Watson so beautifully articulated in her He For She speech at the UN back in 2014- “Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.” In 2014, men under 45 made up 78% of the total suicide rate in Europe. Gender roles and stereotypes and expectations of masculinity have a serious damaging effect. Men need gender equality just as much as we do- the male contribution to parenting is regularly considered lesser, ideas of masculinity prevent many from being able to come forward and discuss their troubles, leading to high mental illness rates. It’s not just a women’s issue, its inclusive, its global. And the face of feminism is changing as many many successful males have come forward and said “yep I'm a feminist, why aren't you?” Please remember, feminism is gender-less, being a feminist simply means you believe in equality, regardless of gender.

It’s easy to fall for the misconception of feminists being overly offended by everything, fighting everyone for no results and no reason. But that’s not my feminism. My feminism is for the girl in Africa unable to go to school as her parents forbid her, and for the girl that has to drop out of school merely because of her period and the taboos surrounding a natural process. My feminism is for the victims, too afraid to speak out because of the connotations that may be attached to them. My feminism is for the 13 year old girl dying because her body isn't strong enough for the baby it’s creating. My feminism is for the man unable to tell his friends that he’s struggling, and harvesting that pain inside of him. My feminism is for the entirety of the LQBT+ community, and all the people that still have to explain and validate their existence. My feminism is for the little boy who wants to be a princess but is forced to be a pirate instead. My feminism is for the girl ashamed of the body hair she’s grown, for the woman shamed for feeding her child, for the business woman with ¾ of the pay check she deserves. My feminism is for the girls and women, the men and the boys. Its inclusive, intersectional. My feminism, though riddled with privilege and a tiny contribution on a global scale, is necessary. All feminism, anyones feminism, is necessary.

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