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Gender equality

I am a feminist. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the word is seen as a negative one. That women who call themselves feminists are too strong, too stubborn. That they are anti-men. That they think of themselves as better, more important than them.

I would like to think of myself as socially adjusted, involved and aware. I, sometimes, follow the news or scan today’s paper. And feminism, being the timely topic that it is, is everywhere; on the internet, in books, politics and so on. Because it’s been thought that feminism is no longer needed, that we’ve reached our goal. But nothing could be further from the truth.     Men tend to think that women are being favoured. But being a woman means having a lower wage than men, when having the same job. Being a woman means being an object of lust. Because when women dress up, they’re asking for attention. They’re asking to be raped. Because whatever you do, women are always wrong. When they’re being kind, they’re instantly flirting with you. And if they aren’t single they’re instantly a ‘slut’. When they’re not being kind, they’re a ‘bitch’. When they don’t want to go out with you, they’re arrogant. When they don’t they’re easy. And so on.

I am practically an adult. I am allowed to drive, to drink alcohol and to go to clubs. And even though I am an adult, I have never been in love. I have never had a boyfriend, a date or even a kiss. And when I get asked about these topics, that’s what I tell them. And then I’ll get told my time will come, to be patient and not to worry, that I’m probably just a late bloomer and that there’s nothing wrong with me. Or it’s been thought that I am asexual, when neither is the case. I am not looking for a man. I am not waiting or hoping. My world does not revolve around men. As a woman, you are expected to want to be in a relationship, because women are not supposed to function without men but supposed to depend on them. As a woman, you are expected to want to have children. As a woman, you are expected to be elegant and feminine. As a woman, you are expected to want to get married. Just like as a little girl you are ought to dream of wearing that white dress and walking down the aisle with your father by your side, walking towards your new and better life, the life you have always been destined to have. Just like as a little girl you are ought to dream of being someone princess when boys never dream about being someone’s prince.

Just like as a man, you are expected to be strong. As a man, you are expected to be independent. As a man, you are expected to be decisive. You are not allowed to be looking for love. You are not allowed to be emotional or have any feelings at all.

And when you do not live up to these expectations, there is no part for you in society. You are banned and never to return. You do not belong anywhere but with the misfits. You will be made fun of. You will be called names.

Feminism and gender equality is just as much about men as it is about women. It is about their mother. About their sister. About their partner and about their daughter.           

Because as much as we like to think of human kind to be developed. As much as we like to think of our western countries as the best, with our democracy and human rights, we still live in a world of prejudices and stereotypes. We are all being generalized. We are still stuck with this idea that men and women are ought to be opposites. We still follow our primitive instincts, like we did thousands and thousands of years ago. Where the man has to be the head of the tribe, the hunter. Where the man has to deny having any feelings whatsoever. And where the woman has to be a breeding machine. Where the woman has to care about everyone but herself. Where the woman is supposed to be subservient to men, where the woman is made to fulfil the man’s wishes instead of her own. Where the woman is not allowed not to be happy with settling down and having a family.

And yes, since the first and second feministic waves, our rights have expanded. Our lives have improved. As a little girl, I was told to be lucky to go to school. Because in the world, I was one of the few to have this privilege. I was born in one of the few countries that has fought for women’s rights. In one of the few countries where feminism has made it’s point. But we are nowhere near the goal.

With the introduction of the Internet, the technology and social media, it has become much easier for a voice to be heard. For an opinion to be spread. Just as it has become much easier to be against those voices and opinions, I for example have had comments saying I must be a girl, overreacting, complaining, being weak, sensitive and emotional. Because of its anonymity, it has become much easier to comment negatively. To insult and assault, just for being female. To show your true colours.

The Battle of the Sexes is ongoing and it’s not leading anywhere. Who’s life is harder? Female, having periods and babies, or male? And the answer tends to always be the same. Men think their life’s harder and women think theirs is. But the thing is, both of our lives are. And instead of fighting one another who should be fighting as one and join forces. Together we have conquered so much. We should be thinking about how we are alike, instead of how we are not. We should look at our similarities instead of our differences and together make the world a better place. Because feminism and gender equality affects the both of us.

Because to me, feminism isn’t about not wanting a man in my life, it’s not about not wanting children. Equality, in whatever shape or form, is about being able to make you own choices. It is not about the decisions you make, but the fact that you and you alone can make those decisions. To have the same rights as anyone, in order to be in control of you own life. Because I think being anti-feminism, like racism, is a form of discrimination. I think there’s no difference between women’s rights and human rights. Because I think that we should look at the human race as equal, whether you are rich or poor, black or white, male or female.


untitled by andreea preda on Flickr.

Eve Arnold Art Class