Why I’m a feminist (and you should be, too).

You don’t have to burn that £40 VS bra. 

It’s a crisp autumn evening in 2017. I’m walking towards a blog event. I’m wearing a relatively short skirt (but most skirts are short on me due to my longer legs) and black heeled boots. It’s dark outside and I’m walking as quickly as I can. I walk past a bar, and notice a group of guys, I walk a bit faster. They shout after me ‘she definitely wants the dick’. I blame myself because I’m wearing a short skirt. I am terrified to walk back that way on my own, and I have to walk back with a friend.

I am having a conversation with friends about the amount of sexual assaults. They all then start to discuss their experiences of harassment and sexual assault. All of us have faced something, and it is terrifying.

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I am 13. Some boys tease me in class about my vagina and how disgusting I must be. They make me cry. Other girls and boys laugh about it. They don’t understand the propensity of what they say. They make me feel like I am failing, like I will never be pretty enough. They make me embarrassed of my own body.

I am 13. I start my period. I don’t know what to do, I’m told it is constantly taboo to even mention it. I will come to feel like my body is disgusting in years to come. Boys will make me feel like it is something to fear. They will make me feel like I cannot be touched for 5 days of the month. They will make me feel like my period is my fault. People will use my period against me. They will ask me if I’m on my period when I’m in a bad mood. They will believe I can’t have emotions like everyone else. I am irrational.

I am 21 when a male discloses something that he believes to be sexual assault. The girls all around me laugh at how funny they find it. His friends laugh as well at it. I feel uncomfortable in this situation. How is any of this funny?

Through my teenage life, I am made to feel like everything is a competition. Girls are constantly pitted against each other. Who is pretty? Who is better? Girls who have sex are called slags and girls who don’t are called prudes. There is no in between. You are a slag or a prude. When a girl loses her virginity (social construct, but to be discussed another day) they are called all kinds of names. The guy loses his virginity, and is congratulated on how many girls he sleeps with.

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I am 18 when something happens that changes my life. I decide from then on that everything we believe is acceptable, isn’t. From that age, I start to see how much of my life has been controlled by the sex I was born. Everything you are taught differs by whether you are born male or female. I was raised with the excuse of ‘boys will be boys’. I grow up with perceptions that have been altered due to the fact I am female. I have been raised differently to my brother. I know to not speak out when a man is speaking. I know to keep my mouth shut on things I don’t understand. Teachers have taught girls to keep their legs closed, and how we can only fit into certain careers.

I have been laughed at when I got things wrong, and made to feel small. I have been told that when I am arguing my cause I am loud mouthed, and emotional. I have been made to feel that I cannot achieve things because I am female. My sex will give me a boost in my chosen career because I’m ‘pretty’… not because I have brains.

When I am 18, I am given a rape alarm. Through my life, I have been told how to avoid the men who could rape me. I am taught to never talk to strangers. I am only to walk home if a man accompanies me. I am to never be alone.

I could continue to list the things that many females and males face in todays society, but I think I’ve proved my point pretty well with so many examples.

So, why are you a feminist? I am a feminist for a variety of reasons, and I have decided to be less ashamed of it in the past couple of months. I have constantly been told that being a feminist is a terrible thing, and we’re all just complaining about nothing. I am a feminist for the very simple reason that I believe in equality for everyone. There are a few things that have happened in my life (see above) and I decided enough was enough. You have to speak out about things, you have to talk about things, because that is the only way that change will come about. I have faced so many things and heard of so many things that shouldn’t be happening, and each issue has to be dealt with.

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So, why call it feminism? Feminism is the idea that it is a movement to empower and create equality for women, but along the way it helps men with certain issues in society, such as male suicide, toxic masculinity and abuse.

But, what about the ‘more important’ issues of equality all over the world? I am not a believer in exclusive white feminism- obviously. I understand I am fairly privileged for a woman, and I have a platform where I can actually discuss issues impacting equality all over the world, and talk about things that matter and the bigger picture. Feminism isn’t just about the half the things I’ve mentioned, there is still a lot that can be changed. However, we can only focus on one thing at a time, and there is a lot to be tackled. Though, the same issues can still be felt all over the world. There may be a 14 year old who is being abused in India who can’t speak out. There may be a 14 year old in London who is being abused in London who can’t speak out. I guess I’m trying to say that there are lots of things, but just because we live in a country that seems to have equality, doesn’t mean there is. Take a look at the statistics during the England matches in the World Cup. How is any of that okay?

… Why should I be a feminist? Or even consider feminism something I should look into? Feminism is a scary word to so many people, and there are many reasons for this. I wrote a post about this not so long ago and you can go read it here.  I am not saying you have to be a feminist, and I am in no way shoving my views down your throat. I am giving you the facts, I am telling you what feminism stands for and I am letting you make your own decisions. Feminism has made me feel like I can have a sex life and not feel disgusting for it. Feminism has opened my eyes to so many different things that are happening around the world. It is a pretty big part of my life.

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What if I don’t believe in things that other feminists do? Feminism is different for everyone. I may not agree with other things that my feminist friends do, but that isn’t a bad thing. Feminism isn’t limited to one thing, and it isn’t exclusive of people just because they have differing views. As long as your fighting for equality, and working towards a more equal world, then you’re a feminist. Clear and cut.

Do I have to burn my bra? I, for one, am a fan of the bras. Sometimes I want to rip my boobs off because they hurt so much, but will I shell out £40 for a cute little bra from Victoria’s Secret? You bet ya.

 

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