Growing up, all the girls I knew wanted to marry a prince. I always joked I wanted to marry a prime minister. The prime minister held all the power, not the prince. I thought through him I could change some of the terrible things that filled our world.
As I grew up, my mindset changed. I didn’t want to marry a prime minister anymore. I just wanted the same platform as a man with power.
I soon realized I would never be able to have the same influence as a powerful man in the current condition of our society and maintain the lifestyle I wanted to live. I dreamed of getting married, but I also dreamed of having a career with great influence.
I started to comprehend the terrible circumstances that surrounded young girls around the world, and it horrified me. I saw news stories of honor killings, body mutilation, and forced marriage. I also saw lack of opportunities and education available to women across the world.
I decided I was a feminist in junior high, but I didn’t realize until much later my efforts for gender equality reached closer to home than I knew. I was told by best friends I would never get a boyfriend with my mindset because such a strong personality wasn’t attractive to men.
I have always wondered if that statement was true. Sometimes I believe it is. I am a feminist, but I do not hate men. So why are feminists labeled as man-hating, victim perpetuating women with a vendetta against all things feminine? It is because of the way society and media teach women to behave.
Men are taught to be strong and empowered. Women are taught to follow after these powerful men in hopes of catching their eye. We are taught to be meek, gentle and the caretaker of the family. When a woman breaks away from these lessons, they aren’t “feminine.”
Well, I am a feminist, and I am what society would label as “feminine” on the outside. I love pink probably more than any human should. I long for romance, and I adore glitter. I even sing loudly to old Britney Spears songs, but I don’t believe these characteristics make me more “feminine” than a girl who doesn’t enjoy these things. By definition, feminine simply means “pertaining to the female sex.”
I believe the media has filled our head with lies about what being a feminist and femininity look like. When the average person thinks about a feminist, they picture radicals burning bras and holding protest signs. In reality, the face of feminism is much more unique and beautiful. We are people of different circumstances united by one cause: equality for all.
I see the terrible things that happen to women around the world and watch in horror as my newsfeeds on Facebook and Twitter are filled with articles against feminism posted by women my age. The articles claim feminists are trying to replace men, but I have never met a feminist who wants to replace men in society.
Every feminist I have met longs for gender equality, equal pay and proper treatment of all individuals. If I asked a woman if she wanted equal pay and opportunities, I’m positive she would say yes. For this reason, I question why many women are so resistant to the idea of labeling themselves a “feminist.”
I’ve come to the conclusion that women are afraid to call themselves feminists because the word is given a negative connotation. We have to stop being afraid of what the world thinks and start asking ourselves what the world needs.
The world does not need any more submissive women. It does not need more women who wait their entire lives for a husband. The world needs women who are passionate, educated, freethinking, and caring individuals.
According to US Census Data collected in 2013, women are still paid 78 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts. As the education level goes up, the gap in pay grows even further.
As a woman currently pursing a bachelor’s degree and hoping to pursue a career in law, I find these statistics frightening. I am expected to go to the same classes as my male counterparts, strive for the best grades and apply to the same law schools after I graduate. I am expected to do all of these things while also finding a husband, getting married and raising children.
I am expected to strive for perfection, but I am told by the wage gap I will never reach the same quality of work as my male counterparts. I do not want women to replace men in the workforce. I simply believe women should be given the same opportunities as males.
Feminists are not angry or bitter people. We are people who are disappointed with the world around us and lobby for change. So don’t be afraid to label yourself a feminist. If you believe in equal opportunities for male and female citizens then you already are a feminist. I also invite men to this movement as gender inequality not only affects your mothers, sisters, future wives and children, it also affects you.
As for me, I am not waiting on a prince or a prime minister anymore. I am waiting for the moment when all women can unabashedly exclaim they are worth more than what the media tells them.