The ‘F’ Word

“Manners maketh man”, but what is woman?

I’m sure you would have guessed, but I should probably put it straight out there that I am a feminist.

I believe in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

‘Equality’ implies that it’s a two-way street; or a multi-lane freeway to be more exact. Feminism is about helping women express themselves the way they wish without being judged for every decision they make. And because feminism is about equality between the sexes, it therefore also means that men should be able to express themselves the way they wish without being judged for every decision they make. The interesting thing is where these two apparently ‘diverge’.

Women, who have been constantly told what to do and how they should act for centuries in many societies strive to be able to be heard and to act in ways that they have always been told were ‘unfeminine’. We were raised with sayings like “don’t throw like a girl” and assumed to be weaker purely because we were female. We were told that we had to be sexy to be attractive, but we’re chastised for wanting to appear more beautiful. We’ve had to navigate false dichotomies through almost all the milestones in our life; tomboy or girly girl, nerd or cheerleader (seriously, no jocks for us???), Madonna or whore, mother or businesswoman. It’s like being female gives you an instant handicap in the race of life. So, for us, feminism is about discarding those assumptions and taking back what it means to be a female, in all of its entirety.

For males, who have (to be fair) also been told how to act throughout the ages, the times and societies have been a bit ‘kinder’ (relatively) to them. Males used to make up all the rules. They laid down the law, they brought in the livelihood, they protected the family. But even amidst all that, somehow, they forgot to put in the rule about being able to express their emotions openly and to be able to have enough trust in those around them to show their vulnerability. It’s a tough job carrying a family’s livelihood one’s shoulder, and yet males weren’t allowed to stumble or show weakness? That seems pretty harsh to me. Feminism for men is about acknowledging that sayings like “you cry like a little girl” should not be considered insults. It’s about knowing how to be your own person, before being your own ‘man’.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like those two sides of the story sound kind of similar. Feminism is about breaking down barriers. It’s about opening up dialogue. It’s about respect. And it’s about trust. It’s all about saying, “look, your problems look like my problems, and we can help each other out”.

I believe in intersectional feminism, because no matter what your race, or chosen gender, everyone should have equal rights and opportunities. I’m honestly still finding out more about it everyday, and I promise I am trying my best to learn more and more about the intersectional feminist movement, so I can understand its benefits for all.

And although feminism may not incorporate every single individual on the planet (or at least, it may not seem like it to some people), I believe it can still provide a safe haven for those feeling lost, trapped, or hidden by the hard rules of the patriarchy, (that most overbearing of archaic systems that have written far-too-rigid rules for everyone.) Well, time’s up, because it’s time for us to break the rules.

Feminism is a movement, and movements don’t last very long if they don’t keep marching forward. So the ‘definition’ of feminism has changed? So it should. So the fundamental ideas behind feminism have shifted for the new era? So they should.

Feminism is constantly moving forwards and evolving. After all, it is called a movement for a reason.


Song of the post: well, not a song, but a (now) famous TEDtalk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called ‘We Should All Be Feminists’, which expresses my points far better than I could ever hope to. Please watch it with an open mind, and at the very least, listen to what she has to say. It’s always a good thing to consider different people’s perspectives.

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