Am I not a feminist? Well no of course not, 93% of Britons would answer. Why preach for something that we don’t need right? Votes for women? We have it. Female politicians and leaders? We have them. Countless feminist t-shirts everywhere you look? Have that too. So…what’s the problem?
Let’s take the word feminist. Feminine. Female. A single gender. The word does, to a certain extent connote ideas of alienation and power to women rather than both sexes. But we have to look past this. The female root of the noun seems to be dominating a once very powerful word with significant history and unity behind it. The true meaning is lost. Forgotten and left in the past. So no wonder so many of us don’t identify with feminism.
So then, what exactly, is a feminist? According to 1970’s novelist and activist, Chimamande Ngozi Achidi, “A feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.” She took the arguably deceiving title and gave it new meaning. She stripped it down to its core and showed us what it really is all about equality and empowerment of both sexes. Undoubtedly that’s what we all want. For men and women to succeed together politically, economically and socially. Men and women to be able to act in the same way without question. And men and women and anyone else, to be whomever they want to be and to have the limitless entitlement to act in whatever way makes them happy.
It’s funny isn’t it; an idea that was created in order to bring everyone together into political and social equality has gradually come to provide us with disagreement, judgement and battle? We all want to live harmoniously, in a world where every one of us has the opportunity to strive for great things without any part of our identity getting in the way. So why is it, that feminism isn’t pushed forward and endorsed by all? Racial prejudice, homophobia and countless other social inequalities are being tackled daily but for some reason it is the battling against gender inequality that is widely criticised.
So let me now ask you. Are we all not feminists? Ask yourself? Am I not a feminist? Because over the time that years and decades have passed, the true meaning has been blurred by society. By bad media representation which has demonised the very notion. By pop culture which has arguably reduced the seriousness of the matter. And by ourselves, because we have come to forget how we got to where we are now. We have forgotten that during the civil rights movement, women stood up against all odds to give a voice to female and male rape victims so that today we can too feel more confident and comfortable to tackle such issues. We have forgotten that women in the 1900’s fought for suffrage for their right to vote. For our right to vote. They lost family and some lost their lives so that today everyone can cast their vote and involve themselves in politics. They fought against sexual assault and they fought against rape culture. They helped women break out of the household and into work. They opened doors to endless new educational opportunities, not only for women, but for men too.
But, did they win the battle? No.
There are still ongoing sexual assaults. In colleges it happens to one in 5 women and one in 16 for men. Issues of rape are still considerably high. 95% of the victims being women. Approximately 85 hundred women and 12 hundred men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes every hour. The number of women MP’S may be at the highest it’s ever been but they only actually make up 29% of parliament. So while we have come along long way, we still have an ongoing battle against inequality to fight for. Not just for women now. For the civil rights activists. For the suffragettes. For everyone who has risked or lost their life to the cause. To do justice to every speech made. To do justice to everyone who has spoken out about their experiences. For all of the lives lost, to all of the lives that haven’t started yet. For a better future for ourselves, for a better future for ongoing generations
So for a final time… ask yourself. Am I not a feminist? The answer is quite simple really. Whether you are a female or not. Whether you possess that one extra gene that forcibly splits you into one of the two groups. Maybe I should rephrase the question. Do you want equality and increased representation and end to victimising and gender stereotyping in the world? Do you want everyone to be able to reach their potential in the workplace, and to have their beliefs accounted for in parliament if they so wish? If you answered yes to any of these questions, like me and countless martyrs, iconic voices, and our role models of the past, you are too a feminist.