It took me a long time to realise I was a feminist, mostly because I always thought being a feminist meant burning my bra, shaving my head and becoming a lesbian. I used to quickly defend myself whenever I called out sexism and my guy friends called me a feminist. “I’m not like an actual feminist” I’d insist. God forbid, right?
One day, after I said this, a friend asked me “Why not, don’t you want equality for women?” I answered “Why, of course I do”. And then she said the most liberating thing to me. She said: “Then you are a feminist.”
See, the media always like to put up images of angry, negative, man-hating extremists that are nearly impossible to relate to, and then slap the “feminist” label on her. And even if women try to be feminists, an army of journalists are ready to pick her apart and point out all the ways she isn’t feminist enough: “Beyonce is too naked, too married, too pregnant, too sexy, to be a feminist.” Never mind the fact that she’s trying to sing about the unrealistic expectations of female bodies, look how short her skirt is! It’s no wonder girls have no idea what feminism even means anymore.
Feminists are depicted as “angry extremist” rather than “empowered woman”, women are picked apart and discouraged in feminist critiques, and girls like me are scared to call themselves ‘feminists’. We need to bring it back to basics.
I want to remind girls that being a feminist is easy and important and a positive thing. I do want girls to be feminists, and I would love for girls to be more informed about inequalities in our society and to actively pursue ways to change this. But above all, I want girls to support other girls, all girls, even if they aren’t feminists. I want to perpetuate this new kind of feminism that is inclusive, approachable and relateable. Because feminism is about supporting girls in whatever they choose to do. It’s about loving girls, and feeling proud of girls, and empowering girls, and being all “HEY YEAH, GIRLS RULE”. That’s it. That’s literally what this whole damn thing is about.
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