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I am a Feminist

Before some of you start rolling your eyes, you should actually understand what feminism is about. Too many people repeat what others say about it, without actually trying to have a conversation on the matter. Feminism is about equality. It isn’t about the superiority of women, or revenge on men, it is about equality, entirely. I’m sure you’re dying to mention this feminist girl you know, or heard of, who is full of anger towards men and wants to dominate them, but that isn’t feminism. Actual feminists do not agree with that. I often get called extreme because of my opinions, but what’s extreme about wanting equality?

I started experiencing sexism at a young age: in my primary school, girls weren’t allowed to play football simply because boys automatically thought that we weren’t any good and that we would bring the team down. If we were determined to play, we had to pay the captain of the team with snacks. This was a process that only lasted until my teacher heard about it and it was stopped. Once we were forcibly accepted into the teams, we had to prove ourselves twice as much as the boys so that we wouldn’t be kicked out by our male classmates. Later on, in high school, I was the victim of slut shaming, just because I had gone with a boy at a party; this then became the start of rumours and an overall ruin of my ‘reputation’. What was said about the boy? Absolutely nothing. It’s always easier to criticise the girl, instead of minding your own business.

At my first job, at 18 years old, I and the other girls were sexualised by my 50+ year-old boss, and it unfortunately became quite normal. I now work in a bar, as a bartender, and a couple times when this information comes up in conversation with strangers, they (men every time) assume that I work as the girl outside giving flyers. Is that an assumption that would be made on men? Certainly not.

I have female friends who have been told by their university professors that they wouldn’t achieve anything in life because they are women. When I and one other female friend are in a group of majoritarily men, we often get ignored by their male friends. And sadly, the list goes on. Sexism is something that we experience in our everyday life, whether we notice it or not. Some of it is so frequent and we don’t even realise that it shouldn’t be this way.

Based on conversations I’ve had with some men, several believe that we have achieved equality, and honestly I’m always baffled by it. It may seem like we’re close to achieving it on paper (for some countries) but we’re far from it in our everyday life. We still have stereotypes and prejudice when it comes to men and especially women that need to change. That’s also the case with language: I can only say for French and English, but I bet it’s similar in other languages too. We use sentences such as “grow a pair”, “you throw like a girl”, or “he cried like a little girl” as if the only way to be brave is to be like a man, and that being compared to a girl is a humiliating insult. The fact that we’re used to saying or hearing these things doesn’t mean that we can’t change them. Be aware of what king of language you hear and use, and do your best in trying to improve it.  

Men have a key role in us achieving equality. Women can stick together and help one another, but we also need men on our side. So, dear men: when a woman (or anyone really) mentions the inequality they are facing, or calls you out on something offensive/stereotypical you might’ve said, please listen. Don’t get all defensive and accuse us of twisting your words or playing the victim; listen to us. Ask us why we feel offended and try to understand. And yes, I know, men can also experience sexism and inequality, but that doesn’t mean you get to ignore what we go through.

All we want is a world where we get to live in harmony, not worrying about how our potential differences can divide us but instead bring us closer together. No one is better or superior than anyone, so we should stop pretending like that’s the case. Be open to your friends’ and family’s stories, and listen. It’s by acknowledging and speaking out for the inequalities around us and in our own lives that things will actually start to change for the better.

Thank you for reading. Peace


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