What feminism means to me

“The most disrespected woman in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman”. – Malcolm X

Pretty deep way to begin the blog post right? Now, you might be wondering, why on earth is she using an American Quote, she’s not even American. That is another conversation about the visibility of the Black woman in Britain so I shan’t talk about that right now because this isn’t a political blog (believe it or not).

 

However, I decided to use this quote because I cannot talk about what feminism means to me from any other angle other than that of the Black Woman. First of all, if you don’t know what feminism is, it is the simple doctrine that all genders should be equal. Some people still struggle with the concept that races should be equal, so when you introduce the issue of gender equality, their heads literally spin-off its axis and into the abyss. As a Black woman , you can see why this issue doubly affects me.

Honestly, Feminism is a topic that is almost always on my mind but I decided to address it in a small way today because of some of the comments I’ve seen regarding Meghan Markle and her marriage to Prince Harry (and also because of this lovely t-shirt that I bought). Some people claim that she cannot be a real feminist because she gave up her acting career and social media for this marriage. First of all, the people who say this clearly don’t understand feminism because it is all about choice. It means that women should be able to make the same choices that a man would be able to without criticism. The only reason that Meghan’s marriage would have been anti feminist would have been if she were forced into it. However, she was not and frankly I think it is insulting to imply that a grown, succesful woman does not know what she’s doing in choosing a partner. I strongly believe that if Meghan Markle were a man, she (he) would have been lauded for giving up his career just for love. Therein lies the problem; there is this need that society has to always make the woman’s choice seem lesser and that is a very annoying issue for me.The truth is, The Duchess of Sussex might have given up one career, but she has equally taken up another ( a more challenging one , in my opinion). Having said that, even if this wasn’t her and it was another woman who chose to give up her career to stay barefoot and pregnant, as long as that was her choice, it would be okay too.

 

People need to stop belittling feminism and making it about tired subjects like who splits the bill on a first date and who washes the dishes in the house (not that these aren’t valid learning points too) but we need to concentrate on the fact that misogyny and the Patriarchy are literally killing people. Imagine not being able to choose your partner because you’re a woman, then not being able to  run away from a toxic relationship because no one will rent a flat to a single woman. Try going to a different country with your child then , but you can’t because you need the father’s permission on their passport because  a mother just isn’t parent enough. I know a lot of you reading this can’t relate because we’re privileged enough to live in a country where the patriarchy has evolved and pretends to be benevolent. However, this is the reality of many women and I just thought I’d share it for those of you who have no idea. In that sense, Feminism to me is literally the difference between life and death for a woman.

With regards to other important issues like economics, we should be able to earn the same pay as our male counterparts for doing the same job in the same way. There are so many things that have gone on in the past that should not be tolerated any more and the gender pay gap is one of them. I guess, this is one of the things that makes blogging as  a career so wonderful ( for those who do it fulltime).  It is one of the only industries (if not THE only)  in which women are truly paid what they’re worth and it makes me so proud to be a part of this industry (albeit a very tiny part of it).I hope that one day soon, we will be rid of the gender pay gap once and for all.

Feminism challenges the notion that women are one-dimensional and instead shows that we are multifaceted human beings, just like men are (supposedly) and should be treated as such. Feminism fights for the freedom to walk down a street without the fear of being attacked by a man just because of her clothes. It exists so that future generations of females will not have a panic attack when a man walks behind them on a street, it exists so that my heart stops pounding out of my chest when I have to walk past a group of men, praying that none of them decide that they want to talk to me. It exists so that I don’t have to pretend to be on the phone to my boyfriend when i’m alone in a lift with a strange man. It exists so that men realise that we are not property, to be owned or bent to their will. It exists so that if a story of sexual assault is told, it will be the exception and not the rule.

In some parts of the world, 9 out of 10 women in a room have been assaulted by a man in some way, shape or form. It is taken  as one of those things that happens when you are a woman. How is that not madness? In a world where these things are normal occurrences, it boggles my mind that some women refuse to identify as feminists. I mean, feminism is all about choice so it is  not by force to be one but why would you not want to be? We should not have to live our lives forever biting our tongues for fear that the boy we fancy won’t fancy us anymore.     “Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.”  ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Of course, there is a lot of change to be made by men but there is definitely  a lot of change to be made by women too.We need to stop being the gatekeepers of Patriarchy.  Don’t laugh when your boyfriend calls another woman a bitch or crazy or a slut because you are only perpetuating the problem. Don’t teach your brother that it’s okay to be a player and that certain girls are not ‘wifey’ material because of their sexual liberation. If this is because of religious incompatibility, then that’s another story. However, if you’re teaching the men in your lives that it’s one rule for the goose, and another for the gander, then you really need to check yourselves. There are so many other reasons why feminism is important to me and it is not a topic that can be done justice in one blog post. However, my heart was just a little bit heavy so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you all. We need to empower one another and not put each other down. There are still things that we will get wrong and I will put my hand up and say that there are some beliefs I have which are probably not very feminist but as long as we are all willing to keep learning and trying and just treat each other like equal human beings, the world will be a much better place to live in.

Before I go, I will leave you with these words:  “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

Until next time, Ciao x

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