The F Word

Feminism: to achieve and establish political, economic, personal and social equality of the sexes. It is 2018 and feminism is still a dirty word. As someone who proudly identifies as a feminist, it baffles me how many of my peers are afraid to use the word to define themselves. Feminism and feminist are both words that have been tainted in the minds of the majority, because of a very successful media campaign against them that has been ongoing for centuries.

I think it's easy for many modern young women to forget how far we have come, only in the last few decades. The change that we have seen in British society has been monumental for women's rights. When your crotchety old neighbour snidely remarks that you have it easy as a woman in today's society compared to how it used to be, then they are right (though they didn't have to put it in such a rude way). We should be grateful for the work that past feminists have done for us. We generally experience less harassment at work; we do have the vote; many more of us are paid more than we would have; more women own land; more women successfully choose to have careers; there are more female politicians; women can now attend schools and universities. After so much has changed for the better because of the resilience of the women, the feminists, who came before us, how can feminism still be such a bad word? The tiny man-hating minority should not tar the names of the millions of women who have fought, and are fighting, for equality between the sexes, around the world. Feminism is not about women being on top but of people of all genders standing side by side on an equal footing.

The fight for equality has won many battles but the war is not over yet. Rape, wage inequality, sexual harassment, equal opportunities for women in work and in the home are just a few examples of where change is still needed to improve the lives of women. These issues are still present in the West today, and it's not acceptable. Even if you are a woman and think that you have it perfect where you live, think instead of the women all over the world who are forced into arranged marriages; banned from education and will never learn to read or write; who are forced into prostitution or slavery; who are forced to bear children for a husband they never loved; who work the same amount of hours, in the same job, as a man but will earn half as much. These women need their voices to be amplified, and they need to know that they have allies in us. We will fight for them and won't let them be forgotten.

Feminism is not burning bras, shunning femininity or hating men. It's not forcing your husband to stay at home while you go out to work, it's not beating up your son and it's not putting down other women for wearing make-up, being a mom or wearing a hijab. It is about giving everybody equal opportunities and choices about their lives, free from oppression and discrimination based on gender.

For feminism to truly no longer be needed, we need to make feminists of everyone: every woman, every man and every person who identifies as gender fluid. Feminism should unite people of every gender, colour, nationality, sexuality, body type. Feminism is not just beneficial to women, it aims to eliminate toxic masculinity, to make it easy for men to become stay at home dads, for people to identify as whatever gender they feel they are, to make families equal and fair. Feminism allows people to be judged by their individuality, not by their gender. I feel very passionately that every person is valuable and free to make their own choices, regardless of what gender they were assigned at birth. It's 2018 and I shouldn't have to identify as a feminist. We should all be feminists.

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