“I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time. It’d be stupid not be on my own side” – Maya Angelou
It would be stupid, Maya. Thank you for saying it, and so eloquently, too. If you are a woman (we’ll talk about the men later), you should identify yourself as a feminist. It wasn’t until recently that I realised there are still some that don’t. I can’t believe I have to say this in 2017, but you should be a feminist. You need to be a feminist.
With constant reminders, like the recent allegations of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults spanning over 30 years, I can’t help but think ‘how could you not be a feminist’? The list of women speaking out against him is growing by the day. These women, just trying to do something they loved (act, write, etc.), were forced to stay silent in fear that this powerful man would ruin their career if they spoke out. I don’t think I need to say that it’s already difficult enough for women in the workplace but sure, let’s add potential career-killing sexual abuse to the mix. The really unfortunate part is that I’m sure it’s not isolated to Hollywood.
So, why would any woman not consider herself a feminist? Does she not believe in equality? Or the right to control her own career? Lifestyle? Body? And then I heard a reason I hadn’t heard for quite a while (since I first started Uni in 2004 and every girl taking women’s studies was adamant that they were “not, like, a crazy feminist”).
Firstly, a male co-worker decided to explain feminism to me and a fellow female co-worker *facepalm*. He had been offered a vegan brownie by some lady standing outside a bakery with a tray of samples. He didn’t like it and told her why he could never be vegan. She obviously felt a little defensive (I can’t imagine why) and decided to tell him why she was vegan: one of the reasons she gave was because she was a feminist*.
He went on to explain to her, and now us, that women don’t like to use the f-word because it’s associated with man-haters and extremists. We both rolled our eyes before exclaiming “I’m a feminist” almost in unison. I’m sure I could see the smoke coming out of her ears. But a man who thinks feminists hate men? Well, that’s nothing new. Closed minded? Yes. New? No. What I wasn’t prepared for was our female manager agreeing with him. She validated everything he said, agreed with the stereotype of feminists. I could just see the picture in their minds of screaming women burning bras (we fucking needed those women, btw). Now, the manager is a strong, smart and hard-working woman (also younger than me so we can’t blame it on a ‘generational’ thing) who agreed with the principals of feminism (equality, equal opportunity, etc.), yet she didn’t want the title.
Saying you believe in equal rights but are not a feminist is in the same ballpark as “all lives matter“. Feminism isn’t about hating men or thinking we deserve more. It’s not about putting down other women, shaming them for what they wear (I’m looking at you Donna Karan) or judging them based on their lifestyle. It’s about equality. We only want to be treated equally, be given the same opportunities as men and the right to make choices about our bodies. But, we aren’t quite there yet and that’s why we still need to promote feminism. With or without the burning bras.
*If you are unfamiliar with why a feminist would be against the dairy industry, let me briefly explain: artificial insemination. This is basically the act of raping cows to get them pregnant so we can steal and kill their calves and keep the milk for ourselves for the sake of cheese. They may not be human, but no female should never have to endure this particularly cruel type of torture and cows endure it over and over.