What does the f-word mean and why we still need it
Understanding history from a female perspective is difficult. The white western male viewpoint was once accepted as the only viewpoint and, years later, we are still following its retrograde structure because well, it's just the way it is. But this way we have been following is one that is oppressive, discriminatory and, in the words of Amelia Jones, discouraging to all those, women among them, who did not have the good fortune to be born white, preferably middle class and, above all, male. The fault lies not in our stars, our hormones, our menstrual cycles, or our empty internal spaces, but in our institutions and our education. That's how we've ended up with history books full of white male protagonists fighting to become the most powerful and richest of them all. Today, we are living in a world where we are beginning to understand that men are not more capable, stronger or more intelligent than women, yet we continue to live within archaic structures that don't concur with these beliefs. We keep seeing most positions of power occupied by (white) men, most countries being led by (white) men, most stories starred and told by (white) men and continue to accept and overlook the little actions that perpetrate sexism (and racism) everyday. Though we have evolved a lot over the years, our ideas of gender equality are not changing fast enough. That's why we still need feminism and and why we need to rid it of all the negativity the term carries.
Feminism doesn't make people angry, inequality does. Feminism doesn't hate or exclude men, quite the opposite! It requires men to also challenge the way we actively and passively support the oppression of women. Fighting against the patriarchy, doesn't mean we want to abolish men, we want to end with a system of society in which men hold the power while women are excluded from it. Feminism is a‘belief that men and women should have equal rights, opportunities and most importantly, choices.' It's just one of the branches of equality, part of a larger consciousness of oppression along with racism, ageism, classism or homophobia. That's it. It still baffles me that something so fundamentally obvious, could be fought against or misinterpreted so often, confusing people and derailing the core issue. Feminism is about each one of us taking control of our lives, our bodies, and our freedom. It's not exclusively female, gender inequality a complex problem that needs to be collectively addressed so that we can all become better humans, and most men don't realize how much they need this in their lives as well, to be freed from the sexist expectations of their gender.
I hear a lot of people complain about this new wave of feminism. People are annoyed with women being loud. Isn't the job done? I mean, we can vote, get an education and show our ankles now. Shouldn't we be satisfied? What else do we want? Well, one day we will (hopefully) attain equality, one that will create an environment that will allow us to stop looking and talking about gender. But today sexism is so deeply embedded in our society that we need to be loud and continue to fight. We need to change the structures that support an outdated misogynistic and patriarchal point of view.
Male and female are not opposites, contrary to what we've been taught. Men are not all masculine and women are not all feminine and these qualities aren't necessarily related with our biology. We all have a little bit of both. We all come with a set of strengths and weaknesses, regardless of gender, and instead of competing, we should strive to find ways to complement each other. Both men and women have been taught to be fit in a mold that doesn't suit all of us. And when we don't correspond with it, to be ashamed and silent. Everyday, we swim in an ocean of images reminding us of those stereotyped and simplified roles. That's why one of the most complicated relationships we all have is with ourselves, accepting every part of us, our desires, our sexuality, our looks and quirks. We need to end with these unrealistic guidelines for success and fulfillment and instead celebrate individuality and acceptance.
For those of us living in privileged bubbles, it sometimes is hard to see how gender inequality affects us all collectively. It's easy to rest in the comfort of our world and oversee the little things that continue to perpetrate a sexist behavior. I hate feeling scared, angry and powerless each time I'm undressed by a passerby, each time I get unsolicited inappropriate comments from strangers, each time I'm insulted for having curves or honked at just for having boobs. I'm tired of these micro aggressions. We need to advocate and fight for women's rights, particularly education, for ourselves, for future generations and for those of us in countries where women are denied even the most basic rights, still being tortured, killed, raped and disregarded for being themselves. We privileged people need to fight harder for the ones who can't.
Schools teach children maths, but not to understand social equality. They teach biology, but fail to address sexual identity. They teach us how to read and write, but not how to communicate with one another. When are we going to start teaching them to be kind, respectful and vulnerable? What about courage, emotional intelligence and creativity? Aren't those just as important aspects of our lives? Those are qualities that define our relationships, romantic, friendly or familiar. The educational system lacks humanity and individuality. How can we expect change when the core of our education is based on competition and our ability to memorize, instead of analyze?
Today, instead of congratulating women, I urge you to go read about feminism, write about the issue, take some time to think and understand what equality means. Participate in the discussion, ask questions and try to understand it better. I encourage you to support inclusive art, because it's often one of the best ways to communicate and exchange ideas peacefully. Look for the voices and eyes that are showing what's fundamentally and realistically beautiful about all of us and share it with the people around you. Every single one of us is scared and repressed in one way or another, male and female and that's why feminism is important, as much for women as it is for men. Let's break the barriers of gender, allow yourself and the ones around you to simply be without feeling the need to follow a pattern. And don't forget to also take a moment to congratulate yourself for being you, love your body with all its flaws, love yourself with all of the aspects that you still feel need improvement. Be proud of yourself.
Today we march to show that we are united, that we are powerful, that we are strong and that we deserve equity. We need to march to keep the conversation alive, to make people stop and if only for a few minutes, think about the issue so that this world that’s still rife with misogyny and discrimination will change.