"Shh... Don't Call Yourself That"
By Alexia Hammal, Université de Montréal
I am a FEMINIST. 1 word, 8 letters, and a whole lot of backlash.
There is an epidemic going on about why women shouldn’t say they’re feminists and how taboo all of this is. Entonces, I decided to write about why I am a feminist in our generation and what it means to me. Maybe, just maybe, will I change some mindsets.
So here I go, “shit” is gonna get real’ personal, real’ quick:
I believe my feminist side emerged when I was in elementary school, probably around the second grade. I clearly remember taking French classes and learning all about its complicated grammar. There was this one rule that really struck me: « le masculin le remporte toujours ». Basically, in any case, if you have the presence of one male (or one masculine word), everything is automatically going to be conjugated according to it. In a nutshell:
You could be writing about 99 amazing and strong women, but that 1 man you mention in the bunch will determine how you conjugate the words …
If this little stupid example doesn’t prove to you that woman are second class citizens in our society, I don’t know what will… Don’t get me wrong, I won’t cry about this or try to revolve the world around correcting this system and making it politically correct, which seems to be a trend nowadays. I just want you, dear reader, to reflect on this.
I come from a family where the words powerful, confident, strong, beautiful, and remarkable are understatements when describing the women I’m proud to be related to. Whether they are teachers, writers, artists, stay-at-home moms, or simply an office worker, the thought of knowing that they could be paid less than a man for the same job/position just kills me inside.
YES. In the real world, in 2016, women still get paid less than men. Have we reached equity? No. BAM, there you have it, a real cause to fight for as feminist. You know… since feminism is a movement for gender equality. In case you have trouble understanding this, it means that feminism advocates for both women’s rights and men’s rights. That’s what gender equality signifies. It’s not some type of movement that believes that women are better than man. No, no and NO.
FEMINISM DOESN’T MEAN RADICALISM. If you don’t want to call yourself a feminist because you don’t think it’s an appealing image in our society through men’s eyes, you’re just putting their perceptions before your rights. Priorities?
Yes, we see women on the news fighting for their rights by removing their bras, their shoes, their shirts, everything! That doesn’t mean it represents all that feminism is… In every aspect of life, there is something called extremes. And being a feminist is all about empowering women and getting to the place we well deserve in society.
Feminism doesn’t just fight for pay equity and gender equality. Feminism gives a voice to women in important and major issues, where most of the main actors are white, rich patriarchal men who think they rule the world. The Pink Bloque from Chicago is just one of the many examples! They occupy public places and dance in the street in order to get recognition during certain events. They even fought for peace in the Middle East and for American lives, trying to put pressure on the government to stop the war in Iraq.
Men and women have different ways of seeing things. Giving a voice to women could make a change in this world.
I always noticed how a woman’s or girl’s beauty was so important in our society. I have nothing against makeup besides the fact that I don’t like wearing it.
What I am against is how women are constantly judged by their looks. As a woman, I could get something because of my boobs and vagina, and my looks. As a woman, I could also be refused something because of the same things.
Exhibit A: women will get into clubs depending on how much skin they show by their outfits, and how sexy they look. Long straight hair? Tanned? Huge-ass-heels-that-could-kill? Itsy-bitsy skirt? Big boobies? Lashes as long as your hair? There you have it, your free pass into a club filled with guys, where a percentage of them will most definitely make you uncomfortable (by randomly grabbing your ass, following you everywhere, etc.). BUT HEY! You can’t complain right? By dressing up (even if you’re not as intense as I described) like this, you asked for it. It’s not the guy’s fault you’re too damn hot right? Yeah… right…
Exhibit B: In gym class, if you have ever played with a ball, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If during puberty you looked very close to flawless, and you asked for the ball after someone who was going through puberty harder asked for it, can you guess who got the ball? Even if the guy didn’t have a crush on the “pretty girl”, he still gave her the ball because that’s just how it is. Pretty girls get what they want. But pretty girls also have a hard time getting taken seriously.
I don’t want to obtain something because of my beauty, or not get what I worked for because I’m not considered physically appealing to someone. Not everything is about beauty and it isn’t fair that women are constantly judged by their appearance in our society.
Feminism is about giving women more than just their appearance to represent who they are.
I’m a feminist because:
- I don’t believe it is okay to have to work harder than men and obtain only half of what they get.
- I’m don’t want to be scared to denounce harassment and be called overdramatic for it.
- I don’t want to walk on the streets and be whistled at, and be told “HEY SEXY” at 8 in the morning by a passing car like I’m a piece of meat just because I have curves.
- I don’t want to restrain myself from being alone after dark in a public place, in case a guy “can’t keep it in his pants”. And that, whatever happens, was because “I asked for it”.
- I don’t want to be in a “pickle” one day and have to choose between keeping a baby and giving him/her up for adoption without having the right to choose abortion. I completely understand the pro-life positions, and I agree on most of them but at the end of the day the choice about whether keep, giveaway, or end my pregnancy should be up to me and only me [and my partner]. Whether I abort or not, it should still be an option. Men don’t get what it means being pregnant, why would they get the right to choose whether or not it should be legal?
- I don’t want to be refused a high-scaled position because I am a woman, and I have ‘that time of the month’ 12 times a year which makes me quite hormonal, but complete year-long dickheads can get that position because they don’t have periods. [I’M GIVING AN EXAMPLE. DON’T THINK THAT I BELIEVE ALL HIGH-POSITIONED MEN ARE DICKHEADS. I have no problem with a man getting where he is by hard work.]
- I don’t want to be mocked when I say I want to have it all, or almost all.
- Shonda Rhimes once said in an interview that people get frustrated when she calls herself a writer before saying she’s a mother. I don’t understand why it’s not okay for a woman to say that, but it’s okay for a man to say “Hi, I’m Bob and I’m a lawyer” instead of saying “Hi, I’m Bob and I’m a father”. Double-standard much?
- I believe in equal rights. Women should have the same opportunities as men. ENOUGH SAID.
I have a lot of admiration for the women before me who have made this place so much easier and safer to live in than it used to be. Just look at all the women in school! Amazing.
I have a lot of admiration for all the men who fight as feminists in order to break the glass ceilings with us. A teacher of mine once said in class that one of the main problems for women’s integrity in our societies are women themselves. We lack compassion and kindness. Some women would rather mock and reject a woman they believe is “beneath” them due to her color, social class or sexual orientation, than help her make something of herself. It is so hard for some women to “make it” out there that they think they need to bring other women down on the way to the top. It’s not okay. Feminism starts with women. So please. Stop. Stop the hatred. Stop degrading others. Stop mocking them. Stop trying to keep the spotlight for you. Stop saying you’d never want to be a feminist. Feminism is the reason you get to have an education, the reason your voice matters during elections, and the reason why one day, you’ll get the same pay a man would get for the same job.
PS: it’s called FEMINISM because dans la réalité, les faits démontrent que, generally speaking, women have it harder than men.
Being a humanist is not too far from being a feminist, but it doesn’t have the same meaning.
Being a humanist doesn’t mean you can’t be a feminist too.