Today's Suffragettes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   If the phrase "Women's Liberation" makes you think of the late '60s and the '70s, then think again. The idea of women's liberation has been around for a long time, and it has continued to be important. This idea has been acted upon in other countries, such as England. In the 1800s, women called suffragettes struggled to gain their voting rights. Now, in 1992, women are coming together to break free of the roles society has created. Contrary to popular belief, the followers of the Women's Movement do not want to be men. It is just the opposite. They are proud to be women. One of the movement's basic ideas is to combine the "typical female qualities" and the "typical male qualities" into one set of jobs, virtues, and pastimes. Ideally, this group of facets would be openly acceptable to both sexes.

Another important idea is that every woman needs to feel comfortable with her body and sexuality. Neither of these things is shameful, and no woman who believes that this is true can have a healthy sense of being. One book that really helped me feel comfortable with these issues of feminine sexuality is Our Bodies, Our Selves. I urge you to check out the most recent edition. I found it both inspiring and educational. It may help young women feel more confident about stepping out of the role society has created for them.

When I say "role," I mean the way women are expected to please and depend on men, and act motherly, patient and agreeable. Women do not feel they shouldn't act in these ways, for some are positive. However, a woman should not feel that these things are required. Woman should have the option of doing things with her life other than "female" occupations. Yet society would lead them to believe that these are the only things a woman should do. Just picking up a magazine makes this very clear. Articles tell women what kinds of clothes will appeal to men. No woman should find it necessary to change her natural appearance to please or attract men. The advertisements seem to say, "If you look like this, then you will find a man and live happily ever after." Who says a woman needs a man to live "happily ever after"? Women can be strong and capable without male support, or without any support, for that matter! Marriage is not the only way to find happiness. Many women choose to have relationships with men, but this is not the only possibility for a satisfying life. Women can choose marriage, but must not feel that they are forced into it by society's expectations. And they can, and should take part in activities of value. But many "women's" magazines tell about shopping and make-up, and how to be pleasing to men.

This idea of women being silly and frivolous is taught early in life. Boy's Life, a magazine direced at young men, deals with ideas that are much more substantial and important in comparison to magazines directed at young women. This trend to depict males as being superior shows up in television and many other places. Because of what is seen in early childhood, many women grow up feeling trapped into a role of being passively sweet, mild and frivolous.

Although women are designed to reproduce, that is not their only function. Pregnancy is an option, not a requirement. And women should never put themselves in any kind of discomfort to please a man, including trying to change the shapes of their bodies. Women need to do what is comfortable and healthy for them. Women need to have control over their lives to be able to do this. They know what is best for them, and they should be able to decide.

It is up to the women of today to change ourselves and the world that helps shape who we are. In the words of Christobel Pankhurst (a suffragette of the late 1880s),

"Remember the dignity

of your womanhood.

Do not appeal

do not beg

do not grovel.

Take courage,

join hands,

stand beside us.

Fight with us ..." n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

SuffragettesRock. said...
May 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm
This is an important issue, i'm so glad you brought it up. Many people seem to refuse to believe women are still discriminated against when they are!Many women are treated like objects to be picked up and put down again when men feel like it. There are so many struggles women face it needs to be told to the world.
 
toxic.monkey said...
Feb. 19, 2010 at 11:13 am
It's a really good piece... plus I agree with you entirely! Thanks for putting this particular argument out there!
 
sunnyhunny This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 19, 2010 at 3:33 pm
I think this is really insightful. Most people don't think about women's liberation happening now, but it is. Even just the pressures in society of woman having to feel bad about their weight all of the time. There is so much pressure to meet a certain image, but it is not discussed often enough. This is a painful internal stuggle that many women face. It's hard as a woman in society to not just try to go by everyone else's standards.
 
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