I need feminism because our society is not fair to my gender, because smart women have less voice than smart men, because people with one set of genitals should not make decisions for people with another set of genitals, because inequality exists, because I don’t want my daughters to think they’re inferior to my sons and because I don’t want my sons to think they are better than my daughters. I need feminism because every time a woman accomplishes something, someone points out that she is a woman, not a man. I need feminism because my country has yet to have a female president, because powerful women are still belittled and patronized, because women have to work so much harder to gain respect. I need feminism because my wanting Legos instead of Barbies was considered odd, because companies assume all girls want dolls and all boys want blocks, because targeted marketing tells me I am wrong for wanting to build and create. I need feminism because once I enter the workforce, I will earn less than a man with my same credentials would, because I have to fight to have the potential of being seen as equal. I need feminism because society tells me that not living up to mens’ beauty ideals makes me ugly, inside and out, because the media shows unintelligent “pretty” women more than “plain-looking” female scientists. I need feminism because social norms make me ashamed to look in the mirror, to be photographed. I need feminism because every time I tell myself I’m beautiful in all the ways that count, it feels like a consolation prize. I need feminism because society tells me, consciously or not, that I am not supposed to be outspoken and bright and creative, that I am supposed to be quiet and unassuming, to be seen and not heard. I need feminism because I don’t want to live in a male-dominated culture where somebody else decides what ideals I hold myself to, what I think I should act like, be like. I need feminism because every day, I hear about one more woman who was killed by her husband, one more rape victim whose case was dropped because no one took her seriously, one more girl who was scorned for wanting to be equal. I need feminism because practically every insulting, derogatory word I know is directed at women, whether it be for their looks, their habits, their actions, or the simple fact that they were born female, not male. I need feminism because horrific, violent, traumatizing crimes go unreported because the victims are too scared to speak, because based on all the evidence shown in the news, they will be dismissed out of hand or laughed at. I need feminism because when a woman is attacked, people assume she was asking for it or deserved it. I need feminism because my culture tells me I am wrong for being who I am, that I am wrong for not trying to conform, that I am wrong for trying to bend the ideals to myself instead of myself to the ideals. I need feminism because of the double standards governing our world. When two women have a photo of them kissing on their wedding day taken, it attracts rude and derogatory comments that don’t exist for similar photos of hetero couples or male couples. I need feminism because when I look back on my youth, I don’t want to say, “I remember when they told me I was nothing, and I believed it.” I want to regale my children and grandchildren with the story of how my gender and I challenged the norm until we got results, until we got fair treatment. I want to be able to walk down the street dressed however I want without being jeered at. I want to be able to accept compliments without hearing the “for a girl” undertones. I need feminism because I want the world to accept me and every other woman for ourselves, and to stop making us feel inferior and ashamed. I need feminism because everyone deserves a voice. I need feminism so I can express my views without being dismissed as a dyke or a lesbo. I need feminism because I want to change the fact that wanting to be equal is associated with being gay, because everyone, be they woman or man, adult or child or teenager, gay or straight or anywhere in between, black or white or Hispanic or Asian or native, we all deserve to be heard. We all deserve the chance to make our own choices about our bodies. We all deserve the chance to become a doctor or a lawyer or a nurse or a teacher without being told that it’s a “man’s job” or a “woman’s job.” We all deserve the chance, period.
March 3, 2013