Feminism 101: Part II

July 31, 2014
You can look at the situation any way you want, but the results are the same. Feminists are one of the most stereotyped activist groups in the world. When I think to myself how people react when I so much as bring up the so-called “f-word” around them, I want to throw out a slew of statistics and facts; let them know the insanity of today’s society regarding women. I think of all the influences I grew up around, how some of the most commonly used insults are synonymous with “girl,” and if that isn’t royally screwed up, I don’t know what is.

Girls are taught in public school systems that they “lose a part of themselves” when they have sex, and if you’ll repeat after me, virginity is a socially constructed concept that only applies to women. Whether or not you’ve been with someone does not define your value as a person. Not to mention the double standards placed upon teens and young adults. “If you’ve had sex, you’re a sl*t. If you haven’t, you’re a prude” is most commonly used on girls, whereas boys and men are considered “studs” or “masculine” for having sex. I still live in a society where one in every four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and dare they press charges, one of the first questions they are asked is what they were wearing.

In America, women’s bodies are used to sell everything from motor oil to Diet Coke to painkillers. I fight for my rights because in 2013, there were over 700 bills passed by the United States government regulating the bodies of women and girls. For males, how many bills were passed? That’s right: zero. In the political system that regulates what I’m “supposed” to do with MY body is made up of more than eighty percent male. Isn’t that a problem?

I fight for my rights because girls are expected to be intelligent but not opinionated, professional but not assertive, sexy but not sl*tty, not fat and not skinny, and to further men’s opinions without having their own. Girls are expected to be emotionally open, whereas boys are shamed for such, as it is considered “weak” and “girlish.” Weak? For real? What’s weak is placing standards upon a society that is over half women and expecting them to deal with injustice because the majority of the male population wants power.

I believe in the “f-word” because women should be an advocate for other women, not a setback. In Saudi Arabia, it is still illegal for women to vote or drive and 33% of girls worldwide have not been provided with a basic education.

Anorexia has the highest death rate of any mental disorder, and over eighty five percent of its victims are women. Many cultures present control, power and strength as masculine qualities, and if you talk to any anorexia patient, one of the top comments of the disorder is feeling as if starving themselves brings control. Isn’t it sick to live in a society that presents eating disorders as glamorous?

I believe what I believe because I have talked to boys who sincerely think that “have you seen what girls look like in yoga pants?” is an argument for catcalling, assault, and even rape. And on the other side, I have talked to boys who state that they do not want a daughter because they see what their sisters, friends, and girlfriends are subjected to on a daily basis. Sixty five percent of people surveyed in Brazil believe that girls who wear revealing clothing deserve rape and violence. In most public schools, dress codes apply mostly or exclusively to girls. I am astounded at this because when I asked a teacher why she made me put on a jacket to cover my shoulders, I was told “because boys will look at you,” and yet the young man wearing a wife-beater that exposes his stomach is in no way called out on his clothing choice. When you send a girl home for “inappropriate attire” you are telling her that the boys in her radius having a “distraction-free environment” is more important than her being in school. You are telling her that she is less entitled to an education than they are.

I am a feminist because I want equal rights, and we aren’t there yet.

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