I'm ashamed to say that I never gave much thought to feminism until that speech by Emma Watson (if you don't know what I'm talking about - have you been living under a rock? - please watch this video now). Feminism is something that has been in the news a lot recently, and yesterday it was celebrated with International Women's Day.
When I was younger I didn't really see the inequality between men and women. We were all treated the same in school - of course some of the boys made remarks like "go and make me a sandwich", but we would all laugh it off as it was just funny banter. But since stepping into the working world and starting my degree I have noticed the gap between the sexes. When I was working during my gap year there were certain tasks that only males would do - I didn't give it much of a thought at the time but looking back it was unequal. Since starting my degree, it is scary how much sexism there is in the healthcare industry. I have only met three women surgeons out of about 50 that I must have met during my time on medical placement - whether that is due to choice or not, I don't know. I have heard stories of fellow colleagues saying that women shouldn't be doctors, and sometimes more senior consultants will pay more attention to the male medical students than the females. When in fact we are just as capable to do the job as any man, whether we have babies and wear skirts or not. And this inequality is even more prevalent in other careers - how often do you see a business woman, compared to the thousands of business men? Not to mention the pay gap between the genders.
I like to wear make-up and nice clothes and I shave my legs, so maybe I'm not what people would think of as a traditional feminist, but I want equality and equal opportunities between both sexes. Shouldn't all women want this? Why is there such a problem with the term 'feminism'? Most people identify with the principles of feminism and supporting women's rights, but don't like the stigma around the word 'feminist'. Well to quote Dumbledore (naturally), "Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself". The F word shouldn't stop people from wanting equality. It shouldn't put women off striving for the pay that they deserve. And it definitely shouldn't make us put up with sexism in the workplace, or anywhere else for that matter.
Real feminists aren't those that hate men and put down other women for wearing lipstick. They are women that celebrate others of their own gender, that strive for equality and want the best for everyone. Men can be feminists too - in fact we need men to step up and be feminists if we are going to achieve anything. Gender equality extends to the whole population; as John Legend said, "All men should be feminists. If men care about women's rights, the world will be a better place."
As women we are so lucky to be living in an era where we do have the right to vote and are able to have some amazing opportunities, as well as the right to free speech and being able to have a huge influence (like with this blog, for example). But there is still a long way to go. I don't care about the odd sexist joke about going to the kitchen; sometimes they are even funny (as long as they are a joke), but if you wouldn't call yourself a feminist then that means you think men should have more rights than women. Just think about that.
You don't have to be ashamed of calling yourself a feminist. Wear make-up, or don't wear make-up. Shave or don't shave. Just be you, and be proud of being the amazing woman (or man) that you are.
When women are empowered, they immeasurably improve the lives of everyone around them.
- Prince Harry
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