Being a woman is no cakewalk. It’s gotten better as society has progressed, but there are still gaping holes of inequity in the fabric of our social sphere when it comes to gender. Looking away is almost impossible–it’s everywhere. The U.S. ranks 60th in the world in women’s political empowerment; since 2009, more than half of sexual assaults have gone unreported; since 2014, state legislatures have introduced 468 restrictions on woman’s bodies and none for men. None of it is fair or right, but that’s unfortunately the way it is. And those are just the legal statistics, which don’t even take social difficulties, like tramp shaming, rape culture, and every day misogyny into account.
In a world where it’s unsafe for women to even be out after dark, it can seem like it’s hopeless to have been born female. As someone who’s minoring in women’s studies, I’ve had a lot of exposure to these issues as well as time to mull them over. While I’ve found no easy, immediate solution, the best advice I can give you is this: be as vocal a feminist as possible.
Now, I know I just dropped a major f-bomb on you. But trust me when I say that a feminist is one of the most important things you can be today. Now, being a feminist does not mean that you hate men or think the world should be a matriarchy or that you’re a lesbian. It simply means that you think that women should have the same social, political, and economic opportunities as men. That’s all! It’s called feminism as opposed to humanism or egalitarianism, because women have historically been the most disadvantaged–men do have their own issues under the patriarchy, but we need to advocate for the rights of the underprivileged to make a difference.
The patriarchy is the masculine societal rule that has pervaded the planet for thousands of years. It is the patriarchy that tells us that women need to be a certain way, that they can be “asking” for rape, that they are inherently weaker. It also tells men that they cannot be emotional; the concept of toxic masculinity was born from it. Feminism works to dismantle the patriarchy, in turn benefiting both men and women.
Men are used to getting what they want. From birth, society tells them that they’re superheroes, that woman are just conquests for them to conquer, that they can do anything they want without consequence. When they come across a movement that is not about them (like feminism), they will probably sneer at you and accuse of “being sexist against men”. This is exactly why we need feminism.
Feminism has helped us vote. It’s given us rights to land and assets and our children. It’s lifted us up when nothing else has. Being a feminist is going to ruffle feathers, yes, but it’s the only way to enact change. Don’t ever be down on yourself for being a woman–you’re not a tramp, you’re not a Jezebel, and you did not somehow inherit the original sin. God loves you! Women are the bringers of life, divas, queens, empresses. There isn’t a man alive who can take that power away from you. Once you embrace being a feminist, you will take control of your inner power, and no one will ever be able to make you forget it again.
You are so valuable and so important and so magical. Always keep that knowledge in your heart. And when in doubt, remember a quote from every girl’s best friend, Barbie:
“We girls can do anything!”