Feminist is not a dirty word. Being a feminist does not mean I think lesser of men. Being a feminist means that I am nineteen years old, female, and I’ve been catcalled, sneered at and laughed at, groped on the street, groped at school, harassed, belittled, boxed into a glass elevator (the list goes on….) and all before I’ve really hit adulthood. So here I am, writing this blog post, to let you all know that I am 100%, officially, over this shit.
Earlier today, the fab Holly Bourne (@holly_bourneYA) launched her #IAmAFeminist Twitter campaign alongside her publishers, Usborne. After starting it all off with a badass Tumblr post explaining why she’s a feminist, she handed it over to Twitter to share their reasonings. I thought it were only apt I get involved, so here’s my story:
I am a feminist because less than an hour ago I had to hear the word ‘girl’ being used as a synonym for ‘useless’ yet again. I am a feminist because the frequency in which this happens is insurmountable, and beyond damaging to young girls’ confidence.
I am a feminist because film producers are incapable of believing girls like superhero movies and action films, that girls like gore and horror too. I am a feminist because the overwhelming majority of white, middle-class men I see on the screen is ridiculously disproportionate to the multi-cultural society I see around me. Which, by the way, is home to just as many women as men.
I am a feminist because I am told I need to be beach body ready, as if me having a body and being at a beach isn’t ‘ready’ enough. I am a feminist because I say “sorry” when it’s not necessary, because I move out of the way of men in my path, because I give up the arm rest for him, and I need to stop these bad habits because I am as deserving of space, time, and energy as he.
I am a feminist because the UK has its second ever female Prime Minister, the US is on its way to electing its first female President, and national newspapers are still writing headlines like these. I am a feminist because not a single serious article has ever been written about the colour of David Cameron’s suit or President Obama’s hair cut.
I am a feminist because I was groped in school on numerous occasions by boys my age, my peers, and I didn’t think to say anything. I am a feminist because I saw the same thing happening to girls around me as early as seven. I am a feminist because we need to end our silence on these matters and we need to end them now.
I am a feminist because I live in the first world, and live a fairly privileged life, but not everyone is afforded that luxury. I am feminist because 92% of married Egyptian women aged between 15-49 have been subjected to FGM despite it being illegal in their country. I am a feminist because the average age these girls were mutilated was 10.5 years old, because these girls were never given control over their own bodies, because these children were subjected to such horrors before they’d even started puberty.
I am a feminist because boys matter too. I am a feminist because in 2013 8 out of 10 suicides were committed by men, because men are told to bottle up their emotions, to not cry, because it is ‘unmanly’. I am a feminist because we are all human and emotions make us so.
I am a feminist because trans people and intersex people and genderqueer people and non-conforming people matter as much as girls and boys do. I am a feminist because being a trans woman of colour is probably one of the most dangerous things to be, and that is not okay.
I am a feminist because this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is barely any of it.
These kinds of things are not okay. We need to teach young girls (indeed – all girls) to stand up and speak up, to take a stance. We need to teach them that it is okay to be a bitch or to be bossy or to be anything a boy is because there are no distinctive cognitive differences between men and women, other than the ones society put there. And we need to do the same for boys – because they deserve to cry too.
If you haven’t read Holly Bourne’s What’s a Girl Gotta Do? yet I would strongly recommend it (my review will be up on its official release day next Monday). We all need a little Lottie in our life. This summer I’m really trying to expand my feminist reading and Holly’s book has definitely been a highlight to that, and for that I thank her so much. I thank her for being brave enough to put the Spinster Club series out in the world and not giving a damn about the trolls on Twitter. I thank her for starting this hashtag (and getting it trending #1 in the UK!!). These books are far too important to be pushed aside or forgotten about. Feminism is far too important to be pushed aside or ridiculed.
Please, world, stop brushing off modern feminism. We really, really need it.