Thursday, 25 September 2014

I have an issue.

I am a female. I have rights. I believe that as a woman, I have a natural entitlement to mirrored rights as any male counterpart. I believe, that as a human, I have rights. I believe, that as a human, rights are a natural entitlement. Not legally, not physically, but more so mentally. As a living, breathing organism made up of functioning cells and nerve endings, that we, as society, have an issue on our hands.


The nature of being biologically different should not constitute towards an unwritten rule of inequality. General attitudes sicken me. As a fifteen year old, I am subjected to attitudes which cause me to avert my eyes in silent disgust, unable to fathom making eye contact with those at the core of the problem. Those who objectify women. Those who judge by the superficial: appearance, wealth and stereotype. I am fifteen. I am a child. Is it right for me, a child, to have become so critically entwined with the problems of society to the extent that I feel it is my duty to speak out? To go against the norm, to voice my perhaps meagre opinions, to attempt to make a slight change, simply by the pure power of my words? Why is it that I, a fifteen year old child, should feel the responsibility to speak out against such a brutally disregarded issue with naive force?

I acknowledge with this naive force that it is not only women who are consistently objectified. Men are equally the recipients of such behaviour. They may be abused with an equal measure of inequality. Gay men often feel inferior simply on the basis that they do not 'fit' the stereotypical 'norms'. Why is it that they are considered 'less' of a man than a stereotypically 'manly' man? Why is it that their 'effeminate' actions are considered to be weak?

Now let me introduce a word that will probably make you click that red 'x' in the corner. But please don't. That word? 

FEMINISM.

It's not about angry lesbians with hairy armpits burning bras and hating on the male species, as the most common stereotype suggests. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with such a female, I'm not going to go all hairy bra-burner on you. No. Feminism, in essence, is the belief that gender equality should be completely prominent in society.

Feminism is "the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes" Feminism is standing up for equality. Feminism is refusing to admit that you are weak. Feminism is standing up for your morals. Feminism is a mindset, not a stereotype. Feminism is "the radical notion that women are people" as Rebecca West, the late journalist once said. Does that notion seem ridiculous to you? That actually, we're all human beings? That I am not going to be restricted based on my biology?

You may argue that women and men are different biologically, and that natural differences should result in natural differences in duties, responsibilities and actions. I understand that in biology, we are naturally predisposed to partake in different roles. Women are the natural bearers of new life and men naturally built in a physically stronger way. I acknowledge the fact that men and women cannot be equal across all terms. I acknowledge the fact that there will always be a natural division. But what I also heavily acknowledge? Is the fact that we can do everything we can to reduce this natural division.

Yes, whilst I understand the indisputable science of varied anatomical structure, what I don't understand is why that in any way has grounds to translate into a social hierarchy. It seems ridiculous that a single letter - either an X or Y chromosome, is responsible for  such division.

I am not saying that women and men should not fulfil their natural roles. I am saying that women should have a choice. Women should have a choice in whether they stay at home, become a career women, or both. But really? It doesn't matter. It shouldn't be the talk of the playground. Women can choose. That is what feminism is about. Feminism is about the choice to be equal. It is about acknowledging the fact that we have a choice here on this world, and our choices are not restricted by our biological attributes.

Yet the hard-hitting truth? The truth that the Gender Equality Act shelters us from?  The truth about the worst of the storm? A lot of women do not have choice.

There remains 10 countries in the world where women are legally bound to obey their husbands. Approximately 70% of people in minimum wage jobs are women. 46% of global news content reinforces gender stereotypes, almost eight times higher than stories that challenge such stereotypes. In Pakistan, women with a primary education earn 51% what men earn. With a secondary education, they earn 70% what men earn. Globally, women make up just 17% of parliamentarians. Globally, 10 million more girls are out of school than boys. 41 million girls worldwide are still denied a primary education. Women account for nearly two thirds of the world’s 780 million people who cannot read. Is this equality?

I identify as a feminist on the sole basis - that 'feminism' stays true to its initial objective of achieving equality. I don't want to be treated any better, or to be treated exclusively based on my natural biological attribute. I want to be treated as human. I do not want this for just myself. I want this for all girls worldwide. Why, when we are essentially the same, minus a few random anatomical differentials here and there, do we experience such division? Why, both classified as the same species, as humans, are we so different?


I want equality. I do not want to be part of a superior gender. I want to feel confident in the knowledge that a  single variant in chromosomes  does not limit choice. I want to feel confident in the knowledge that as humans, we are equal. I want to feel confident in the knowledge that society promotes equality. I want to feel confident in the knowledge that equality exists.


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This post was inspired by the beautiful speech made by Emma Watson on behalf of the United Nations regarding a new campagain called 'HeForShe'. This is a movement for gender equality that aims to unite both genders in such a quest. We need to work together on this issue to solve it. We cannot do it alone. We need help. We need help in ensuring that gender stereotypes are minimised. We need help in achieving the best life chances as equal humans. We need help ensuring that everybody feels comfortable in their own skin.


I support the campaign. I identify as a feminist. I believe in equality. 


Do you?










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