The following is an opinionated essay on what I have learned and some views leading me to become a feminist.
There is a vast emotion deep within me that grows when I read the news, come across videos, engage in conversations, and read online comments. It is hard to believe how patriarchism and misogynism are very much alive in our modern times. Communication media make possible the uncovering of the wickedness created by those who abuse their power to oppress women, disabled people, race, and some targeted men.
For some, feminism is an angry mob of women who participate in riots, do not shave their bodies, and dye their hair bright colours. Basically a dirty scum, a threat to unhealthy man egos. Believing in feminism or expressing being a feminist comes with consequences and the unwanted opinion of those who misunderstand the concept. Opposite to hating men, feminism is the ongoing fight for equality, and even as simple as that, it is viewed as alienated. Feminism can be traced to centuries ago, way beyond what it is known as the mainstream. The information about this topic is clear and easy to access. It can be researched all across the internet, found in books, explained by activists via podcasts, videos and so on.
I have realized that the older I get, the more I want to protect and educate females overall.
Some weeks ago, someone shared with me how she heard of an incident in which a young woman was raped at a university campus. Although it was not a topic to be discussed lightly, I was offended when the woman sharing the story said I am sure that happened to her because x, y, and z. I had to stop her from continuing to explain her point of view and disturbing opinion. Naturally, I felt the need to remind her that no one asks to be rape; even less, a victim of rape cannot prevent the event when she is not even aware of her attacker’s plan. How are women still rooted in the thought that rape is a factor in how we dress, talk, act, or behave? When are men going to hold some accountability for their actions and disgustingness? It still blows my brain when other females bring down the spirits of those who feel comfortable in their own skin. Past, present and future, it is always a man’s responsibility to control themselves. We should not be babysitting them by dressing appropriately to accommodate their behaviour.
Men have a history and power over what -we- as women, are allowed to do. Have you ever wondered who gave heterosexual men the power to dictate what is acceptable? Exactly. Sometimes we follow the footsteps that were thought to us without questioning where they come from, do they make sense, or if it is necessary to break the pattern. It is just autopilot, and we can auto-observe ourselves executing the generational behaviour that, hopefully, one day, we will all escape. Educating those closer to us comes with uncomfortable situations, but nothing extraordinary has ever come from our comfort zones. Take the initiative to speak up when you hear a family member denigrating women. Whether they are talking about someone clothes, expresses themselves, or simply their character. Explain to them how supporting negatory conduct in our society prevents us from growing. Sometimes it is us the one who sustains those patterns of patriarchalism and misogyny. We all have the opportunity to grow and learn every single day, but we also have to hold ourselves accountable for our growing pains.
Have you ever caught yourself dissing another female? I have done it before, and today I feel ashamed for ever doing so. Speaking badly about other women was a natural practice in my surroundings when growing up. The way our society makes us compete to fit in their desirability box every single day, taking our money, our mental health, driving us to insane diets and overly exhausting exercises. As women, most of our value to machista men is determined by how our bodies impress them and how sensual but ladylike our character is. It makes me sick to even think about how ridiculous I used to be. During my teenage years and without realizing it, I tried to stay in shape, be sweet, and be likeable, even when it pained me to be social.
In middle school, you could smell the hormones in the air, other girls blossoming, boys transitioning into puberty, and the horniness was something out of this world. I consider myself a late blossom, my body really took its time to develop, and I felt such a rush for it to be curvier. From what I remember, I had a third-wheel part-time since I was not desirable by the male students as much as my friends at the time. AND THAT IS WHAT OUR SOCIETY PUSHES US TO THINK AND WANT INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON OUR STUDIES! Do not get fooled thinking that is a problem that only happens in school. It is a behaviour learned from our family members or the people who we look up to. Kids should never be self-aware or be rated by their looks; support them to love themselves just how they are. Kids being horny during those ages is normal; that is the perfect time to teach them about boundaries and respect which, come from both ways.
Boys should be taught how to express their emotions clearly instead of pushing girls, being mean, and intimidate them with this scenario of hostile love languages. It all starts from validating boys feelings, creating a safe space for them to express their emotions; instead of the narrative that boys should not cry, or they should not play with certain toys because it is for girls. That is how some of these men think these days, like machos, raised thinking that females are their inferiors in all aspects of life. Imagine if these men understood the damage created through generations, and that still affects the younger one? That acceptance and desire for change would solve the issues we battle today, but we are not even close to the astonishing realization… unfortunately.
Everyone deserves to be comfortable in their own skin, and the less we can do is protect everyone from unrealistic standards.
Luckily my mom raised my sister and me with the mentality that we should never limit ourselves from our achievements. I was raised among women who did genderless activities like cutting their grass, knew about mechanics, experimented with construction, among other things that are considered masculine. All of them are super feminine and take care of themselves -especially their beauty standards- from head to toe. But what happens to those girls who are told not to perform something because it is too masculine? Sounds like cutting girls much needed general education and their independence. Deeply rooted in traditional communities, the belief of a women’s role goes as far as making a sandwich. Nothing can be more ridiculous than that. I cannot attest that I am a know-it-all, but my curiosity goes beyond gender roles. So, be curious, set some goals for yourself and cut through the stereotypes of what girls are not allowed to do. Reclaim your independence while still being super kawaii or grunge; it is really up to you.
We have lived in the shadows and being limited to achieve more. In some traditions, women have to be extra cautious to not alter (negatively) their reproductive system performing heavy tasks. Being able to bring a child to this world should not determine a women’s value. Not all women have been lucky to have a healthy reproductive system; illnesses, accidents or simply nature have a more complete fate in our bodies. Since I am on the topic, shall we stop shaming women for not wanting to build families? Not sure why the fact of not wanting to be a mom confuses people. Having kids is a life-changing event and can never be taken lightly; it is one of the most important decisions a woman makes during her lifetime. A mother is forever until death breaks them apart, unlike marriage that can be broken on a random Tuesday. I am petrified by the idea of having kids. I cannot see myself sharing my space, my resources with a younger one. The commitment is precious, and I believe that it comes from genuine desirability and much love.
There is so much to deconstruct, learn, teach, and share. The fight for equality, and those who seek it, is a long and exhausting one. If you share the same believes as I do, never give up! Our chance to break apart what our past generations left us with comes in a package on a daily. Always take the opportunity to correct someone with kindness, offer/share the sources that can guide them. Never stop learning from your mistakes and hold yourself accountable. Speak up when it is wrongdoing happening around you. You are certainly not alone in this cause all of us -whether on social media or behind cameras- are doing the best we can for a brighter future and a healthier community.