My Feminist Manifesto

Until recently, I had no idea what the word “feminist” even meant, let alone identify myself as one.  The word “feminism” held no real significance for me, and none of my friends or family considered themselves feminists.  I had all the stereotypical images in my head; angry women protesting and burning bras.  I believed that feminism was a movement that was important in the seventies, but had no value for a 21st century woman like myself.  This all changed last year when I took a Women’s Studies class.  On our first day, the professor asked us to write one page about the role our gender has played in our lives and how this has contributed to our oppression.  I was a little confused by this assignment.  I just stared at the empty sheet in front of me and thought to myself, “Well, I don’t really feel oppressed.”  As I sat there and reflected on my life, I started to recognize all the experiences that had been influenced by my gender.  I began to recognize events in my life that I had always assumed were a part of growing up, but are actually just part of growing up as a girl.  These experiences began to reveal a very different picture of my life.  By looking past my preconceived notions about what life is supposed to be like, I immediately started to recognize all the ways my life was determined by my gender. Everything, from the stories I read in school to images I saw in the media, created and reinforced images in my head of what a girl should be like.  Without knowing it, these images influenced my decisions, both big and small.

When I tell someone that I am a feminist, I am usually met with a confused look.  Most of these people think that feminism is a radical, out of date movement. My parents even asked me if there was some trauma in my childhood that made me so “vehement” about feminism.  The truth is that its just the opposite; I lived a normal childhood and I never felt oppressed or slighted because of my gender.  This is part of the problem, because, in my opinion, the biggest roadblock to gender equality is that most people think that it has already been achieved.  We accept life as “the way it is”, and we’ve stopped thinking about the way it should be.  Accepting the fact that women are “almost equal” is preventing us from going the rest of the way.  I am a feminist because the fight for gender equality is far from over.  If you take a critical look at your life, you will recognize the opportunities that you missed while you were trying to fulfill society’s expectations.  I am a feminist because we all take for granted the rights that past feminists earned for us, and if we don’t remember why feminism was important in the first place, we cannot guarantee those rights for our daughters.  I am a feminist because even though I have the right to vote and get an education, there are women in the world who don’t, and the fight for gender equality isn’t over until it’s universal.  I am a feminist because I believe in a future where every girl will be able to fulfill her potential and where women will have equal representation in government.  I am a feminist because I refuse to believe that making 85 cents to every dollar that a man makes is the best we can do.  I am a feminist and I am not ashamed of it, because you know that we live in a patriarchal society when you are judged for believing that women should be equal and autonomous citizens.  

Roxanne

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7 thoughts on “My Feminist Manifesto

  1. Such an interesting perspective! I never thought of the impact my gender has had on my life- for instance Im sure i wouldn’t be so interested in dancing, make-up and fashion! Really valuable point to take into consideration.
    But i agree the fight for equality isn’t over it maybe only small steps to achieve but they still need to be done! I have to ask for your opinion on the inequality of pay between genders, is it an issue that will ever be dealt with? For me it is a problem that can be solved simply an I am confused why it hasn’t been sooner! Would be interesting to hear your thoughts, thanks! Laura 🙂

    • Make-up is a great example! I am interested in makeup as well, and I wonder if I was originally motivated by pressure to look a certain way. Sometimes I try to think about what other things I could accomplish in the time I spend putting on makeup everyday.

      I am actually working on a article about pay inequality which I will be posting this afternoon! I definitely agree with you that it seems really simple and its hard to believe that the wage gap still exists today. I think partially based on just pure discrimination, but I also think that women are holding themselves back by underestimating their abilities. Too many women are buying into the idea that their husband should make more money, and its stopping them from reaching their full potential.

      Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate it!

      • Yes it’s so true my Mum always tells me i need a day off of makeup to clear my skin ha I think make up is a different impact of life of what it used to be!
        No way- very much looking forward to reading it later! I too have recently written a post on the topic and would love to hear your thoughts on my blog as I’m relevantly new to the ‘blogging scene’ find it here, http://conflictwithcroggon.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/what-women-want/
        Yes i couldn’t agree more when you say women hold themselves back! They definitely don’t have as much confidence in themselves and I say that with personal experience. I know that if a woman with the same experience as a man was to put herself out for a job and the employer was to ask how much money they would want, a woman would ask for less than a man but both be accepted by the employer.
        This most definitely plays a part in the root of gender inequality in pay! Look forward to hearing your thoughts and your new post! Thanks, Laura 🙂

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