Sunday, 19 June 2016

Let's All Have A Casual Chat: Feminism

I am a feminist. I have absolutely no shame whatsoever in admitting that fact. My views on this topic are incredibly strong, because it's something that I feel very passionately about, but I want to share them with you today in the hope that this post will somewhat educate you or open your eyes to what feminism actually is and how it affects you.
The idea to write about this has been in my mind for quite a while now, but I've decided that I'm going to bite the bullet and do it. What have I got to lose, after all?
One of the most common misconceptions is that feminists are man-haters or females who think that they are much better than males. I can assure you, this is not true in the slightest. The correct definition of feminism is, 'the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes', so let's just get that point out there before we all start jumping to conclusions without knowing what the word really means!
It seems to me that women are constantly belittled by men. Why should we be allowing this? Why should we just bury our heads in the sand and pretend like this is all okay, when we all know for a fact that it most definitely isn't and never will be? Surely, every single person in this world believes that men and women should be equal? Well, that's what a feminist believes too. If you say you're against feminism, then you're essentially against equality of the sexes. Why should men receive better opportunities, higher power and more recognition for the work that they put in? What about the incredible women in the world that do so much for humanity in order to benefit the way others live? Think of Emma Watson's speech to the United Nations, back in 2014. When my English teacher showed this speech to my class, I was quite honestly taken aback by what she had to say. She used her voice to state her opinion and she captured the attention of the people in power listening to her perfectly. Why can't all of us demonstrate that kind of attitude?
So many girls often get insulted on a regular basis. If they enjoy participating in a sport, they are judged, because only boys can become football fans, right? If they want to lift weights, they are criticised, because only boys can have strong muscles, right?

Some of my very best friends in real life are girls that enjoy playing football and other sports. They genuinely do love it and they have had some fantastic opportunities, because of this passion too. Never have I ever insulted them or put them down. I may not play football myself and I may not be a part of any sports team with other people my age, but that's irrelevant. I am more than happy to always support any of my girlfriends, who enjoy sport and I'd be more than happy to support any of my guy friends if they enjoy singing or dancing too!! I am so proud of all of my friends, regardless of what they are interested in.
WRONG. These perceptions are so, very wrong. Who decides what men and women can and can't do? What they can and can't love? What they can and can't enjoy? The answer to that is nobody. We are all individuals and we are all entitled to do, love and enjoy what we want. If a boy tells another boy that he 'punches like a girl', then why does that boy have the right to imply to the other that he is weak? Who says that girls and women are weak? If they are able to carry and care for a baby inside their body for 9 months and then go through the ordeal that is labour, then surely that makes them stronger than you could ever imagine?
Whilst doing some research prior to writing up this post, I found out (some) pretty horrific facts, some pretty insightful facts and I felt as though it was necessary for me to share them all with you :
- A man in a room full of women is ecstatic. A woman in a room full of men is terrified.
- On average two women a week are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner in the UK.
- Only 77% of young men agree that having sex with someone who has said no is rape.
- 1 in 5 people think it would be acceptable in certain circumstances for a man to hit or slap his female partner in response to her being dressed in sexy or revealing clothing in public.
Does the above image not just completely appal you? If that doesn't convince you that we need feminism, then I really don't know what will. Mental illness' are a serious thing. Why should a young girl have to pretend that her depression and eating disorder is invisible, just because the people around her guessed that it was down to hormones? Just because you're a young female, it doesn't mean that you can't struggle with your mental health. Why should a young girl in distress have to walk into school crying and get ignored for it, just because people would guess that she was experiencing her time of the month? There could have been a horrific explanation behind those tears and that young girl's emotions went unnoticed, all because ignorant individuals decided to remain small-minded. 
Why should a young girl suffer physically and mentally in terms of her health, but get told that it's merely down to a slight chemical imbalance in her brain? She could have been incredibly ill, yet people chose not to take notice of her and why was that? All because she was born as a female and not a male.
The young girls of today feel as though they have to wear a full face of makeup just to go to school. Fake tan, fake eyelashes, hair extensions - the lot. They feel as though they have to dress themselves up, just to face a couple hundred people, so they can receive an education. They know that people will base judgement on the way that they look. They know that boys will be staring at their boobs or their bums. They know that boys will be looking them up and down, eyes practically ogling out of their sockets. This is so sad and so wrong. We shouldn't feel the need to play dumb or act as if we are unintelligent, just so that the boy we find attractive in our year will pay attention to us. We shouldn't feel as though the length of our skirt determines whether we are promiscuous or not. We shouldn't get taught that boys care more about looks or that they perceive girls as objects that they are able to just play around with for a laugh in order to get rated by their so called 'friends'.
To all you boys and men out there. Women are not weak. Women's thoughts and opinions are not insignificant. Women's work is no less important than yours is. We are smart, we are strong and our thoughts and opinions are valid. We should be treated exactly the same as you are. Why in the world should we be treated any differently, when we are just as capable of succeeding in life as you are? If we want to play football and compete with other teams, then we are entitled to. If we want to throw punches and practise boxing, then we are entitled to. If we want to wear a short skirt when we go out, then we are entitled to. A woman's worth is not measured by her clothing. Feminism isn't about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It's about changing the way the world perceives that strength.
I completely accept the fact that men and boys struggle too. They get told to 'man up!' if they find something a challenge. They get told that they are acting 'like a girl', if they are supposedly not strong enough. They get told they are acting 'like a girl' if they cry. Who actually gives a damn? I mean, seriously. If a boy or a man wants to cry, then let him be and offer some support, rather than criticism. Crying is natural, so stop making it out to be some big deal. If you have nothing nice to say, then just don't say it at all! Can you now see how ridiculous this all is? I understand that every boy and every man is fighting their own battle, but that's besides the point right now. I'm trying to express the fact that women can't seem to be who they want to be. Boys and men have the freedom to go down whatever career path they choose. Why can't a girl become a bus driver? Why can't a girl become a professional footballer? What fool is it that decided women must stay at home to cook and clean tirelessly for hours on end, like a slave, whilst the man of the house is allowed to go out to work and make a living for himself? Do you understand now how difficult life for a lady is? You judging them based on the length of their skirt or how low down their top is? They should not feel pressurised to look a certain way, just so they can get attention from you. They should not feel as though they have to dimmer their intelligence, just so that you will notice them once, which they have so desperately longed for since they first laid eyes on you.
Destroying a girl's self-esteem and self-worth, without even getting to know the person behind the appearance? It's absolutely pathetic. And it needs to change.
Women are not and never will be objects. We should not be treated like rag dolls. You can't just expect us to slip on a pretty dress, apply some red lipstick and then yearn for us to fall into your arms and get into bed with you. It doesn't work that way! And how dare people out there think it does. You should be appreciative of the kindness that we display, the love and affection that we give to you, the loyalty that we perceive. Appreciate what's on the inside. Don't lust after what you may see once on the outside.
I'm going to be honest here. I care about what people think of me; heck, I even care what boys think about me. I look in the mirror one too many times before I feel semi-satisfied. I cry and get upset if an attractive boy calls me ugly. I worry that boys will never appreciate me for who I am behind the outside appearance. I worry that I will always feel insecure; judged.
I don't want things to be this way any longer than they have to be. Not for myself, not for the  girls I know and love and not for the baby girl that I may give birth to in the future. I don't want any girl to feel as though she has to look or act a certain way to be considered as a human. I don't want my baby girl to get born into this world, knowing that boys she may come across will more than likely judge her for the way she looks. I want all of the girls in my life to feel beautiful, confident and worthy, because that's what you all should be already in my eyes. I just wish you could see that too.
How can we expect anything to change if we don't get up off our backsides and do something now? What if one day it is too late? What if it gets worse?
These are some of the many reasons why I chose to become a feminist. I am proud to call myself that. And you should be proud to call yourself one too. Females should not have to hide away from society. Females should feel just as appreciated and just as accepted as men do.
I understand that this blog post may not have much of an effect on any of you, but if it helps even one person to understand a little bit more about the subject of feminism, then I'm happy.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. I really do hope it has encouraged or educated you in some way.
Together, we can fight for gender equality.
I am proud to be a feminist. Are you?
Lots of love always,
Jade xo


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