Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Feminism and Me

I am a feminist. 

Feminism is not a dirty word.

The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn. Gloria Steinem

I'm not perfect, no one is but I am making conscious efforts to unlearn all the horrible habits I have. For me the hardest thing to unlearn was the constant judgement of other women that I did everyday. It's hard not to judge other women, when we are constantly bombarded with the ideals we should achieve and told that anyone who doesn't adhere to these should be judged. The problem is that no one can achieve these ideals, perpetuating the cycle of self hatred. How am I expected to not judge other women for the way they act, or look, if I do the same to myself. People idolise powerful women yet tear them down as soon as possible. 

I am my own worst critic and this is detrimental to my health, both mental and physical. How can I expect anyone to love me if I don't love myself. I am shown everywhere that I should look a certain way but this changes every season, I can't be curvy one second and then skeletal the next. Should I aspire to be a career woman or a mother? Should I take every opportunity to rise to the top only to earn less and never reach my true potential. Should I pursue a career where my research is less likely to receive funding.

A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life. Virginia Woolf

I am not a perfect feminist and I don't claim to be. I am privileged. I am white, straight, educated, middle class and raised in a western country. I will never know what it means to be anything other than what I am. Although the situation is relatively good for me, it's not that way for millions of others. Feminism doesn't end when my situation is the best it can be, it carries on until everyone has equal rights and opportunities. Recognising that my struggles are different is the first step, 

It is so important for me to challenge these stereotypes and taught behaviours. It is hard, to unlearn all the bad habits I've been shown all my life but it's worth it in the end. To praise and admire strong women who have done amazing things, who have overcome the unimaginable. 

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