Lines always seem to blur when a serious concept becomes a trend. Younger generations are struggling to understand the concept of Feminism and instead of educating themselves on the sisters who came before them, why they fought for your rights and why they did the radical things they did, use Feminism as an excuse for every behavior – good or bad. Feminism is in it’s most basic definition classified as a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes.
Feminism is about standing up for who you are as a woman. It has nothing to do with the amount of men you sleep with in hopes of claiming your liberal sexuality, or how many “the future is female” T shirts you can acquire. With the rise of feminism in the 60s and especially the 70s, what we saw in history, was women who were aware of their identities and stood up for what they believed was owed to them, and what they knew they needed, to be considered equal to their male counterparts. Feminism is also not man hating – many men consider themselves feminists, purely because they can see the injustice women are faced with. Feminism is political and it’s about fighting a system that favors men. It’s about humanism and equality – between women, men and children of all races. It’s not about fighting your sisters. Feminism is about taking responsibility for yourself and it’s a personal journey. It is not something you can claim to be by posting a few memes or images of bloody sanitary pads and tampons on your Instagram. The women who laid the path for modern feminists had to fight hard to claim their identities, and emotional, spiritual, financial and physical independence.
Sure, there are still many discrepancies in 2018 and we still have a long way to go, but if it wasn’t for our sisters before us, we would not have half the rights we have today. Feminists like Judy Chicago, Alice Neel, Flo Kennedy, Susan Brownmillar, Margo Jefferson, Kate Millet, Jane Fonda, Meredith Monk and so many more, are icons we should aspire to be like, instead of creating this idea of Feminism that in essence has nothing to do with immersing yourself in your identity as a woman.
You can’t label yourself as Feminist, but when you have to walk to walk, you show destructive behavior towards other women and when they call you on it, claim it was hypocritical of them to point out your shitty behavior. The same goes for slut-shaming. You can sleep with whoever you like, but if you’re deliberately destroying another relationship, by means of manipulation, lies and delusion, you cannot go around telling people you are a victim of slut-shaming. We see it way too often on social media. Young women throwing these terms around with little idea of what it means or the impact thereof. The same goes for how we express ourselves, especially with our bodies. In an article in Dazed Magazine, Martine Thompson writes “Feeling obligated to pry and distort your body solely to appease the male gaze or fulfill toxic societal expectations is unacceptable. We should all feel we have the option and know we have the choice concerning all aspects of our bodies. Let’s explore and assert our sexuality as we please, offering no apologies or elucidations. But let’s also remember to engage and listen to marginalized voices. Let’s remember that”.
Cover image by Nasty Gal*