From October 22-26, The Wanderer Online is participating in the “Who Needs Feminism?” Call to Action Week, which you can read more about here. Throughout the week, we’ll be posting 2-4 articles per day where writers answer the question “I need feminism because…” If you’re interested in writing something, please send us your piece at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind that you are totally allowed and encouraged to write anonymously, if that works better for you.
This is an article for anyone who doesn’t understand feminism. Contrary to popular belief, feminism isn’t about putting men down. Feminism is about living in a world where equality between the sexes is better reflected. If you are lucky enough as a male or a female to be surrounded by strong women and admirable men it is easy to dismiss feminism as a 19th century problem. I certainly was of this opinion for a very long time. Therefore, I ask for you to suspend that judgment while you read this. I feel the greatest value in supporting feminism isn’t for ourselves, but for the youth that grow up in the world we live in.
I want you to imagine our world through the eyes of a young girl. She is your sister; she was your mother once, and your grandmother before that. She is your girlfriend, your best friend; she is your future daughter.
You are taking her to the mall. It’s her birthday next week, she’s turning 8—or it could be 12, or 15, it makes no difference—and you’re buying her a party dress. What does she see as you walk through the mall to the store?
These are advertisements you see almost anywhere. As adults we don’t really see them, not properly. Female sexuality isn’t something that fazes us anymore. We use Photoshop, and we understand what a brand will do to sell a product. We know that a person’s worth isn’t (or shouldn’t be) quantified by their abs or breasts, but our young girl sees these images very differently. These images tell her she needs to be beautiful, and they define beauty in her eyes. They convey a desire for male attention. They also tell her that her skin isn’t the right color, or that her eyebrows are too bushy, and that she doesn’t have the right body shape. These do not empower women. These images tell me the same thing, but I’ve learned not to listen. Everyone learns that, eventually. You can sit there and say I am looking too far into this, and you can claim a child doesn’t perceive concepts like sexuality, or cultural norms, but you’re wrong. Psychologists will say you’re wrong, but more importantly, I say so, and I was that girl. Your mom was her, too. And so was your sister, and your girlfriend. She is the girl who texts you all the time, that slut at the bar, the fourteen year old on the train talking about blow jobs.
You’re reading this, and you might be saying something like, “but you all turned out fine. My sister’s a doctor, my mom is wonderful, and my girlfriend is the strongest person I know.” That’s because we persevered and got through it, we struggled, we faltered, but we were triumphant. Not everyone is so lucky. In fact, in knowing strong women, I can understand how you wouldn’t understand why we are so passionate about feminism. You’ve only seen the finished product, not the process.
In this article I asked you to view the world from the perspective of a young girl in order to understand just a small facet of the problems feminism seeks to solve. I chose the perspective of a young girl because it’s one I personally relate to; however, you can easily change this perspective to that of a young boy. The story doesn’t change (after all, take another look at those ads. Do we want to be teaching our boys to look up women’s skirts?!). If we truly stand for equality we have to broaden our perceptions and consider issues from different viewpoints. Even if you disagree with everything I’ve said here, I hope that you have gained an understanding of gender issues and how they affect others. I hope in the future you can act as part of the solution, instead of perpetuating the problem.