I am a feminist but I haven’t always been. Whilst I was growing up I never really came across the word or thought about it too much. I’m a nineties kid and ‘feminism’ had never been in my vocabulary.
At my primary school the gender roles were old fashioned. On Fridays the boys went outside to play football whilst the girls sat inside sewing pretty patterns. I do not remember being given the option to kick a ball around. It was just assumed that we would prefer sewing. From an early age I grew up in this environment, but despite that it didn’t stop me from choosing to do judo instead of ballet outside school hours.
In secondary school we learnt about the Suffragettes and how they fought for equality but little, if not, anything of how they played a key part in feminism as a movement. It was only in Sixth Form whilst I was studying English Literature that I came across a ‘feminist’ approach. On the rare occasions that I did think about feminism I associated it with women who had strong opinions and acted dramatically in the name of women’s rights. Feminism was alien to me as a teenager. I was too busy fighting my own battles to join the ongoing battle which feminism faced.
So I guess you’re wondering how I came to identify myself as a feminist? Some events in my adult life made me realise that I needed feminism and so does society. I have experienced catcalling on the street, had my bottom pinched in nightclubs and read reports of women being discriminated against simply for being a woman. I’m not saying that there was one particular event in my life that introduced me to feminism, but rather a series of events.
I came across writers such as Caitlin Moran and Laura Bates who were both openly talking about feminism on Twitter and campaigning for equality in society. I soon discovered a network of feminists on social media who were standing up for women and empowering them.
I found the Twitter feed of the Everyday Sexism Project, a website run by Laura Bates which encourages women to share and submit their stories of sexism. It highlighted many shocking examples of women being treated as second class citizens. I was intrigued, so I bought the Everyday Sexism book which records women’s personal stories of sexism and analyses the way women are treated in society.
Reading the book, I immediately identified with issues that were raised. I was struck by the overriding message of the book – that sexism is rife in our society and every day a form of it happens, whether it be online or offline. I felt compelled to do something and I suppose that was become a feminist and stand with these women and say “No that’s not ok”.
Since becoming a feminist I have felt empowered. Its made me a stronger person. No longer will I let myself be objectified or turn a blind eye to sexism. It’s a shame that I didn’t discover feminism sooner. But I am just glad that I have opened my eyes to the world around me and made an informed decision to become a feminist.
Would you call yourself a feminist? Do you think that we need feminism?