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Recently, I have been watching documentaries on BBC iPlayer, by Stacey Dooley. I find in her own rights Stacey Dooley is an inspiration to women, throwing herself into treacherous situations just to educate us on what is happening around the world. She shows us how determination and grit can get a girl far, and I don’t believe she is truly credited enough for the vital role she plays in educating us on topics we wouldn’t, otherwise, have a clue about.
Stacey Dooley tends to base her documentaries on women and how women are treated in other countries, such as Russia and the Philippines (if you wish to watch any of these documentaries just go on BBC iPlayer and type in “Stacey Dooley”, and take your pick). The reason I mention Stacey Dooley is that it was her documentaries and a quote from Maisie Williams “there is no such thing as feminists, only men who are sexist.” That got me thinking: Is Maisie right, is it just sexists and the rest of the population? And if Feminism does exist, do we really understand Feminism anymore? Well, here is my attempt at an answer.
Here is the definition of feminism:
“Feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”
Simply put, it means the public support of women’s rights on the grounds of equality for both men and women. “Both men and women” here is where the misconception lies, I think some people believe feminism is just about women and women’s rights, and yes to some extent that’s true, but ultimately it is about finding a balance in rights between men and women. I believe that we have lost this idea of equality or seem to pick and choose when feminism suits our situation. For example, why is it women that claim to be feminists still expect a man to pay for her dinner every time they go out, or to hold a door open for her, but not repay the favor? These are just some of the issues I have thought about. To me, as a person who refers to herself as a “feminist,” I would never expect a man to pay for my meal, nor would I ever not hold the door open for a man because he was a man; to me that completely defeats the purpose of everything women have fought for, asking to be equals then throwing it back in their face when we choose. It’s almost derogatory to ourselves, let alone the men.
Moreover, what about men who are fighting for the custody of their child/children? They rarely get custody even in the direst of situations, with only 13.5 percent of single households in the UK in 2012 headed by fathers. Some women use their “I’m fragile and innocent cards” and manipulate situations to their advantage. Now, of course, I would be naive to believe this always happened, but it does. The way I look at it is if we women were in the shoes of these men, we would be outraged; nowadays we are so focused on the equalities we as women don’t have, we forget what equalities men have in comparison to women. I think for me the biggest issue in this area is mental health and emotions. We women take for granted the fact we can openly talk out about our emotions; for men mental health is an unspoken subject, and that is why men hold the higher percentage of suicides at 78 percent out of 6,233 suicides in 2013. There isn’t enough encouragement out there for men to speak out and seek help if they are suffering, and part of this is the reliance on men to be there for their wives, but who is there for the men, the husbands?
However, don’t get me wrong. There are still huge gaps between women’s rights and men’s rights. For example, in the pay gap, typically a man's wage raises by 20.8 percent in the same job for 20 years, compared to a woman whose wages will go up by 17.5 percent, and for modern day this is unacceptable. Why is this gap still present in 2018, in a world where we are able to reach Mars? So many women are discriminated against in the workplace, like in engineering where women are just turned away before they get through the door, but then I sit back and think our problems are minor in comparison to other countries. Russia recently decriminalized some domestic violences, again something that should not be happening in 2018. Russia was one of the first countries to bring the vote in for women and to send them to space and yet they are rapidly reversing in their policies towards women. Another example is the Philippines, a country where it is a perilous place to be a woman, through fear of upsetting your husband and him killing you.
Overall, I believe we more privileged countries have lost focus slightly on the true meaning of feminism, as we don’t appreciate that it is about men and women being equal. Also, I believe that we are hitting a decline in women’s rights in other countries, which could lead to a domino effect, causing even the privileged countries to creep back in time, to a time where women are less important, and whether this is partly self-inflicted, we won’t know. To become more equal in our societies, we need to focus on making each other equal, men and women offering support to each other, whether that be splitting the bill or getting your husband/father/son/etc to open up or by standing up for the women you love, who gave birth to you. It’s time to close the gap!