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To those of you who have continued to read past the intro title, a big thumbs up to you, you’re a beautiful fucking person. A lot of people will have switched off as soon as they saw the “F word” because still, too many people, it’s a dirty word that inspires little more than an eye roll.
If online opinion is anything to go by, it's still seen as the unionisation of man-haters, hell-bent on diminishing the classic view of masculinity*—women who do little more than complain about petty things such as equal pay. The anti-feminists tell themselves that women have been granted the freedom to vote and work so what the hell else is there for them to still be bitching about?
Well, the truth is, a lot.
There are a multitude of issues associated with gender inequality that are not too trivial for consideration and contrary to popular belief, the reason why people, such as myself, associate with being a feminist is not solely concerned with how well we are treated and represented in the western world. As a white, British millennial, I know I have it pretty good compared to countless other females in the world, but being a feminist isn’t about only concerning yourself with what’s happening on your own doorstep and to you personally.
All Women, Everywhere
Feminism is about standing up for all women, everywhere. It’s a global movement and the beauty of it is it doesn’t cost you a thing! You don’t have to trade in your masculinity in order to feel compassion for the struggles of the opposite sex. Nor do you have to sacrifice your environmental concerns to ensure you have room to accommodate gender equality. Amazingly, we humans have the capacity to hold an array of opinions, so it’s astounding to me that anyone would deny or even be against believing in something that champions humanity being treated fairly.
The trouble as I see it is, we are getting further away from civility in our day to day encounters and with every step we take; we get further away from not just our understanding of what it means to be a feminist, but our ability to behave as one also. The internet is drenched in examples of this.
One of my favourite websites, Bored Panda, posted an article about a mother who wakes up early every morning to prepare her children encouragingly creative meals. Sacrificing the extra sleep, she decided that as a lover of cookery and all things food-related, that this was the outlet she would use to go the extra mile for her children. Whereas other mothers would perhaps prioritise physical attendance at every parents evening or paying through the nose for after-school activities, this particular woman decided to blend her skills with fantastic results and find the fun in the everyday.
However, the response she got was horrifying, thanks to a torrent of bitter mums who set out to call her bluff. As mothers themselves, they were bemused by her skills, unsure of how she could possibly put this much effort into something so routine. Is she on drugs? Overcompensating for other shortcomings? Bored? An insomniac? An over attentive, smothering parent? “She clearly doesn’t prioritise their health” blah blah blah. The list of bitter remarks was endless.
Irritated by the immediacy of their negativity, I decided to weigh in on the argument and point out that in life, it’s each to their own and as mothers they should stick together and feel inspired, not threatened by this woman’s creativity.
I was almost instantaneously shut down and told that it was clear I had no children and zero clues about being a mum and therefore had no right to comment.
The woman who so readily cut me down and the gaggle of fools who supported her comment were right, I don’t have children. However, I pointed out that as a person who would one day like to have a child, I sure as hell would rather strive to be like the mother creating the fun-filled dishes as opposed to those spewing venom at her. I think we could all take bets on whose children would develop better attitudes in later life, couldn’t we?
More than their immediate hatefulness of my opinion, the thing that really ground my gears was that instead of cheering their fellow sister on in the field she felt most comfortable in, they went for the jugular, trying to find flaws in her plans. How fucking demented is that?
I was later informed by an Australian that these women were displaying what is commonly known as Tall Poppy Syndrome, a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented and attacked because their talents have elevated them above their peers. Isn’t that just utterly sad? Here is a woman who through all life’s stresses and uncertainties has tried to find the beauty in the mundane and we, as women, jumped straight down her fucking throat for it. Where’s the solidarity when you need it? Forget feminism, it’s every woman for herself!
The thing is this happens all the time. If any of those women had taken a second to just stop and think about the situation, they would have known that their judgements were unfounded and I believe the majority of them would have refrained from commenting altogether. We know no good comes from hating one another, but for some reason, our immediate go-to place is a place where we pit ourselves against other women and feel the need to compete.
Understanding the Basics
We are so detached from our solidarity with each other and what it means to be a feminist, that we miss the part where being a feminist can mean something as simple as giving a fellow female a thumbs up for an achievement instead of a belittling statement.
I believe feminism is hugely important to world developments and we need to be able to respond correctly, at this basic level, if we ever want it to have the power to move mountains.
So yes, I am a feminist and in case you’re reading this and wondering whether or not you should believe yourself to be a feminist too, here are some of my reasons for why I choose to proudly call myself one.
- I believe that all people are equal.
- I believe everyone should be granted the freedom to express themselves in whichever way they choose too, so long as it doesn’t cause harm to others.
- I believe as women we should celebrate our differences as much as our similarities.
- I believe that a man and woman who carry out the same role and deliver the same service, should absolutely be earning the same rate of pay.
- I want to see an end to global sex trafficking.
- I am wholeheartedly against the systematic rape of women in conflict zones.
- I am against FGM and child marriages.
- I don’t want another girl like Malala Yusafzai to be shot in the head for wanting to go to school.
The Feminist's Role
So if you agree with even one of those statements then guess what, you ARE a feminist. Don’t panic though; it isn’t anything to be ashamed of, quite the opposite actually. To be brave enough to stand out as a feminist means that you understand the need for equality in the world and value the importance of both halves of the human race. The more people who can stand up and support feminism, the less scary a statement it becomes.
This doesn’t mean you have to run out and burn your bra’s or join a protest either, it simply means taking the time to offer a friend or female family member a congratulations on a personal achievement; biting your tongue when you feel that pang of jealousy take over, or even hold off commenting on another person’s life choices altogether and realising that just because you’ve been conditioned to think their abilities lower your own self-worth, it doesn’t make it so.
Once we stop being scared of the idea of feminism and embrace female equality, we can start finding and elevating the female Albert Einstein’s and the Michael Massimino’s, the award-winning National Geographical photographers or even the masterpiece painters.
We all have the power to create ripples in the world—wouldn’t you want yours to have the power to spread good?
*The biggest mistake we make as human beings is generalise. Yes, there are some extreme feminists out there who see equality as dominance over men but they do not represent or speak for the movement of feminism and what believing in that movement means to the rest of us.