3.08.2015

The F Word



The F word. People are scared of it and it makes them uncomfortable. No, it's not the typical F word that you may be thinking. It's another word that's actually pretty harmless but the meaning often gets misconstrued. 

What is this F word, you ask?

Feminist. 

From the dictionary, the definition is simply a person that advocates for "social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men". Pretty simple, right? No bra burning, no man-hating, no yelling. Just someone that wants equal rights. What's so scary about that? So many people that I have come across academically and professionally have a really hard time claiming that word as their own. But in all actuality, I find it hard to believe that most people disagree with that statement. Of course, there are plenty of people in this world with skewed views of how men should treat women. For the most part, however, I think most people would agree that women should be treated equally. So why is it so difficult to admit you're a feminist? 

I didn't always identify as a feminist. I don't think I even heard the term until I was in college. And once I did hear the word, I didn't think it had anything to do with me. I thought a feminist was someone that goes to rallies and professes their girl power mentality in front of large groups of people. I didn't realize the simplicity of what being a feminist truly meant. But as I have come into my own as an adult, I have developed a passion for it. I have been lucky enough to have had many girl-positive opportunities come my way - such as being an actor in The Vagina Monologues, traveling to Nicaragua for a solidarity project, being a member of an all-female leadership organization, and of course, leading Girl Rising. So now, more than ever, I claim that word as my own. It guides all of my thoughts and my actions on my daily basis. Feminist inspires me, moves me, and guides me in the pursuit of a life I have always imagined. 

I am constantly seeing things through a feminist lens and wondering how they are affecting my girls. Since I have started Girl Rising, I seem to notice how girls are represented in the media even more so than I already did. It pains me to know that my girls are growing up in a culture where girls are taught that the only way they can feel good about themselves in by posting suggestive pictures online. Girls today are taught to act for the attention of the male gaze, rather than act in accordance to their own dreams and aspirations. For example, the other night I was at a Rockets game. I couldn't help but notice the juxtaposition of the male athletes with the female dancers. The athletes are showing off their masculinity by running up and down the court while the audience is idolizing their every move. On the side of the court are the dancers waving their hands in the air wearing hardly anything at all. And although they are very talented at what they do, most people in the audience are looking at only one thing - their body. I've seen this kind of situation a million times but it frustrates me more than ever now that I have this club. I see these girls every week, running into my classroom, full of life and a sense of freedom in which they feel like they can conquer the world. But the reality is that they're 7, 8, and 9. I know that someday they will be faced with the challenges of being a girl in this world that wants nothing more than to put them down. A world that cares more about their body than their brain. A world that makes them feel like they are nothing without a male partner. It frustrates me to know that my girls are seeing this. I want them to know that they can be anything they want to be, regardless of their gender. 

Because of all of this, I decided to teach the girls the F word this week. I told them my story of being a feminist and how it has impacted my life in a million positive ways. When I told them what it meant, they all immediately identified with it themselves. I gave them the task of spreading the word and sharing their feminist story with others. The more that we share it, the less stigmatized the word will be. I encourage all of you to do the same! 




Be a somebody. Not somebody's

Happy International Women's Day! Share your feminism with someone that needs to know :) 

  

  


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