By Vivien Pua
Feminism. A word with a meaning that many misconstrue and morph into something terrible and taboo. When in reality it is simply the belief that equality between the sexes should be total and complete.
Now, in 2016, women who were once denied the right to vote, can be candidates to become world leaders is evidence that the opportunities for women have improved exponentially. However, why is it that women, girls and people in general, are still scared to call themselves feminists?
I am a feminist.
Gasp! You read that correctly I am a feminist. As women and girls, we should be able to say it loud and proud. But not just us, everyone should be able to say it. We should not be deterred by the misinformed judgement we will receive from ignorant minds. We should not be deterred by the non- feminine and man-hating stereotype surrounding feminists. We should not be deterred by the Internet trolls calling us ‘Femi-Nazis’ because we passionately believe in equality for all women.
We are a band of powerful individuals who believe that there should be no pay gap between men and women for the same work. That there should be equal opportunities for men and women in the workforce. That the need for education of girls is just as strong as the need for the education of boys. That women should not be reduced to objects in music videos and on magazine covers.
The world is saturated with unwitting feminists. With social media so present in our lives, teenagers look increasing to celebrities as role models. Actress Shailene Woodley (Divergent), stated in an interview that she is not a feminist because she does not support the idea of “women over men”. However, she believes that women should not settle for anything less than equality. She pummels sexist interviewers and slams objectifying articles.
She is a feminist.
Yet she refuses to use the term because the stigma attached to it seems just too horrendous. The fact that she refuses to use the word just enforces the stigma, which is then put into the minds of her 1.3 million fans, of which over 70% are young women.
Instead, we should look to Harry Potter actress, Emma Watson who at the young age of 24 is a United Nations Women ambassador. She has initiated a movement called #heforshe. Their goal is to bring together one-half of humanity in support of the other, for the benefit of all. Watson believes, “that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” That is the essence of feminism.
The ignorance surrounding the concept of feminism is so deeply ingrained that we should not blame the ones who dare not use the word. You should lead the way by being courageous and fearlessly standing up for what you believe in. You should take action when you see even subtle inequalities. You should not settle for anything less than utter and complete equality between the sexes. You should be the one that abolishes the stigma. You can take part in changing the world. All you need to start, is a sentence as simple as:
I am a feminist.