Feminism isn’t an underground club. Feminists don’t meet up in car parks and Brad Pitt isn’t our leader. The first rule isn’t that there are no rules, although close. Similarly, we don’t wear pink on Wednesdays, you CAN wear a tank top two days in a row and ‘fetch’ may or may not be happening. Contrary to popular belief, feminism is not exclusive.
Within all movements there are the variations of people affected by the issue, the extremes to which people take their beliefs and so on. There are people within feminism that argue who can and cannot be feminists, and what feminists can and cannot do. From disputing whether men can be feminists, questioning those who are feminine and individuals who do not identify with either. If I were to break this down in the simplest form possible it would go a little something like this:
Sarah could feel the pressures of objectification when reading her magazines and this could hugely impact her body confidence.
Sarah’s friend Paul could think it’s unfair that derogatory comments are yelled at his sister in the street.
Paul’s dad Steve could suffer from mental health issues but due to years of being told to “man up” and “stop being a girl,” he suppresses those feelings out of fear.
We could argue who is directly impacted more, but ultimately, Sarah, Paul and Steve all need feminism. If Sarah wore make up and removed her body hair, would that mean she could not be a feminist? No. If Sarah were born a sex she no longer identifies with, would that mean should could not be a feminist? Of course not.
The UK has the sixth largest pay gap between men and women in the EU, one in five women have been subjected to sexual violence and one in four women will experience domestic violence in their life time. In some cultures females are prohibited from an education, a woman is raped every 20 minutes in India and in the UK alone 20,000 young women are at risk of genital mutilation. I could go on, I could tell you about the girls as young as 8 that have been forced into marriage this year, and that in 10 countries around the world women are LEGALLY bound to their husbands. If you believe that there is injustice in these realities and that they must be changed – you’re a feminist.
There are no entry requirements into feminism. No tests, commitments or rules. No secret handshakes (sadly). All that is needed is the desire to have and raise awareness. Paul, Steve, and I both need feminism, and feminism needs you. We’re fighting inequality, not writing burn books.