Fabletters on Feminism: An Introduction

Dear Ceanray,

I feel like in these past few months, I have become increasingly aware of the inequalities that exist in our society. My newfound awareness of these issues began in English class, where we often have discussions and debates about inequalities, particularly gender inequality.

I have always known that such issues existed, but I never thought much of them. “Feminist” was a word with as little meaning to me as “tax receipt”. The notation that I myself was affected by what was happening was also virtually meaningless to me. But this all changed.

Little by little, my definition of feminism began to colour itself in. It was not at all accurate, though. I used to think that being a feminist was a bad thing – bad in what sense, I do not know.

Discussing issues of gender inequality in my English class made me realize that it was all wrong in my head. Feminism was not a bad thing. It was not hating all men, or denying that you were a women, or any of the other crazy images of it that I had in my head. It is standing up for women’s rights; rights which should be equal to those of men, but are not.

My initial views on feminism were quickly changed, by figures such as Emma Watson and Taylor Swift. My opinion was so easily swayed because I realized that gender inequality did affect me (but not as much as it affected other girls and women). Despite the surge in positive feminist influences, many people still retain a stubborn view on the subject, one which coincides with my original views: that feminism is a bad thing.

I can’t helped but wonder what shaped my initial views on feminism. If we could pinpoint what was spewing out these misguided reasonings for feminism, perhaps we could work to change it, and therefore give the correct impression of the word right from the get-go.

Most likely, it was thanks to media and advertising that I thought feminism was a bad thing. But I think it goes further than that: because there’s no advertisements that directly say the words “feminism is a bad thing”. I think it is more the way media portrays women; and the fact that because the feminist movement wants to change this, it is a bad thing.

Anyone who disagrees with the media is automatically labelled “bad”, and also “different”. The media shows us look we “should” be, and if we do not fit into it then we are different. Bad different. And because more and more, women are realizing that we do not have to fit into the moulds that media has created for us, more and more women are defying stereotypes. It’s hard to defy “bad different”, though. I know that as a young child, I wouldn’t want that phrase to define me. But then again, I wouldn’t want the media’s image of a women to define me, either.

What do you think?

Sherina

Dear Sherina,

Up until recently, I too had a very ill-informed idea of what feminism is and how it is relevant to my life. Like you, I pictured feminists as angry women who hated men, didn’t wear bras and chose not to shave — images that I simply couldn’t relate to.

It was around that time that I was leaving English class when I noticed a small poster in my classroom, with a woman holding up a sign that read “I need feminism because society tells women “don’t get raped”, instead of telling men “don’t rape”.

That statement piqued my interest as to what a broader definition of feminism might include. I read articles online describing “SlutWalks” being organised in cities across Canada. The movement was created after a Toronto police officer suggested to a group of female university students “not to dress like sluts” to avoid being raped. This angered me to the very core of my being. A woman should be able to walk around in a short skirt with her friends without fear of being raped. I would hope that the very suggestion that a woman’s clothing choices might affect her chances of being raped sounds as ridiculous to you as it does to me, Sherina. Tell that to the victims of child rapists, no child “asks” to be raped.

You may be wondering what relevance this has to me. Well, as I got older I began to develop a more “womanly” figure that can sometimes draw unwanted attention. For example, this September as I was walking to a high school football game a group of men rolled down their car window and yelled “NICE TITS” at me before speedily driving away. It was broad daylight, but I was alone and this scared me. My first instinct was to look down and see if I what I was wearing might have somehow provoked such a crude incident. I was wearing a baggy blue hoodie and leggings. The fact that I thought it was somehow my fault that these guys felt it was okay to yell that at me is why I need feminism.

What are your thoughts?

Ceanray

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