Monday, 4 February 2013

Why I'm a feminist (prepare for a rant which knows no bounds)

I rocked a lot of pink as a child.

I don't remember ever having a defining "OMG, I'm a feminist" moment. It's pretty much always seemed the natural way of things. I am a woman, I like having the right to vote, I enjoy being able to attend school and university and I enjoy that, at the end of the day, it is down to me how I chose to live my life. All of these things would not have been possible without feminism. Without feminism there would be no right to vote, no right to education and no right to make my own choices. How on earth could I not be a feminist?

It scares me that so many people, and what scares me the most, that so many women don't seem to understand the importance of feminism. How so many seem to think that it's an outdated subject and that it should be left in the history books. To me that's like saying that we should stop discussing and objecting towards racism because slavery technically is abolished. And it scares me now more than ever because I can feel a hardening of the climate, the debate is getting nastier and I fear that we are regressing on so many levels.

I have had arguments regarding feminism with people, who as it turned out, didn't even know the meaning of the word. It is not, and I repeat NOT, a female struggle to enslave men. It is not a crusade for vengeance or the burning of bras. To be honest I do not care what you chose to do with your underwear (or body hair or shoes or any other insignificant detail you chose to attach to this debate). You can wear lace underwear, red lipstick and stilettos sharp enough to take someones eye out for all I care. And with regards to men, I fricking love them! Men are great, awesome and I have such I hopes for the sons of my friends who will become the men of the future. They will rock, as much as the daughters. And hopefully they will know the value of fighting for equality.

Because here's the thing; we're not there yet.
I myself live in one of the most equal countries in the world. I have the freedom of speech, to travel, to drive and to make every decision regarding my own body without any involvement from the government, the church or a male chaperon. Women of many countries can become prime ministers, presidents, heads of state. We can technically, rule the world. So when I say that I am a feminist I often get the question why. Why possibly could a Swedish, middle class woman feel the need to label herself in such a way? 

And as it feels so natural to be it's not always easy to explain. But essentially it's because there's still an issue. Globally, very much so. In some countries women are still seen as second class citizens. In some countries they are NOT allowed to drive, become politicians or decide over their own body. In some countries young girls are threatened with violence simply for wanting to go to school. 
And here, in my own part of the world, there is still very much an imbalance of power. 
Could it just be a biological fact, you may ask? Well, I don't see how biology causes this:
 I do not care if Lana want's to strut her naked stuff on the cover of a magazine, what I do care about is the context in which this is done. It disturbs me that initially I didn't even react, we are so used to naked women on the cover of magazines, it's institutionalized sexism have I ever seen it. Because most people don't even think twice about that on some level this might not be OK. This might not be the message we want sent out to young girls and boys. But still, we do. Daily, I might add.

Sexism is never, and will never be OK. It goes hand in hand with so many of the ugly sides of humanity. It goes hand in hand with violence and the notion that in some weird roundabout way, the female body is still a commodity. Something to be admired, touched, taken, bought. Grabbed, leered over. Violated.

I do not believe that the occasional naked photo of a female celebrity will cause men to go out and violate a woman. I frankly do not understand what makes ANYONE want to hurt another person in that way. I do not blame GQ for sexism, and I do not believe that half naked celebs will be the downfall of humanity. But I do believe that there is still so much room for change in how we perceive men and women and what values we install in the next generation. 

I strongly believe that there still is room for improvement. I still believe that there is a need for articles such as this, on how the male attitude to rape has been shaped, and such as this, on how young girls ideas of self is shaped by our very grown up world (in Swedish).

I don't think it's OK for a girl to automatically be frightened when she hears footsteps closing in on her as she is walking home on her own.
I don't think it's OK that the conviction rate for rape is so terrifyingly low.
I don't think it's OK for female journalists to recieve death threats or suggestions that they "just need to get laid" when they comment on male violence or just dare to divert from the norm.
I don't think it's OK that boys are being made to feel that they have to be hard in order to be real men.
I don't think it's OK that a girl who has multiple sex partners is considered a slut when no one raises an eye brow when a man sleeps around. 
I don't think it's OK that people believe that it's time to give up the fight and accept the way things are.

And that's why I'm a feminist. Because I see no other possible way of being.

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