This morning I was reading an article in the September 18th issue of the Time magazine- Firsts: Women Who are Changing the World.
Nothing makes me happier than reading about women who have not only broken through the glass ceiling but soared way beyond it. These women are proving that things are changing and that women are now given the opportunity to make and remake the world. We are allowed to have an influence.
But, while reading this article, I couldn’t ignore the prissy little voice at the back of my head saying “Would there ever be a feature titled “Men who are changing the world”?”
There are many men who are doing amazing things in the development of our world for the advantage of different genders, sexualities, cultures and so on. However, I couldn’t help but to think that the fact that there was such a feature to begin with, proves that inequalities of the genders still exist. Women are acknowledged for making their mark because it’s rarity makes it worthy of praise.
Shit! Does this make me a feminazi? Why can’t I just be proud to read about these advancements in gender equality?
Of course I am proud, I am simply acknowledging that there are still plenty glass ceilings waiting to be shattered. Actually, plenty glass ceilings that shouldn’t exist in the first place (but that’s a story for another day!)
Being called a feminist is loaded with negative connotations to the point where it becomes an insult. A person who is labeled as a feminist can be equated to a radical extremist; a terrorist. Dare I say, a femin-nazi?!
The term femi-nazi has recently begun to circulate in the mainstream media. This term compares a woman (or man’s!) efforts to fight for gender equality to that of the Nazi regime. Ultimately, comparing the fight for the rights of gender equality and democracy to genocide. The genocide of 11 million people.
Now, we have to mention those girls who refuse to wear bras because it’s a consumerist expectations of a male market. The women who refuse to shave their legs because the razor was initially marketed for men until there was an opportunity to use women to further extend their target market. The women who believe that makeup is merely to aesthetically please the male gaze and therefore do not apply it. The list goes on….
Everybody is placed on a different continuum on the scale of radicalisation and we have to admire and praise everybody who fights for the progression of our world in whichever way they believe will be the most effective.
All I am saying is, there is a way to be a femi-nice! A high heel, lipstick wearing diva, whose actions are directly linked to striving for an equal society, for herself and for her ‘sisters’.
In Chimamanda Mgazi Adichie’s We Should all be Feminists, she quotes , “The higher you go, the fewer women there are.”
Until this pattern breaks, those numbers are doomed to shake.
How can we change this pattern?
I believe that parenting, and the ways in which we are conditioned into being, based on our gender, sets the tone for this imbalance.
At birth, before we are even able to open our eyes, the doctor peeks between our legs and with that, our social destiny is determined. From then on, the boys are swaddled in blue blankets and the girls in pink blankets and so it begins….
From then, we are conditioned to perform a very specific masculinity or femininity based on our sex. Men are expected to epitomise strength. Their manliness forces them to fear vulnerability and cowardice.
Women? In some sense, we have to cater to this fear. The more that men need to prove their masculinity and strength, the more subordinate us women are forced to become.
“We grow up to be women who are taught to silence ourselves and not say what we really feel and mean” (Adichie) ,to cater to this fear; to maintain this masculinity.
Women are taught that compromise is “just what we do.” (Adichie)
The inequality between the genders begins to translate into competition between women. Women learn that we have to compete for the attention of men.
The result? A gender that can really do with some lovin’!
To again quote Andiche, What if we were to stop internalising and unlearn these gender expectations and base leadership on innovation, creativity and ambition? While in the days of the caveman, the strongest (biologically, the male) would undeniably be the leader, as the survival of the followers was based on his strength. Today, strength is not what makes leaders, and the qualities that do make leaders are exclusive to the hormones that one possesses.
As women, let’s start small by loving each other. By proving that there is no need to compete. Let’s be female- loving rather than male -hating. We don’t need to be ungroomed extremists to be heard. Just conscious (seeing a theme here?)
Let’s be proud to fight for our gender. For ourselves, for our sisters and for one day, our daughters.
“Let’s worry less about fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering glass ceilings.” (Melissa Marchonna, digital marketer for the New York Jets)
Better yet, let’s shatter them to the point of non-existence (while still wearing your favourite pairs of heels).
If you’re as proud as me, you can have a look into buying from the #FeministTeeProject. (Shout out to my supportive boyfriend for buying me a sweatshirt!) R100,00 from the sale of every tee goes to The Frida Hartley Shelter for Women.
Lastly, please check out my feminist crush Chimamanda Mgazi Adichie’s Ted Talk: We Should all be Feminist. If I didn’t convince you, I’m confident that she will 😉
Until next Monday,