Feminism. It is a big word. Almost like a swear to some. Annoying or even frightening to others. But most importantly, it is misunderstood by many. According to “Dictionary.com”, the definition for feminism is the following: a doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
If you read that statement well, you probably understood that what feminists are fighting for is total equity between men and women on a daily basis. However, even with a definition from the dictionary, some of us still have an inexact idea of what feminism means. Feminism is not wanting men to submit to women. It is not wanting women to take over the world. Feminism is wanting simple equality for every individual either it is in workplaces or in the streets. It is as simple as that.
With that said, no, equality has not been achieved yet and, yes, feminism is still important in 2019. Here is why.
The first thing to take into account is the wage gap (inequality of remuneration between people doing the same job). According to the data from the Labour Force Survey, in 2017, Canadian females from ages 15 and up were paid 0.87$ compared 1$ for a male. This situation has been going on for quite a while and is still going on even with the laws that forbid it. Something else that occurs in the work industry is an employer refusing a job to a woman because she might get pregnant. For the employer, an employee getting pregnant means losing a worker for as long as 18 weeks (at least in Québec.)
The second thing to address is the objectification of the woman’s body. It is such a common phenomenon that most of us don’t even see it anymore. Just to give you a little idea of how far gender roles go, nowadays, it is normal to walk into a children’s clothing store and find onesies destined for baby boys on which are written things such as “Ladies Man” or “Gift To The Ladies”. Another outrageous example of this reality is that it is possible for you to buy a child-sized thong for your female offspring because, as weird as it seems, these kinds of underwear are manufactured for them. This is an excellent argument to prove that gender roles and rape culture are forced upon us as soon as we come to this world. And if those examples are still not enough, how many times have you heard a guy-rapist say that the girl was asking for it by not wearing a bra or having short shorts on? Again, this proves that women are way too often only considered as an object of man’s desire.
Lastly, another all too common thing is that loads of men think girls are dressing up for them. But has it ever occurred to you that girls often wear makeup not only to please boys but as a form of empowerment? Because man, when you dress good, you feel good. It happens all the time. A good representation of this is when you go on social media and go through a girl’s comments on one of her selfies…It is not rare seeing a comment or two in which a guy tells the girl to stop trying so hard.
Now that we have seen what are a few of the main issues for women, let’s see why feminism isn’t only a girls’ thing.
Let’s put this into context. You are walking around town with a few friends, looking around for new clothes (hopefully not kid-sized thongs). It is a beautiful sunny and hot day. All around you, people are strolling casually. Some are wearing jeans, others are in sundresses. Suddenly your eye catches something odd. You don’t know what it is but then you put your finger on it. A man on the opposite sidewalk is wearing a skirt as well as a crop top and makeup. “It is not Halloween”, you think while pointing it out to your friends.
This shows why feminism isn’t one-sided. As a reminder, just bear in mind that feminists are asking for equality. But in this example, where is the equality? Because if it were a woman who was wearing the outfit mentioned, nobody would have cared. Another thing is that when reading the example in the paragraph before, you probably assumed that the people wearing sundresses were all girls.
If feminism is asking for equality between men and women, then why wouldn’t we fight for men to have the same rights as women too? There are still a lot of stereotypes surrounding boys doing more “girly” things.
We have all heard things such as “Eww…I would never date a boy who dances ballet!” When men say sexist things, they usually add an “I’m not sexist but…” to their sentence to give themselves clear conscience. However, when talking about guys who break gender roles, nobody ever adds anything of this kind because “reverse sexism” and toxic masculinity are such unknown phenomena.
And that, fellow human, is why not only girls can be feminists. We have to stop thinking of feminism as women whining about having to cook dinner for their husband or going shirtless around town to make heads turn (it is important to understand why they go shirtless though. This gesture as two main significations. The first one is that some women feel empowered by nudity. It is also to denounce the fact that men can remove their shirts and nobody cares.) What is important to remember is that we can all do something to make the situation of equality improve. It can be by stopping to care so much if a boy is wearing a dress or if a girl is topless in the streets. We should stop bringing each other down because it is definitely not how we are going to make the world a better place to live in.
Written by: Évelyne Tremblay