First and foremost, feminism is equality for all genders. Even if we live in a magical society where there is absolute gender equality, we still need feminism. We need feminism to keep ourselves from regressing back to the sexist society that existed for thousands of years, and we need feminism to further push our understanding of gender identity and equality.
I personally didn’t quite realize how hard it is to grow up as a girl until middle school. I was new to the internet, and discovered what exactly feminism was. I had my first boyfriend at the time (yet keep in mind I was twelve, so more like “boyfriend”), and he seemed to like me a lot. I mean, if you count telling someone they’re nice and not-slutty (which is totally all that defines a good person), then yeah he liked me. Because of this, I felt like it would be cool to engage him in feminist conversation, because who wouldn’t want to talk about that?
Ah, to be young and naive.
I got teased. I was told, “make me a sandwich,” or “at least try.” Sticking up for myself was setting myself up to be scrutinized even more. I couldn’t curse, for it was unladylike. I couldn’t start a giant line dance in the middle of the quad, because it was “weird.” Oh, but a boy wearing an Easter bunny costume to school (which, by the way, is WAY weirder), is “funny.”
And then I took a look around me, and a look at my life. Gender roles had been hammered into my mind since birth. Sure, I loved princesses and Barbies, but I loved Legos and Star Wars too. My love for Star Wars and Pokémon was apparently so rare “for a girl” that I got looks of disbelief from my male peers. My love for princesses and the color pink was made fun of because it was “too girly.”
I thoroughly convinced myself that I wasn’t good at math (an insecurity that persists to this day), and constantly criticized my body in the mirror. A strict dress code was enforced at my middle school, but it only applied to girls. Once, a friend of mine was pulled out of testing because she wore a sheer shirt with a tank top underneath.
Looks pretty bleak, right? This is nothing compared to what LGBT+ women, women of color, and women of past generations have gone through. But we are not here to complain about our personal struggles (which is what I just did a pretty good job of doing), but rather celebrate our strength with Women’s History Month.
Here’s a photo gallery put together by my friend Megan Vlietstra (check her out on Instagram- @meganvvphotography).
Here’s to refusing to accept your apparent incapabilities as a math student. Here’s to loving your body, despite the corporations and media that want you to hate it so, so badly. Here’s to embracing pink and your identity as a girl. As the legendary feminist icon Beyoncé once said, who runs this world? Girls.
All photo credit goes to Megan.