This is part of a series that covers our personal paths into feminism and/or why feminism matters to us. If you’d like to write a blog post on your discovery of feminism, please drop us an email!
I didn’t realise I was a feminist until University. I didn’t suddenly become a feminist. Once I realised that feminism wasn’t as big and scary (dare I say brutish?) as I’d always thought, and that actually it was all about equality and social ideas, I realised I’d been a feminist all along. And once I’d looked in the mirror and declared aloud that I was a feminist, life went back to relative normality.
Then, these tiny thoughts started leaking through to my consciousness – ‘What should I be doing?’ ‘Does this mean I shouldn’t ever get married – wear heels – make-up?’ ‘Should I correct people when they say sexist remarks, even when they don’t mean anything by what they say?’ Suddenly this new label was weighed down by all these questions, questions that I know now different feminists have different views on, which is okay. I’m ashamed to say that a part of me thought “Isn’t it easier to just shut-up and put-up?”. Thankfully that thought was fleeting, because equality, in all its forms, is worth every effort.
The more you read on feminism, the more it becomes apparent that nothing should dictate your life, not men, not social norms and not labels. The fact that I choose to label myself as a feminist doesn’t mean that I can’t get married, if I decide that I want to. For instance, for me marriage is about presenting as an equal unit, though I don’t feel obliged to get married, and I can completely understand those who choose not to do it.
To paraphrase a puppet, ‘It’s not easy being equalists’ . The best piece of advice that helped me to answer a lot of the questions was this: feminism is not about changing who you are, but changing the way you and others are viewed and treated. When you’re not sure if something is sexist (and it isn’t always obvious), you simply ask, would it be different if I were a man? If the answer is ‘Probably, yes’ then it’s something that should be addressed. This inequality isn’t limited to females; gender flipping can be a useful technique for men and women. If a male went to work and said that he could do with some emotional support due to the stress of the job, how would his co-workers treat him?
Feminism is a two way street, for everyone to walk down. If we can just persuade everyone to pick up their feet and open their eyes, life just might be a little simpler.
– Sam Arnold