Being a feminist has been given a bad rap for a while now. If someone asks are you a feminist? The question is always delivered with a passing judgment of who you are as a person. To the point where a lot of people will no longer say they are a feminist, they are simply someone who stands up for human rights and equality… which is exactly what a feminist is.
On the flip side, I for one would be proud to say I am a feminist. However, I feel as if I'm not doing enough to call myself one. Where is the line? Do I need to shave my head, but grow out my armpit hair? Throw out all my makeup and declare that I will no longer work in a place without equality… which is virtually everywhere. Or are we seeing a new feminist emerge? One who is subtler with her rebellion, slowly and consciously changing the minds of people around them through the way they live their own lives.
I will always admire the women that lead the way to women being able to vote, being able to go to university, standing up in a world where they weren't heard and saying, I am here, listen to me. In some ways I wish we had more of that, more women coming together to stand up and loudly say "it's still not enough, we are still not equal" It’s as if we have moved in a different direction. But the important part is, we are still moving.
So what does being a feminist mean to me? It means speaking out about the sexual abuse I faced as a fifteen-year-old girl, it means cutting off derogatory jokes against women, it means dressing not for the benefit of the male gaze or how magazines tell us to dress.
And it means throwing out the bras! As women, we spend so much time being uncomfortable, from the bra that digs into our ribs, to the super tight skirt that doesn't allow your insides enough space for lunch, to the heels that over time shorten your Achilles, and put our backs out of alignment. Just to fit into this patriarchal society within which we know, we will get further in our careers, in our love lives, in everyday life if we conform to the system. Men don't have to wear a cup around their balls, ensuring their package always looks voluptuous. So why the hell are we expected to for a part of our body that is truly useless until we have kids.
So much of our skill set it based upon our looks. How often do you hear about a female reporter on the television being trolled on the internet for the outfit she has worn, while she is talking about something serious such as the ongoing civil wars in the middle east! Have you heard of this happening to a man? If that woman were in a potato sack, her story would still be relevant.
Sadly women as well only continue this notion. Women are the ones that run the magazines that tell us to be thinner, taller, blonde hair, brown hair, anything but the you that you are now. Women are the ones that judge each other based on their dress size, not their incredible gifts. We all need to take a step back and start seeing the women around us for their intelligence, not their bodies.
The fight is not over, while it may be a rumble underneath the belly of everyday life it's still there. There are still problems that I'm not ok with. I am not ok with being seen as a sexual object, not a human being. I am not ok with being judged by my appearance, not my intelligence. I am not ok with feeling the pressure to dress a certain way so I fit into the current trend of what body shape we should be lusting over. I am not ok with being paid less for the role I am in then my male counterparts or not being offered that pay rise as I "didn’t ask for it". I am not ok with being constantly undermined then given a look of surprise when something other then dribble comes out of my mouth. And I am not ok with the content media reinforcing the ideas that we should look and act a certain way.
So I am going to continue not to wear a bra. I am going to continue to be comfortable whenever I put on a piece of clothing. I am not going to act stupid, or small so that a man doesn't feel intimidated by my presence. And I will not stand down when I am called a bitch or crazy or any word meant to degrade me.
With every day that passes I will in my own quiet way say fuck you to the system. My actions may not be massive, but that doesn't mean they will have no impact.
I am a Feminist.
Photography by Lila Marvell.