How many times have you heard someone say ‘I believe in equality but I’m not a feminist’? A few too many I’m sure.
Many people are reluctant to brand themselves as a ‘feminist’ because of the past limitations associated with the label and its ‘negative associations’ with ‘feminazis’.
But these worn out conversations are holding us back. Rather than wasting energy skirting around feminism as a label, or constantly justifying its use people, we should be focusing on taking feminist action. Feminism is not just a word, and it’s definitely not about announcing to everyone you meet: ‘I’m a feminist!’ – it’s about actively trying to change the world for the better. So let’s stop agonising over vocabulary. Here are some ideas of how we can all incorporate feminist action in to our everyday lives:
- Cut out sexist language. It’s time to think outside the box of ‘grow some balls’ or ‘cry like a girl’. We’re all guilty of using sexist vocabulary without thinking. Unfortunately, these aren’t just ‘harmless sayings’, they’re damaging, dull and serve to reinforce worn out patriarchal ideals. Let’s try our best to ditch them for good.
- Bend the gender rules. Gender roles are constricting and nonsensical – the stigma attached to stay-at-home dads or ‘ice-queen’ female executives are just two examples. Instead of being pigeonholed by societies’ prescriptions, concentrate on expressing yourself and living your life your way.
- Do some self-reflection. Don’t listen to anyone who says thinking isn’t active. Making an effort to unlearn our internalised sexist attitudes is absolutely crucial. We can’t strive for equality if we’re still believing patriarchal ideologies.
- Call-out sexism. This is such an important one and it’s actually very easy to do. It doesn’t mean getting angry or shouting. Rather, respectfully disagree with or question other people’s toxic views, and refuse to ignore active sexism. The first part of the battle is actually noticing sexism, as it has become so normalised, but I’ve found the more you think about it, the more that everyday sexism becomes glaringly obvious.
- Be a ‘bitch’. This may seem controversial but hear me out. If you’re a woman you’ve probably been unjustly called a ‘bitch’ countless times. So let’s reclaim this word and start putting ourselves first more. Be rude and answer back to men who don’t respect your boundaries, put your welfare first and be as assertive as hell when shooting for your goals.
- Love and solidarity. Remind your female friends they don’t owe men anything, that they can achieve great things and are gorgeous regardless of society’s impossible standards. And let your male friends know that it’s okay to show emotions, that they aren’t weak for needing to share their problems. The more you tell your friends these things, the more you will believe them about yourself too.
- Keep on learning. I view feminism as a journey on which I never stop learning. So next time you’re stuck for something to do, perhaps consider researching an aspect of feminism you’re less familiar with. Of course, try to pay attention to the accounts of those less privileged than you in order to respect and understand their experiences, feminism is a global issue.
- Talk! This is an obvious one, but it really is important to continue having conversations with different people about issues of inequality. Discussion is invaluable and easy to fit in to everyday conversations with friends and family.
These are all just ideas and the list is definitely not exhaustive. They are just some steps that anyone can take – regardless of age, gender, nationality and lifestyle – to fight for gender equality.