‘You are not like other girls.’ This statement may be controversial, but it is important to discuss everything that is wrong with the so-called compliment. Time and time again, many people have used this sentence in an attempt to compliment girls - but it means quite the opposite. Compliments are supposed to make you feel better about yourself without putting others down.
Let us start by analyzing the statement. Firstly, it is setting up a negative picture for the woman by telling her that her gender is bad, but she is different. In addition, it might set up ideas about gender norms when there are actually no such things. Not only is this statement and its intent both sexist and misogynistic, but it also can lead to internalized hate. Anything you or a woman does should always be your/their choice for your/their benefit - not to satisfy gender stereotypes. It might not seem like a huge deal, but it is small things like these that have a great impact as a whole. It may also give a wrong idea of what feminism actually means.
Every girl - I repeat every girl - is beautiful and unique in her own way. So the next time you want to compliment her/them, rather than saying this back-handed statement, tell her that she is smart, funny, pretty or fun to be with. Let us know if you have ever been told this so-called compliment!
‘She sat still and waited for the sign of approval from her husband.’
Oddly, I haven’t taken this sentence straight out of a novel but the level of familiarity accompanying it is honestly unnerving. You’d expect that in the 21st century, hearing something like that would be eccentric; yet here we are.
The ideology of a woman as a trophy for display originated in the past when the sole purpose of a woman was to be the wife. She was to stay at home and take care of her family in exchange for the security of the breadwinner i.e. the husband. Times have changed, nonetheless, people still continue to leave careless remarks, not knowing the imprint they leave behind.
‘May I speak to the man of the house?’ ‘
You run like a girl.’
‘Is that what you’re wearing?’
The issue here is that our society still struggles to accept those who don’t fit into their standardised avatars, and this causes unwanted distress. For example, as a woman should not feel as if it is a necessity for her to be with her child from day till night. No, her husband is not babysitting today. It is his child too.
Sadly, women always find themselves playing this coerced role. I was getting ready to go downstairs for my 17th birthday party. It was a small get-together consisting of only close family. I looked at my reflection in the mirror opposite me. I felt pretty. It was an outfit inspired by a series of aesthetic images on Pinterest. But as I walked downstairs, I could feel the heavy stares targeting me as my mum pulled me to the side. I was confused as I listened to her words.
The criterion for a woman was not met. And this was the moment, ladies and gentlemen, where the tower of confidence, which took years to build, collapsed within a split second.
Often, we forget that we don’t need validation from others to live as we please. It is essential that we work to break the images that society has crafted of women/females playing a similar role to the women in a Shakespearean play. Even the number of children’s fairy tales I’ve read with the woman waiting for a strong man to save her is just boundless. She is not a computer programmed to conduct domestic chores and she is not a damsel in distress. She is her own person.
This leads me to wonder “How can we shatter these conceptions?” Next time, confront the perpetrator instead of staying quiet. It is important that we voice our opinions in the moment rather than dwell on what we could have done in the past. However derogatory you think they may sound, maintain a calm and composed posture as you respond with ‘Why is that?’. The intention here is not to completely undermine another individual but to allow them to reflect upon the absurdity of their words. Perhaps, they’ll be able to understand and educate themselves; thus you are taking the first step into the reformation of how our society perceives women.
A woman does not need approval from anyone but herself. We are all our own people; no two people in this universe are the same. Equality is not only part of our rights but also part of human decency, so don’t hesitate to respond to critical remarks however harmless they may seem!
A girl asked me the other day “how can you be a girl and not be a feminist?” Simple, I am a girl and I am a egalitarian. According to Urban Dictionary, an egalitarian is someone who believes in equal rights for all humans no matter the race, gender, sexuality or religion. This is also known as humanist.
In the news recently I have seen multiple stories about companies changing names of some of their products because its too “manly” or its “sexist”. For example, Kleenex (the tissue company) recently decided to change the name because it was seen as ‘sexist’. In my opinion I believe that there are much larger issues involving lack of equal rights which are a lot bigger than the name of some tissue company that has been going on since 1924. I want equal pay for men and women in all jobs. I want men to be able to talk about their emotions openly without them feeling like they’ll be made fun of and for them to have a voice for males in abusive relationships. I want women to be able to feel safe walking down street and to be able to have a voice against the rapists and paedophiles in the world. I want the LGBTQ to feel safe in this community and be able to express themselves comfortably. The list goes on.
I believe that being a ‘feminist’ is way more than wanting a company to change their name because its ‘sexist’. The definition of sexism is “attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of gender roles” and ‘discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex or gender, as in restricted job opportunities, especially such discrimination directed against women.’ I personally believe that the box of tissues being labelled “man-sized” isn’t that sexist or as a big deal as most of the other issues going on in the world today. I believe that the whole renaming situation was blown out of proportion and I believe that there are bigger issues that need dealing with today.
I also believe that just because you’re a female, it does not mean that you have to be a feminist. I think that everyone should have their own opinion and they have every right to believe in what they think is right and what they believe.
For example I believe in equal rights for not only females but males as well. Not everyone has to believe in the same as I do and just because you're a girl it doesn’t mean you have to be a feminist. Each person is their own individual and they have a right to their own individuality. The comment that girl made about how girls should be feminists, I found quite distasteful. Not only because girls can believe in what they want to, but because not only girls can be feminist. There are so many males in the feminist environment. For example Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a famous American actor, considers himself to be a feminist. Joseph filmed a video, almost 2 years ago, explaining what he believes feminism is and the background of feminism in general. He then talks about when he was on ‘The Ellen Show’ and how Ellen DeGeneres asked him if he considered himself as a feminist and he responded with “Absolutely!” Also, when he was in an interview with another journalist , Marlo Stern,he was asked “What does it mean to you to be a feminist?” His response was; “To me a feminist means that your gender doesn’t have to define who you are. You can be whoever and whatever you want to be regardless of your gender.” Then throughout the video he talks about the sort of feedback he got from fans, both positive and negative, and was clearing up confusion about the term. There are so many famous men out there who consider themselves feminists and are proud, for example; Harry Styles (Singer from famous boy band, One Direction), Mark Ruffalo (famous American actor, plays the Hulk in the Avengers series), Ian Somerhalder (Famous actor in the TV show, Vampire Diaries) There are so many more too.
In answer to the question “how can you be a girl and not be a feminist?”, This is how I am more than a feminist. You have a right in life to choose what/who you want to be and what you want to believe in. My gender shouldn’t have to define my beliefs.
For more information on feminism, visit ‘feminism.com’ , their website has plenty of information and explains in detail what feminist is and what they do.