6 August 2015

Feminism

Dear reader,

Before I begin, I would like you to know where I, a 14 year old girl who plays guitar and reads teenage romance, found the inspiration to write to you, about feminism. I know you're about to turn the page, but hear me out: last night I sat infront of my laptop and once again watched Emma Watson's UN speech for the he-for-she campaign.  As I watched, I asked myself, "what can I do to make a difference?". So I brainstormed, and came to the decision to write to you, because "If not me, who? If not now, when?". You may be wondering why I am writing to internet of all places, seen as I am exposing myself directly to its criticism.   Well, the simple answer is: you are people. You too can make a difference. You are a person who has the ability to change things and the first step to change is acknowledging there is actually a problem, and how will you know there is a problem if there is nobody to address it? That is what I am giving myself the role of, addressing the problem.

The word 'feminism' or 'feminist' has become a hated word in society.  Why do we feel ashamed to identify as feminists?  Being a feminist, is, as a first impression, considered pathetic, immature or silly.  I want to change that.  If you are sitting at home reading this, rolling your eyes at me for being a "silly little girl" then you need to open your mind.  Feminism, by definition, means equality.  As a first step, I would like you, in your own mind, to rewrite your personal definition of feminism.  If before reading this, you considered feminists to be any of the above words I would like you to swap them for "brave, mature and fighter for equality".

'Always' also has a campaign for feminism.  The #likeagirl videos are made to address the issue of inequality in our society. How many times have you accused someone of hitting, throwing or running like a girl? 'Like a girl' is considered an insult, because girls are considered to be weak, immature, pathetic. Perhaps this is why the word 'feminism' has the same connotations.   #Likeagirl has many strong, empowering videos, inspiring people everywhere to change their mindset towards females.  Women are not weak, we are not dumb, pathetic, silly or any less than men.  That said, we are no more than men.  We are all people and, in my opinion, it is more silly, pathetic or immature to deny women the same rights as men, just because our bodies are different, than identifying as someone who believes in equality.

In Britain, we are lucky.  I am lucky that I get the same education as my male peers, I am not given less opportunities because I am a girl and could some day give birth to a child, and I am not forced into getting married because I am a girl.  But in a lot of countries, this is not the case.  1/3 of girls in developing countries will be married by the age of 18.  Early and forced marriage in girls under 15 is 1/9th, some are only 5 years old.  In South Asia and Africa, for example, boys are 1.55 times more likely to complete their secondary education than girls.  There are still 31 million girls of primary school age out of school and 2/3 of the 774 million illiterate people in the world are female.  Can you tell me that standing up and asking for your help to change this is wrong?

My point is, I may not be able to change things in the bigger picture.  I may be only one person in 7 billion.  But every person in that seven billion, is a person like me, who thinks that they can't make a difference and that they're only one in seven billion, but like The Doctor once said "I've never met anyone who wasn't important". So if every one us changes our mind about the word "feminist", perhaps we can make a difference.

Thankyou for reading.

Ellie xxx







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Thank you // Jeani