Does the Feminist movement exist? Of course it does. Is it still relevant in a world where women have the vote? I’m sure it is. There are still countries where women have very little say. Saudi Arabia are making progress in this area. However, across the world there still exists differences in pay and employment opportunities between men and women. Whilst this is still the case the feminists will still fight for a gender neutral society.
So as a young woman in her thirties (I use the word ‘young’ sparingly) what does feminism mean to me? First and foremost it is not about women being empowered over men. It is simply putting both genders on equal platforms as each other whilst recognising the unique attributes both carry.
It wasn’t until recently that I had even given this any thought at all. I respected the movements that won the vote, equal rights to education etc but since I had never personally perceived any differences in the way I was treated in comparison to my male counterparts I assumed it was something in the past. Then last ‘women’s day’ whilst most were celebrating the achievements of women everywhere a female friend of mine asked ‘What’s the point of celebrating women’s day?’ What concerned me most that she would ask this was that she is the mother of two daughters would would undoubtedly carry this attitude into adulthood.
It was then I saw where the problem lay. I tried to explain that it wasn’t taking anything away from men (I would be happy to celebrate ‘man’s day’ too), It was recognising the strides that women have made through history. If this helped bring the issue of pay gaps, lack of promotion for female sports teams and other issues to the forefront then so be it.
It reminded me of a talk I had been giving a number of years ago to school children aged between 12 and 15. The children were asked what they felt was the best thing about being a boy or a girl. The boys gave answers such as ‘being stronger’ and ‘playing sports. The girls gave answers such as ‘having nice hair and nails’ and ‘wearing make up’. This could have been a typical answer for their age group but I couldn’t help but worry that it was symptomatic of something deeper within our society. Are we so consumed with ‘pretty girls’ that our young women feel that their relevance is measured on how good looking they are? Are our young women being brainwashed into believing that their worth is determined by how much the male gender approves of their appearance? To me that is where the true issue lies.
A truly gender neutral society can only be achieved when our young people in general realise that there is more to life than being attractive to the opposite sex. Contributing to society means so much more.