Have you read or seen Emma Watson’s speech to the U.N. regarding the HeForShe campaign? If you haven’t, I highly recommend you watch it now. If you don’t already know, HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality which urges men, just as much as women, to get involved and take action.
In the beginning of her speech, Emma states, “For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”
YES!!! Being a feminist does not mean you dislike the male species, or that you don’t shave your legs and armpits (although that’s fine too). You don’t even need to be female to be a feminist. I want my daughters to grow up knowing that men and women are equals and that they deserve to be treated as such. It is their right, and in turn, it is my and my husband’s responsibility to help teach them that and be advocates for feminism.
My husband is an example of what Emma refers to in her speech as an inadvertent feminist. He does not treat our daughters differently because they are girls. He encourages them to explore and pursue their interests, whether or not it’s something society says is “for boys.” He takes them fishing, teaches my four-year-old about cars and motorcycles, encourages them to play every sport they express an interest in. Last Christmas he even made our girls a wooden toolbox and bought a whole set of kids tools so they could pretend to fix things like he does (something my oldest LOVES to do). He understands that our daughters deserve the right to be who they are regardless of what gender they are. He sees beyond those ignorant gender stereotypes.
I have had numerous conversations with my daughter about what she wants to be when she grows up and we simply tell her she can be anything she wants to be – a firefighter, astronaut, doctor, although I had to draw the line at being a dog because…well…she’s a human. She changes her mind about her future career on a daily basis (which is obviously typical for her age). It does not matter to me which job she says she wants to have one day as long as she knows that it makes no difference whether she is male or female; and that with hard work, determination, and ambition she can do anything she puts her mind to.
As a female, I have always felt as if I need to go above and beyond to prove myself. To prove that I can do the same things that men can do. I would get so angry when others would use the phrase “like a girl” as an insult. For example, “You throw like a girl.” Why is it that doing something “like a girl” means it’s something less, not as good, something negative? A while back I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and came across this video which addresses just that. It really struck a chord with me; so much so that I saved the link so I can show it to my daughters when they get a little older. To do something “like a girl” should not, no – must not, be used as an insult. I do things like a girl because I AM a girl and there should be no shame in that.
Changing the world might sound like an unachievable concept but I believe it is possible for us to do just that; by working together, both men and women side by side, and taking a united stand against gender stereotypes and inequalities, and by allowing others to be who they truly are without judging them for it.
If not us, who?