I remember the first time I realized that I wasn’t treated equally by society because of my gender. I was 2 or 3 years old. I saw a man take his shirt off because he was hot and was told I couldn’t do the same because I was a girl. I remember feeling so angry that I was being told I couldn’t do something simply because I was female.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned that the inequity between men and women doesn’t end at the simple ability to take off your shirt in public. Larger issues like sexual assault, street harassment, pay gap between genders, access to healthcare, and societal norms that put women at risk and at a disadvantage are dealt with every day.
I am a feminist because I believe that I, as well as all women, deserve the same rights and opportunities as men. I am a feminist because I believe women should feel safe, capable, and powerful. I am a feminist because I believe women’s voices should be heard, not stifled.
I can safely say that not a day goes by where I don’t think about the inequity women face on a daily basis. I am simultaneously so proud of the progress we have made towards gender equality over the years, and so discouraged by how far we still need to go. I remind myself that one of the best things I can do to help the cause is to talk about it. To find allies. To ask my feminist male friends to speak up more for women. To challenge people’s views.
The thing is, there is not just one brand of feminism, but at the base of it, feminists believe that women should have equal rights. Plain and simple. My brand of feminism is all about women having the right to make their own choices. Some of my choices include shaving my legs, wearing makeup and dresses, and loving activities associated with traditional gender roles like cooking, sewing, and decorating. The important thing about these choices is that I make them for myself. And to me, that is what feminism is all about.