THE GIRLS HAVE IT

October 16, 2013

Sammi Taylor

I would consider myself a feminist.

No, I’m not talking about burning the bras. and Yes, I do still shave my legs. So what does it mean to be a feminist, and more so, a teenage one?

Feminism is no longer about elaborate protests and scrutinising the male privilege. At its core, feminism is purely a movement that aims for the equal treatment of women in society. That sounds fairly simple, yeah? While feminism is a multi-faceted issue, jam packed of differing opinions and different ideas about platforms for change, one thing remains constant; a demand for equality.

Many would argue that feminism is no longer relevant, that women essentially have the right to do all the same things that men can. In western society we can vote, a large majority of us can marry who we choose, get an equal paying (or close to) job and receive an education. Do we still need feminism in 2013, when there doesn’t seem to be much of a gap between the two genders?

Hell yeah we do.

It’s evident in the small percentage of female high court judges. It’s obvious in that just 37 of all 150 members in the House of Representatives are women. It’s clear that the remaining 113 men thought they had the right to decide whether abortion is ‘okay’ or not. Tony Abbott’s elected Cabinet contains only one woman, among 19 men. How, in a society made up of almost 51% women, are we still so underrepresented in positions of power?

Feminism is about change. It’s about eliminating ‘surprise’ when a woman appears in a position of high regard. It’s about changing our attitudes towards women in the media, so that maybe our next female Prime Minister won’t be constantly reminded of her gender. Feminism is what’s going to make us stop saying “You’re pretty smart, for a girl” or the oh-so-common “You throw like a girl”. It’s about abolishing rape culture and ‘slut-shaming’ and putting a stop to the apparent need to objectify a woman’s body.

But feminism also has personal, emotional qualities about it. It’s about feeling comfortable in your own skin. It’s about believing that, as a woman, you are capable of absolutely anything you set your mind to. It’s about fighting. And as a teenager, there’s a lot you can do to put your knuckles up and win.

Chicks can kick ass. Here’s 5 ways you can make a difference.

1. Adopt the feminist label.

I’m not much of a fan of labels either, but claiming the title of ‘feminist’ seems to be a necessity. That doesn’t mean it has to say so in your instagram bio between ‘cat-lover’ and ‘single’, but it does mean you have to identify as a feminist and really mean it. The label itself has been stereotyped, stigmatized and ridiculed, which is why it’s so important to change the way wider society views feminism. By claiming the feminist label you open avenues for discussion and bring about windows of opportunity to change opinions regarding the issue.

2. Get involved in the conversation.

We’re living in the digital era, and feminism-flavoured content is bound to come up on your newsfeed sooner or later. Blogs, websites and all forms of social media are fantastic platforms to voice your opinions and hear what others have to say. There’s a sole market for teenage girls; in particular, blogs where everything from articles, poems, art, illustrations and songs are shared with the community with aims to empower women and inspire the teenage mind. Seventeen-year old Tavi Gevinson created rookiemag.com, an online publication for teenage girls to read, share and inspire—with a strong dash of feminism. Rookie is one of digital publications aiming to empower girls and provide a place for them to be themselves.

3. Do your research.

It’s more than likely that one day you’ll enter into an intelligent-conversation-borderline-heated-debate on why you identify as a feminist. Whether you’re defending yourself from the remarks of adults who burnt their bras in the 1960s or the boyfriend who’s trying to work out whether it’s still okay for him to open the door for you, the question is bound to come up. A modern understanding of feminism is based on equality and becoming comfortable within and outside of our gender norms, but some might to refer to more traditional examples of feminism. Be armed and ready with your information. Know who Frida Kahlo is, read some Charlotte Bronte novels and educate yourself on feminist history.

4. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a hypocrite.

You can be a feminist and still love fashion. Tavi Gevinson (founder/editor in chief of rookiemag.com, above) said it best, so I’ll leave this one to her:

“Girls think that to be a feminist, they have to live up to being perfectly consistent in your beliefs—never being insecure, never having doubts and having all the answers. This is not true. Reconciling all the contradictions I was feeling became easier once I understood that feminism is not a rule book, but a discussion, a conversation, a process”

There’s also a lovely little poem on this one that Birdee Mag shared with us last month. It’s worth a view:

5. Accept yourself

You’re a girl, and that’s a beautiful thing. You are no better nor any worse than any other person on this earth, man or woman. You deserve to be equal. Your gender should not limit your choices, decisions, opinion of self or way of life. Do what you want. Be who you want. Be you. Because this whole “being a female thing”, is pretty damn cool.

 – Sammi Taylor

p.s No-where in the definition of feminism does it restrict this movement to women only—guys, do you believe in equal rights? Congratulations, you can be a feminist too.

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4 Responses to “THE GIRLS HAVE IT”

  1. Rose Says:

    “No, I’m not talking about burning the bras. and Yes, I do still shave my legs.”

    Yeah, because feminists who don’t shave their legs are not worth listening to? I get that this is a joke but I just want to point out that it’s pretty anti-feminist in itself.

    It just sounds like, “It’s okay guys, I’m not one of THOSE feminists, you can listen to me cos I’m still conventionally attractive.”

    Reply

    • Sammi Says:

      Hi Rose,
      Thankyou for you feedback!
      Just to clarify, the connotations of being above “THOSE kind of feminists” were not implied, but I can understand that it is definitely open to interpretation. More so, it’s an attempt for younger girls to be able to relate to feminism as a movement, rather than them assuming that feminism is only for the older, bra burning women that the stereotype of the 60’s suggests. Feminism is for all women (and men) whether they want to assimilate into, or seriously challenge, the ‘traditional’ label of feminism that arose a few decades ago. Bottom line, it’s about equality, whether we shave our legs or not.
      Thanks for joining in the discussion!
      Sammi x

      Reply

      • Rose Says:

        Well I think it’s justified if it has the intended effect! The more teens who get into feminism, the better.

        It just frustrates me to see that phrase thrown around so much. To me, it seems to just perpetuate stereotypes about “THOSE” feminists and alienate teenagers who don’t shave their legs.

        I mean, if this is an article to introduce teens to feminism, you don’t want to be perpetuating ideas like “feminists used to burn bras cos they were crazy” and “some feminists don’t shave their legs cos they are radical” – you want to address the fact that those stereotypes exist and point out why they are wrong.

        I know that you didn’t intend to imply all that! I think it would be fine even if you just followed it up with an explanation. Eg. “The whole point of feminism is that women should be treated equally in society whether their legs are smooth or hairy,” etc.

        Maybe just keep it in mind for next time 😛

        If you’re interested, here’s a good reference about bra burning: finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2008/02/09/faq-bra-burning/

        and the ‘hairy legged feminist’: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2008/02/09/faq-hairy-legged/

        Actually that site just has everything haha have fun 🙂

        Reply

  2. Michelle Says:

    This was a wonderful read, thank you.

    Michelle

    Reply

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