A few months ago, when my English teacher told my classmate, Kate, to spit out her gum like a lady, I asked her, “What do you mean be like a lady?” Immediately, I got shots of disapproval from my classmates. One classmate sighed, “Jasmine, why do you have to bring feminism into everything?” In today’s society, feminism is viewed as the movement where women believe they are superior to men. However, the feminist movement is really about equality among genders, and achieving that by bringing awareness to critical issues. Representing the feminist movement has benefitted my life by educating others about issues in our world. Being a feminist doesn’t require a drastic lifestyle change; it simply requires an awareness of the inequalities and flaws in our society, and on a global scale. Bringing up inequalities or problems that affect women in conversation causes people to think about their actions and the things they say. Feminism is also about asking questions that result in progressive change. It opens up people to seeing the issues in society beyond the gender pay gap and lack of representation.
Standing up for what one believes in can be immensely effective. One day, I heard a boy in my math class exclaim, “Feminism is a disease! Feminists are SO annoying.” I had never talked to this boy before, however I took this as an opportunity to start a conversation. I explained to him the meaning of feminism and the intent of the feminist movement. I pointed out some gender stereotypes and statistical evidence to explain the need for feminism. Despite the fact that he had a clear look of irritation on his face, I still felt content. Standing up for my unconventional belief, and challenging his belief that came from the stigma around feminism made me feel like I had still accomplished something. The next day, he approached me and said, “Jasmine, I just wanted to say that I thought about what you told me yesterday, and you’re right. I’m sorry for being rude to you and you’re definitely right about feminism.” In this moment, I realized how impactful my words had been. It’s one thing to advocate for what you believe in despite the backlash that you get, but it’s another to see the result of your words. Although he didn’t turn into a feminist overnight, I was proud because I had explained the real definition of feminism, and he is now able to notice inequalities in society. This incident showed me that pushing against the status quo and standing up for my unconventional belief worked. In the same way, it showed me that being a part of the feminist movement is extremely easy and doing small things like this still has an impact. Bringing awareness to issues that women face all over the world, such as fewer reproductive rights, unequal pay, lack of access to education, gender-based violence, and others can be influential.
After a few months, my friends began to approach me with questions about feminism and showing an interest in the topic. Several girls approached me telling me that they felt inspired by my unwavering stance on feminism. While I only saw the people who disagreed with me and challenged my belief, there were people who began to believe my message and support me. It felt extremely fulfilling to see that I was able to inspire other females to stand up for their beliefs and to join the feminist movement. My male friend, Samik, credits his interest in feminism to me. It’s extremely satisfying to know that your actions have benefitted someone. When people approach me to tell me how my words and my message has affected their outlook on life and their attitude towards issues in our world, it brings a smile to my face. Everytime I see someone who was influenced by me advocating for feminism, it’s extremely fulfilling because they now notice inequalities in their everyday life and are taking action to prevent them. In addition, these people now notice other forms of injustice around them because feminism mobilizes them to fight for other causes such as racial rights, LGBT rights, economic inequality, and more. Often times, it isn’t easy to speak out against injustice or point out inequalities. For example, when I heard the boy in my math class saying anti-feminist statements, the easy way out was to ignore him. But, by doing what’s right instead of what’s easy, one can make an impact. There’s definitely a struggle in voicing your opinion and standing up for your unconventional belief, but we all have the potential to go against the status quo and to spread a powerful message.
Feminism is about advocating for equal rights and respect for all genders. It’s about bringing awareness to issues that threaten the lives of women all over the world, and issues that affect women on a daily basis. Fighting for feminism helps dispel the harms that every gender faces. The feminist movement is dynamic; and even within the movement, there is still room for growth in areas such as intersectionality. As an active member of society, one’s voice can have a huge impact. No matter what your role is in society, we are all capable of voicing our opinions about issues and bringing awareness to movements such as feminism.
Post written by guest writer Jasmine Aggarwal