Today we have a very special guest, 14-year-old Makena McElroy has me speechless. What a brain! Please welcome her to the blog and be sure to check out her article “Young Voices | A 14-Year-Old’s Look at Rape Culture” on Sweatpants & Coffee. Comments are welcome. Trolls are not.
I call myself a feminist. I could choose the word “egalitarian.” I mean, I do believe in equal rights for all people. Why not just label myself that and call it a day?
But I choose to call myself a feminist, because feminism means that you believe in the equality of the sexes. And I do.
People have a skewed definition of feminism.
Isn’t that dismissive of men? – People ask me. If you call yourself egalitarian, no one will think you don’t care about men. But I choose the word feminist because I want to acknowledge that in every single country in the world, men are held in higher regard than women. In some countries, this means that women can’t drive, can’t vote, can’t leave the house without a man’s permission, oversight, and approval. In the US, it means something different. It means a few years from now, I will be able to get my driver’s license, vote, and own property. And maybe I should be happy enough with that. But I’m not; I believe in the equality of the sexes, and there is much more to equality than these few things.
I believe that little girls should see their gender reflected on TV, in books, and in movies as whole, developed characters, not as accessories for guys. I think that no little girl should have to hear her brother being told to “stop being such a girl.” I think that little girls should be able to look at a list of presidents and feel proud to see women on that list. I think that what I’m saying should apply to every little girl no matter where they live.
I call myself a feminist out of respect for the women who came before me, the women who rallied and protested and fought until they won the right to vote. I call myself a feminist because I want to be like them. They, too, were bombarded with anti-feminist propaganda. They, too, were called crazy for wanting equal rights. I stand with their memory.
I’ve been called a “crazy feminist,” by boys and girls alike. I know that being a feminist is a “turn off” for some guys. But feminism is way too important to me for me to back down just because other people think I’m crazy. In a way, their criticism solidifies my beliefs. If caring about women’s rights is a turn off for guys, something needs to change.
Emma Watson’s speech at the UN was powerful. Important. And true. She talked about how feminism, in our society, is perceived mainly as man-hating misandry. But she knows, and I know, that that is nowhere near the message of feminism.
Feminism is women’s right to vote. Feminism is saying it can’t end there.
Feminism is ending the wage gap between genders. Women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. That can’t be true, you say. Actually, you’re right; that’s 77 cents for white women. For black women it’s 69 cents and for Latina women it’s 59 cents to a man’s dollar.
Feminism means wanting another role model in the media for girls besides “the love interest.” Feminism means wanting another physical role model other than the stick thin supermodel. Feminism is not wanting girls to be defined by their weight, their looks, or how much skin they do or do not show. Feminism is being able to wear that dress, that skirt that makes you feel like the goddess you are without having to worry that you will be stared at, whispered about, cat called, judged for what you wear when there is nothing wrong with showing skin and it shouldn’t mean anything about who you did or did not sleep with. Feminism is being able to cover your entire body and be given the same respect.
Feminism is wanting the words “slut” and “whore” to never be used by anyone again. Ever.
Feminism is saying that 1 in 4 women are raped in their lifetime and we need to do something other than blame the victims for how they dressed, or say the solution is to not go out alone. There will always be a woman in a dress in a parking lot alone. We need to change our attitudes toward this problem.
Feminism means never using the argument “men get raped too” as an excuse or a way to stop people talking. Because “men get raped” should be its own sentence, not something tacked on to the end of an argument against women’s rights.
Feminism is acknowledging that while women in America have come so far, the battle for gender equality is far from over.
I will fight for that equality. For me, for the people who come after me, and for the ones who came before me, the people who created the word “feminist.”