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ELEMENTARY FEMINISMS: Being a Feminist at Fourteen - The Feminist Wire

ELEMENTARY FEMINISMS: Being a Feminist at Fourteen

By Olivia Emin

I go to a school where the boys outnumber the girls. This isn’t a small difference; there are pretty much two and a half boys for every girl. I never noticed the difference until now. Since Emma Watson’s iconic speech, gender politics has been a hot topic at my school. I always knew I wanted to be equal to the boys when I grew up, and I always assumed that it would be a given. I never thought that I would ever have to fight for something that my friends who happen to be a different gender could simply take. I never understood why there were protests and petitions in the westernised world where I live to make things equal. I thought gender equalities already existed in today’s society. I never realised that things weren’t equal until recently.

I am a feminist. Maybe I am considered too young or too naive to be a feminist, but I like to think I am. You see, in class debates, the room would split. There would be six girls battling fourteen boys in the war of the sexes. At first, this was all considered light-hearted fun or “banter.” But then boys’ sports suddenly got more recognition than girls’ sports, boys had more lax uniform restrictions than girls, boys threw around terms like “slut,” “whore,” “ho,” and “slag” whilst girls were supposed to just patiently put up with it. But that wasn’t it. There was so much more. It was 2014, so why did it feel like 1912?

Unfortunately, I can say I did nothing. I dealt with the rules and restrictions. I accepted the naming and shaming, and I sat there and did nothing as so much of this went on. I blatantly put up a blind eye and ignored the fact that boys get “special treatment” compared to girls.

Once I realized this, the special treatment had to stop. I began to battle back – not just me, but all of us girls put up a fight. However in the battle for equality, strength comes in numbers and we didn’t have them. Additionally, boys tried to dismiss our actions by using the word “feminist” against us in a shrill disgusted tone.

Girls began to give up. Why? Because of the ways the boys reacted. We were labelled man haters and sluts. We grew scared. The boys were bigger, stronger, and more powerful than us. Why were we battling? Why were we fighting a war we could not win? Then it struck me.

We should not have been fighting in the first place. Gender equality is not a waging war between two genders. Gender equality should incorporate everyone regardless of their gender identifications. Feminism has just as many benefits for men as it does for women; it also challenges this idea that there are only two genders and that girls are lesser than boys. So why is it considered a battle of the sexes when gender justice is a battle for the sexes. Gender justice must benefit everyone.

I hope the young boys in my school will grow up into young men who understand that gender equality isn’t something they should protest against, but something they should help achieve. Equality should not be a battle or fight. Gender equality is about human rights and living without oppression.

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unnamed-2Olivia Emin is a fifteen year old from North London who discovered her huge interest and passion for writing recently.  She is an advocate for global equality and hopes to write more in the future.

 

4 Comments

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    • Teabag

      March 18, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      Many intelligent men work for gender equality. Many intelligent men call themselves feminists. I have never heard an intelligent man waste everyone’s time telling women that he would support them in their fight for equality if they would just change the name of the movement for equality to something that he likes better. Indeed, I doubt that any man who has grasped the nature of the problems that feminism seeks to address would feel ‘excluded’ by the name of the movement. I don’t know what you’ve been reading, but the idea that feminism is about female ‘supremacy’ exists in the minds of enemies of gender equality and spills out into a bitter propaganda of hatred against women who want to challenge the status quo. It is simply not something that feminism has ever sought.

      I understand that you are young and new to this, and it’s good that you’re reading about feminism, but it is important for you to know that it is a bit of a trope for men to come on feminist websites and say ‘why don’t you call yourselves “gender equalists” and then maybe I’d help out’ It’s tired, it’s boring, it’s usually aggressive in intention. Either you care about ending discrimination against women or you don’t. Fussing about what it’s called rather than getting on and doing something is at best unhelpful.