“You were a feminist even before Beyonce sang about it,” this was what my younger brother quipped a few weeks ago while I was mindlessly dancing to Beyonce’s Flawless. The rise of the culture saturated by the Taylor Swifts, Lena Dunhams, Beyonces, Mindy Kaling, and Amy Poehlers has increased the debate what it’s really like to become a feminist.
Merriam Webster defines feminism as, “the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” In simplistic terms, it simply means that we are all treated equally, regardless of gender. Today, women fight day and night in order to not be confined by gender roles.
Growing up, I have seen my parents commit to equally important roles in our household, no one was more important than the other. My dad, who hails from a male dominated field, also never felt the need to impose that the “male” had more power in our home. Without realizing it, I have applied these principles to the way I lived my life. In school, I wasn’t afraid to compete with the boys in class whether it was for a spot on the student council, during debates, or even in sports. My high school didn’t have a girls’ basketball team so I practiced with the men’s team for about a month before they said it just wasn’t working. It’s safe to say that I was raised to think that there wasn’t such a thing as the “weaker sex”.
I was also fortunate enough to be raised by a man who does not expect me to get married to get ahead. There was none of that talk in my household. From the moment I watched my first Disney movie, my dad told me that I was to build a life of my own and not depend on men to build one for me. Since then, I aggressively went after my career and chose possible partners based on their intelligence, humor, and kindness, but never based on their jobs or social standing. There was no way that I was going to go after someone for his money or fame. I am there to encourage and support my partner and his achievements but never take credit for it. My dad frowns upon the idea that his daughter was just going to be “someone’s wife”.
And it’s good to see that more and more women are taking the stand. Today, women are not simply stepping out of “gender roles” but also recreating them. Personally, I think being a feminist doesn’t mean your anti-men or anti-marriage or anti-motherhood, but it means that you’re comfortable enough to make decisions that are right for you and no one else. It means you believe in your decisions and strong enough to fight for them.
It means you no longer allow people to put you inside a box. It means taking a stand for those who are bullied and not letting men define your worth. It means you’re living a life that you chose for you – not one dictated by society and definitely not one dictated by who you’re in a relationship with. It means being courageous enough to love who you see in the mirror and most importantly, it’s putting into good use what you have been blessed with.
At the end of the day, I believe that the most important part of being a feminist is doing something to make the world a better place. That this equality that women before fought so hard for has to make a dent in society, we have to be the kind of women who strive to make the world a little brighter than when we found it.
Because if it’s not for serving others, what other purpose is it for?