I need feminism because the world needs a makeover. The world deserves the same feminist makeover that my classmates and I got in our high school Fierce and Fabulous: Feminist Writers, Artists, and Activists class.
I have seen myself become a feminist.
Before the class, I had considered myself a feminist, but I now I realize that I wasn’t. Feminism is not just “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” I have learned that it is not just equality between sexes, it is equality for everyone who has been mistreated. This is the definition that is not as commonly known. With this lens that our teacher has given my class, we can never go back.
During our last few classes, my classmates and teacher keep saying, you can never go back. Every time someone says this line, I nod my head in agreement. Because of this class, I will never be the same. I have had a full feminist makeover. Sometimes I feel like a new person when I look and listen, and I am finally fully aware of the world that I live in.
Going to see Slut: the Play opened my eyes to an issue that I didn’t always associate with feminism. This play confronted sexual assault, rape culture, and slut-shaming. I didn’t consider these feminist issues because the definition and idea of being equal to men did not seem to connect these issues. However, now I see slut-shaming as an issue that I feel passionate about, mostly because people don’t know what they are saying. The word “slut” has been engraved in our society as a bad word. I learned from the play that “slut” is a word that shames girls for acting on their sexual desires. Girls are expected to be sexy yet innocent, experienced and yet still remain a virgin. These impossible expectations are just a few of the many that the media has perpetuated in our society.
Part of my personal feminist makeover was in learning how to analyze the media. There are certain “standards” that have been ingrained in our society through the media. By media I mean the ads, television shows, movies, commercials, and any other form of media where women are being “misrepresented.” In class, we watched Killing Us Softly and Miss Representation. These two films might be my new favorite documentaries. I just want everyone to see and learn from them. They spread awareness that women are not objects and that women can accomplish anything.
In the future, I would like to raise awareness about how our surroundings influence us daily. The marketers and their agencies will do anything to sell their products. What people create and put out into the world creates impossible expectations. Real women and girls compare themselves to Photoshopped models. Most women and girls, including myself, would like to think that they are not influenced, but EVERYONE is.
I really wish that I could be the exception or that I could know someone who is the exception but there truly is not, and I find that really upsetting. Older women are taught to look “young,” while at the same time, girls are taught to look older and to be “sexy.” In Killing Us Softly, Jean Kilbourne talks about how we, as a society, need to redefine what “looking good” is. People are taught that looking good and being “sexy” is the only option.
In Miss Representation, the phrase “you can’t be what you can’t see” really resonated with me. This phrase not only applies to women in politics and the media, but to all people.
My question is, why are women judged on their looks before anything else?
I recently attended What Will It Take to Make a Woman President?, a panel discussing women in positions of power. On the panel were leading women and men such as Pat Mitchell, Joy Behar, Don McPherson, Elizabeth Lesser, Marie Wilson , and Julie Zeilinger. This panel was great but very frustrating. Don McPherson and Julie Zeilinger were my two favorite panelists because they were not just talking about their views on gender issues. They were the only two who talked about sexist issues with an intersectional perspective.
Even though the panel itself was not what I expected, it did make me really think about the women I see in politics. Only 17% of Congress is female, and that is a gross misrepresentation of our country. Leadership has been deemed a “masculine” quality, resulting in the objectification and dehumanization of any woman who gains or tries to gain any political power.
People never actually talk about what women’s views are on real political issues, as somehow, they cannot stop talking about their appearance. For example, during the 2008 election cycle, Sarah Palin was portrayed as the “ditz” and Hillary Clinton was the “bitch.” When a woman who is not seen as “attractive” is strong and gains power, she is called a “bitch.” I am constantly frustrated by this, as the media consistently dehumanizes women because men are threatened by a woman’s intellect, such as Hillary Clinton’s.
The world needs a makeover, and it needs one fast. The problems that I personally feel passionate about are a mere fraction of what constitutes the world’s most pressing feminist issues. I am so sad that this class is ending but I know I will forever be grateful that I took it because there is no going back.