Although I am still young, I can say that I have grown up in a privileged world and always felt good about myself. And even though I am still building myself up and have been taught to always fight for my studies and for myself in order to succeed in life, I have experienced a few times, wether in my professional life or everyday life, some forms of discrimination that sometimes made me doubt and revealed my anger about the treatment of women in our society.
However, for many years, I didn’t consider myself as a feminist. I used to associate this notion with protests of half-naked women who wanted to publicly deliver complaints towards men. Also, I felt that feminism represented a sort of hate and envy towards men with their supposed benefits and advantages in everyday life. I didn’t feel like I was supposed to define myself as a feminist because I didn’t want to consider myself like a victim of today’s society and didn’t always agree with the fact that women are usually left behind. I was mistaking. But the fact that I did not qualify myself as a feminist did not mean that I didn’t support Women’s rights. I have always been shocked with the way some women are treated around the world. While most of the women in the industry are less paid then men, others are persecuted or victims of sexual assault or harassment, and women who are powerful and successful tend to be criticized because they have ‘no life’ apart from their job, like Meryl Streep in The Devil wears Prada. These main issues highly irritate me and today, at nearly twenty years old, I truly realize how women’s position in some countries, in the workplace, in the streets or in the industry is endangered. This led me thinking : am I now a feminist? Are all women feminists?
By curiosity, to begin my reflexion, I wanted to take a look at the dictionary’s definition of feminism to see how they explained this complex notion. What I found was ‘feminism : doctrine that promotes equal rights between women and men’. What is astonishing today, is that some people asked women « are you a feminist » and only 13% answered positively according to a National Geographic/Ipsos poll. But if they ask the question in a different way, for instance ‘ do you support women’s equal rights and opportunities’, 61% of women said yes. This actually means that the notion of feminism does not resonate well in people's minds today, and is associated with a negative connotation. This is the mistake that I used to do, and most women ignore the true meaning and scope of feminism .
Therefore, after reading the great inspirational book Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and former worker at Google, I realized even more that the notion of feminism was wrongly understood and used in today’s society. This made me understand that feminism isn’t reduced to protesting and fighting in the streets for our rights, it does not mean either that you hate men or that you feel like you are a victim in your society. It simply means that you support the fact that today women should have the right to choose, exactly like men. Women have the right to accede or to choose to pursue amazing and successful careers or to stay home to focus on themselves, to stand up and let their voice be heard, to have children or not, to do all the sports in the world, to decide or refuse to clean the house, to dress how they want wether it is feminine or not, etc.
Also, enjoying being feminine, appreciating gallantry, and cooking every night does not mean that you are not feminist. It simply means that you are free and more than welcomed to decide what you want to do and what you want to be. And this really is the definition of feminism that attracts me and makes me want to say that yes, I am a feminist, and in a way, every women is.
This made me understand that the women I used to see protesting in the streets, from where I couldn’t really figure out what message they were trying to deliver, decided to use their anger, because history has shown us that anger was a useful tool to make things change; while others chose to deliver the same message in an other way, like Emma Watson with her speech on ‘gender equality’ at the United Nations. All the women who choose to protest or not, to work or to live their life, to get married or to renew traditions are the feminists of today, because they are the leaders of their own lives, and their actions, whatever they are, have an impact on today’s feminism, and on tomorrow’s place of Women.
Thus, I think that feminism reaches every women, no matter how they see it. Each person should remember that its acts, its participation in the professional or social-life are highly significant for our modern society and are a manner to express feminism. As a female in 2021, we should not be expected to do anything but we should be entitled to everything. Women are free individuals who have to get more ability, like men, to decide of their future and to become the main actor not only in their lives, but in other women’s lives.