Okay, first things first – I’m a guy. Quelle surprise, but the topic of this post which concerns women and feminism might not seem exactly something you’d expect from a dude. However, I’m a bit of a feminist – have been ever since I was eight years old and watched the third season finale of Buffy and decided that a) I basically wanted to be Buffy Summers and/or a Slayer when I was grown up, b) girls were beyond awesome in the butt-kicking category, and c) I wanted to see more girls kicking butt where the boys couldn’t.
Unfortunately, it seem that there’s not a lot of it going around, anywhere I can see. I’m a psychology major in my final year of university studies and am the only guy taking the ‘Gender and Sexuality’ module in my last ever semester – I love it as it lets me channel my inner (and outer) feminist and actually write essays and get into full discussions on it. Heaven. Unfortunately, it was during one of these discussion seminars where there’s plenty of debating and laughter that I discovered how girl power might well be under threat.
We were discussing gender roles and how they affect our day-to-day life and a girl (who shall remain nameless – mainly because I don’t know her name) honest to God said that she thought girls and women had too many rights and freedoms these days.
After immediately challenging her and nearly getting my Tyra-Banks-esque righteous yell on (trust me, I nearly challenged the lovely, equal-rights-championing Banks’ fierceness then and there), I started to think about it – despite all of our supposed freedoms and equalities these days, how fair is gender anyway? Women still earn far less than their male counterparts and there are still countries where women can’t go out without a man’s permission or vote or any of those wonderful civil liberties we love to emulate. Even in areas like music, our favourite best-selling artists might be females (Adele, Rihanna, Britney, Gaga, Beyonce, the list goes on…), they’re still defined in terms of how they look in some mediums and media. A movie called Sucker Punch last year looked set to right the wrongs of Warner Bros.’ ‘no female leads’ policy, but despite the superb action and visuals, it came across as misogynistic rather than feminist.
The next generation are the ones being affected right now – every advert or TV show or movie that objectifies women into being sexual objects is reinforcing the idea that if you’re not a stereotypically hot girl in her underwear, or if you’re a girl full stop, you’re not gonna get anywhere or people aren’t gonna like or respect you.
Why do I care you ask? It’s not because I grew up in a house of strong, empowered women (I didn’t) or because I had a lot of positive female influences around me as a kid (again, nada) – it’s because I grew up in that brief period of time in the 1990s when girls looked as if they were gonna achieve the same equality that men had enjoyed. Buffy was my idol, Mulan became my favourite Disney movie (and has remained that way to this day) and every girl who popped on TV without being the lead guy’s helpless, damsel-in-distress girlfriend or had some awesome power on her own, I lapped up. I identify with more female characters and girls and women than I do guys – that doesn’t make me less of a man: that makes me secure enough to embrace my role models.
So yeah – this might be just one guy rambling on about how girls need to stand up for their self respect once more. Maybe I’m just hung up on a cult show from the Nineties. But I won’t apologise for being someone who wants to see women being treated with the damn respect they deserve. If you’re a girl or a woman out there who thinks you’re not getting the rights or the respect of men you know, then stand up – if you’re female full stop, do it. You’re amazing. Let the misogynists know.
To paraphrase the last ever episode of Buffy Summers’ adventures in Sunnydale – are you ready to be strong?
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