You know what’s not fun? Having a conversation with someone who has opposing opinions to you. You know what’s even more not fun? Having an argument with someone who has opposing opinions to you.
I try to avoid these interactions like the plague infested, puss dripping ordeals that they are. There’s no point to them. I don’t consider myself argumentative. Who even does? “Hi, I’m Mariah and I’m argumentative. Confrontation is my middle name!” No. Someone has a different opinion to me? Ew. Stay away.
So colour me confused as fuck when I admit that I have, on occasion, accidentally on purpose found myself in the middle of such plague infested, puss dripping ordeals. Don’t ask me how it happens. It never leaves me feeling like I’ve achieved anything and in my last post I talked about how futile it all is. But sometimes it’s just so hard not to.
I’m pretty steadfast in my feminist views. When you surround yourself with people who share and support your political beliefs, it’s easy to forget that there are people out there who don’t. You build a squishy little bubble around yourself. It’s a rude awakening when someone comes along and pops that bubble. I’m not yet quite on that level of understanding to sympathise with people when they say “feminism is cancer.” But I’m working on myself. I swear.
But, in the mean time, if anyone unsympathetic to feminism is looking to exercise their own empathy muscle, here’s a list of reasons why I’m a big fat feminist (and why you should be too). This list might also be a handy and helpful resource for my fellow feminists to whip out when confronted with aforementioned barbarians.
All of the women I know have been assaulted or abused (sexually or not)
And this is not an anomaly. Speak to the women in your life and ask them about their experiences. You’ll be fucking appalled. It’s not rare; it’s commonplace. And if you didn’t know this already: groping = sexual assault and it is against the law.
Girls grow up thinking they are not enough
80% of all 10 year old girls have tried to lose weight. Let that disturbing statistic sink in. Now let it sink in even deeper. How have we let things get like this? And that’s not even touching on the experience of our trans sisters. We’re told that being born a “girl” is bad enough already. But a “boy”… wanting to be a “girl”? Blasphemy. Eradicate the concept of gender all together, I say.
Everyday sexism is habitual and ceaseless
At the workplace. In the home. On the street. At school. In our courts. On the phone with strangers. If you don’t believe me, check out this amazing project and read some of the everyday experiences for yourself. There are some absurd phenomenons happening out there and it is certainly not happening to just women.
Violence against women and girls is a global epidemic
Women are being treated like second class citizens in every country. This is not just a battle at home; it’s a worldwide war. That being said, issues that we might consider as some far off countries’ case of third world extremism are also happening right on our doorsteps. At least 200 million girls and women alive today living in 30 countries have undergone female genital mutilation. In 2012, 70 million women aged 20-24 around the world had been married before the age of 18. 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. The statistics are all there. Time to pay them some attention.
Sexism is intertwined with racism, ageism and ableism
Those of us who are white, have white skin privilege. Those of us who are young, have age privilege. Those of us who are able bodied, have able bodied privilege. The thing about privilege is that you get so used to it, you don’t even notice it making your life better. It’s your normal. When privilege is out of reach, it’s almost impossible to get others to see how you’re suffering. Our world has built-in advantages that are often overlooked by those who have access to them. Experiencing any type of prejudice will always come hand in hand with gender prejudice if you are a woman. That double whammy ain’t a good time.
Reproductive rights are a mess
If you’re reading this from Australia; we have it easy. The cost of birth control is skyrocketing globally and many women are either priced out, or just don’t have access to it. Rights such as access to safe and legal abortion, access to a nearby Planned Parenthood, to maternal care, gynaecological exams, cancer screenings and sex education are being stomped on. Ireland’s ban on abortion is only just now getting reformed after 35 years. Read about it here. Why is it so hard for women to have control over their own bodies? “Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?” – Sen. Kamala Harris.
The pay gap is very irritating
The wage gap is a very big, scary, confusing and complicated beast. So much so that most people arguing against it simply go with the idea that it doesn’t exist. In a lot of cases, it’s very difficult to track exactly how it occurs, while in other cases it’s just blatantly obvious sexism. But the numbers don’t lie. In 2016, the full-time gender pay gap in Australia was calculated to be 17.3%. Ouch. If we don’t see any changes soon, perhaps women should start clocking off when they stop getting paid; at 3.43pm.
Rape culture is really not okay
The drip down effect of rape culture is, quite simply, killing our women. Rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalised male sexual violence. We assume that women lie. This book will inform you on that. Today, rape culture is found in mainstream TV, music, jokes, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery and they all contribute to putting out one major message: women and their bodies belong to men to do with what they please, without consequence.
Toxic masculinity is a huge worry
This war on women is much rather a war on femininity in both men and women. While women are more overtly repressed (physically, financially) men are more covertly repressed (emotionally). Deaths by suicide in Australia occur among males at a rate three times greater than that for females. Toxic masculinity cultivates frustration and anger as the only appropriate emotional outlets for men. Frustration and anger lead to violence because we sell violence as glamorous and normal, especially to our young boys. On top of that, heterosexual men are not encouraged to nurture meaningful friendships and slowly become dependent on their female partners. When we don’t foster emotional intelligence and meaningful friendships, we set ourselves back.
If you haven’t experienced sexism or prejudice, then it takes hard mental work to put yourself within another persons experience and imagine how they might have. Empathy is a choice. Just because you don’t experience something, doesn’t mean that thing doesn’t exist. Not only that, but because of how our society normalises sexism, and prejudice is our status quo, you might not even notice it happening.
So next time a woman yells “sexism,” listen to her. She’s become well accustomed to it during her life as a woman on this planet and she knows what she’s talking about. She has no choice. If you get defensive, argumentative, or dismissive when sexism is pointed out to you, you are part of the problem.