Monday, November 3, 2014

5 Feminist Ideals I Wish I'd Known In High School

  1.   Once you eliminate viewing other women as competition, you will be a much happier person. Ladies are constantly pitted against one another while our society simultaneously criticizes them for being "catty". What many of us fail to recognize is that girls are taught from a young age to see other women as a threat. And while a little friendly competition never hurt anyone, this kind of rivalry is for the attention of men, which isn't a healthy way to live. Does this mean you have to be best friends with every other girl merely because she is a female? Of course not. You won't get along with everyone you meet, but when you make the effort to stop seeing other women as "the enemy" it is a huge weight off of your shoulders.
  2. "Slut Shaming" will get you nowhere. I don't think anyone can honestly make the claim that they have never judged another woman based upon her sex life(or rumors about it), provocative fashion sense, etc. Using words such as "slut," "whore," "skank," etc. to describe women perpetuates misogyny and rape culture. There is no male equivalent for these words, which we never seem to question. The fact that these adjectives are solely feminine objectifies women and when one says them, they are saying women shouldn't have the right to make choices regarding their own body whether that be who they choose to sleep with (or not sleep with) or what they choose to wear. It is also important to realize that slut shaming is a form of bullying. Even if you disagree with a woman's choices, it never gives you the right to put her down for it or call her a derogatory name. Slut shaming is so alive and well in our culture that many young girls have been driven to self harm and suicide because of the vicious bullying their peers have put them through. You aren't helping anyone by calling them a slut.
  3. Rape culture exists. I briefly mentioned rape culture above but I wanted to stress how important of an issue it is. Women Against Violence Against Women defines rape culture as "a termed designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence." So, basically, rape culture tells victims that it is their responsibility to prevent sexual abuse rather than putting responsibility on the rapists themselves. However, it goes much further than that. Rape culture is what causes an absurdly large number of people to question whether or not victims are telling to truth, it is also tells victims they are asking for their assault because of their attire, reputation, relationship to the offender, where they were, whether or not they have been drinking etc. People often speculate as to why many rapes go unreported even though one in every five women will be sexually assaulted at least once in their life time. When someone is faced with the inevitable possibility that they will be torn apart and blamed for a physically and emotionally traumatizing thing that was inflicted upon them, many would rather try to forget than take action against their abuser, but because of this, most rapists walk free. Rape culture also has a negative effect on men because it ignores that fact that men can be victims of sexual assault. In fact, at least 10% of rape victims in the United States are male. Not to mention the fact that it implies men are unable to control their urges to engage in sexual violence against women, like it is in their nature to rape. Because, news flash, it isn't. rape should never be normalized.
  4. Having sex for the first time ≠ "losing" anything. For men, engaging in sexual activities is "scoring" while for young women, sex is viewed as giving yourself away, being conquered, damaged, or tainted. Virginity is a social construct that objectifies women and teaches them to internalize the false assumption that they are losing a part of themselves when they have sex. Does this mean that many young people aren't mistaken when they rush into a sexual relationship they aren't physically or emotionally ready for? Hell no. But it is wrong to view young women as sexual objects and expect them to think of themselves as such, or to teach young men it is okay to see their female peers in this way.
  5.   It's not just you, your high school dress code really is sexist. I think we all realize that there seems to be a way longer list of what is and isn't deemed appropriate as far as school dress codes go, but the messages it sends are often overlooked. Most of the rules directed towards female students prohibit them from showing off certain parts of their body. This means tank tops, shorts, lower necklines, even leggings and yoga pants, which do cover all of the legs, can be written off as offensive to the dress code because said attire is "distracting" male students and teachers. Not only does this way of thinking turn underage women into sexual objects, but it also sends the message that the girls' education is less important than that of their male peers, because the time missed out of class or embarrassment of being called out, forced to change into a gym uniform (or "highlighter" shirts as my high school loved making us wear, like a modern day "A" on our chests)  is much more distracting than the "inappropriate" attire itself. 
 There are many more insights I've become aware of in my young adulthood but these resonate with me the most. Please comment or share this post if you found it helpful or liked it. Or share your ideas you think I missed out on. I love other people's criticisms. I think I would like to write more blog posts similar to this one, as well as some more beauty ones. Feels good to be out of my writing rut. Have a good day! xx

1 comment:

  1. I'm really glad that you included high school dress codes in this list. The entire post was well written and long enough to cover the basics, but still short enough to be an easy read. A+ :)