Before my thought for the week on Monday, I wrote two speeches: one about feminism and one about inner strength. They were both possibilities, and even though I thought that we had heard a lot about perseverance and overcoming challenges, I still wrote it. My question is: why did I have to write two speeches and not just go with the first one I wrote which was about feminism?
The answer is this; I had worked out in my head that it would be likely that I would face some controversy and backlash if I spoke about this due to what I’ve experienced at this school after claiming I am a feminist. The fact that I even thought this annoys me – why should talking about gender inequality create backlash and why should I be scared to talk about it? This led me on to question the viewpoints of the word ‘feminism’ in this school and, after asking around, it became clear that there was a predominantly negative conception of ‘feminism’ and, I hate to say it, the majority of that negativity is from boys. However, I decided because of this it created a greater need for me to choose this speech for my thought for the week.
On Monday morning I was expecting some teasing from the boys in my year about being a ‘radical feminist’ who is going to burn her bras and protest for women to take over the world, but I was not expecting an audible reaction from small but significant element in the assembly hall when Mr. Lockyer introduced my speech. Why did this happen?
If I was talking about race inequality, I guarantee that such a reaction would never have happened because the gravity of the topic is clear to us all. But somehow it is different when I’m talking about is men and woman being equal in society: although it has gotten much better, we are not there yet.
What I have taken from this is that we need to re–educate people on what feminism truly means: we are not bra-burning radical women who hate all men; no, we are just people who care about human rights and believe that all people deserve equal rights, in all contexts.
Below is my speech again, so if you want you can read through it… or not, it’s up to you. But if you take one thing from this article let it be this; yes, I am a feminist, and so are so many students and teachers in this school, and we are proud. So, whether you groan or not when it is mentioned, it is a massive issue in our world which needs solving, and it will be solved. Groaning makes you a dinosaur.
The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is Balance for Better and on Friday the 8th of March, the whole world came together to play their part. From grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance as we are able to notice its absence and celebrate its presence.
Gender balance isn’t just a women’s issue, or just a men’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced board room, a gender-balanced government, right now men outnumber women in Parliament 4 to 1, more gender-balance in wealth and more gender-balance in sports coverage, just to name a few. It is essential for economies and communities to thrive.
Collective action and a shared responsibility are key to balancing our world. And Gloria Steinem (a world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist) explained that “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”. This calls for more men to get involved in the fight for gender equality and amplifies the importance of not excluding them from the conversation.
I chose to speak about this topic because I wanted to get more men involved in the fight for equality in our world. Feminist movements have become much more globally connected and there is a real attempt to include men, for instance, through the HeforShe campaign. This extends to a recognition of men’s past role in the move towards greater equality. It’s not just about winning for women, it’s about winning for families and winning so we can create a fair, violence free world for all genders.
Finally, for all those of you who will incorrectly complain about feminism only being for women and that all feminists want is for women to overpower men and then go-on to talk about me wanting only women to rule the world for choosing to speak about this topic, there is a National Men’s Day on November the 19th and I look forward to celebrating that with you as well.