This was submitted to my school magazine, it's since been edited and combed through for mistakes, but I wanted to post the original, rambling version here on the blog. Enjoy. Hopefully.
Ani DiFranco once said, “Either you are a feminist or you are a sexist/misogynist. There is no box marked ‘other’.”
That’s my favourite feminist quote of all time, because in such a simple and straightforward way it forces you to make a choice. Are you a sexist/misogynist or a feminist? Most people, if asked, would probably deny vehemently that they were in any way sexist or misogynist, but then again, I don’t know many people who would identify as feminist either. The unwillingness of so many people to call themselves feminist is astounding, because, in essence, what’s feminism? It’s equality between the two sexes. If you don’t agree with equality then you must be a sexist or misogynist, right?
Even presented with this logic, many think of feminism as outdated and useless in today’s world, they view feminists as man-hating, bitter caricatures and even the ones who understand feminism are reluctant to call themselves feminist because “there’s no point now”.
Look, if you think that equality of the sexes is, well, a good thing, then you’re a feminist. It doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl or a man or a woman (or womyn, for some people). You can wear makeup, watch
’s Next Top Model and let people open doors for you, and still be a feminist. It’s ridiculous how many people say, “Oh, you can’t be a feminist because you watch *insert tv show*” Oh, I can’t? Thank you for clarifying that. I’ll be sure to completely ignore what you just said. America
My generation seems to think that they don’t need to be feminists, and most boys would never call themselves a feminist, probably because it’s seen as a “girl thing”.
Even if women have more rights now than they did fifty years ago, that’s no reason to think that there will be no more battles to fight.
What about the way boys still talk about girl’s bodies, as if they’re nothing more than a nice pair of legs or a great chest? What about the way boys still feel that there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I feel like I’m in Hooters!” when a girl hands lamb sticks out to them, because simply being female invites people to make sexual remarks about your body without any provocation? What about the double standard between boys and girls, where if a girl/women enjoys sex and has a lot of it, she’s called a slut and a whore, but if it’s a boy/man does then he’s congratulated on his ‘conquests’ and called a stud.
Why is it not acceptable for women and girls to enjoy sex, oral sex, kissing, basically anything even vaguely sexual? Why are men allowed to do and enjoy all of these things without any ramifications, but women live in fear of getting a ‘reputation’?
Society expects girls to be ‘pure’ as evidenced by the growing popularity of Purity balls in
. Fathers and daughters go to these events together, and the girls pledge to remain ‘pure’ until marriage, while the fathers pledge to help and protect their daughter’s supposed purity. Rings are sometimes given, like the ones that some Disney stars wear. In my opinion, Purity balls are wrong in many ways. America
Pledging to your father that you will remain abstinent until marriage takes away your own rights, it means that your father essentially owns your sexuality. Not to mention the fact that the mere existence of Purity balls raises the question: Why do fathers not trust their daughters to be able to preserve their own virginity without pledges and rings and keys?
It’s as if they’re saying that teenage girls are unable to make good, rational decisions in life and without pledges and their fathers help they would be lost.
Teenage girls are perfectly capable of making their own life choices, amazingly enough, although the fathers who go to purity balls don’t seem to think so.
Recognizing my father has special insight as a man himself, and that God protects me through his leadership, I will listen carefully to his advice about my relationships with men, and respond to his leadership until I am under the leadership of my husband.
Above is a snippet from the virginity pledge every girl takes. This illustrates perfectly how purity balls take away a girl’s control over her life. This shows that by taking this pledge, you effectively sign over all your freedom for your entire life to the male figure in your life, be it your father or your husband or your ‘mentor’ (the person who takes you there if your father is not available/deceased, god forbid your mother takes you to a purity ball). Can we not lead ourselves? I understand that parents are parents and thus until we’re adults they do have control over us, but when we get married, we’re still not capable of running our own lives without the “special insight” of a man?
A girl having sex before marriage is not the end of the world, but purity balls seem to say, “If you have sex, you become dirty and impure.” What kind of a message is that to send to young girls? Another question is, why is that message not sent to boys? Oh, because apparently a boys purity doesn’t need to be protected. There are, in fact, mother-son balls but they don’t focus on preserving the virginity of young boys’, instead it tells them to “refrain from soiling girls’ virginities”. That is the ridiculous double standard that every girl lives with in action. It’s saying that a girl’s virginity is to be protected vigilantly by both her and her father, but nobody cares about a boy’s purity. It means that, to these girls, sex will forever be associated with impurity and being ‘dirty’. It’s saying that a girl needs a man to protect her because she can’t protect herself adequately.
Purity balls help promote the notion that promiscuous women/girls are ‘sluts’, while promiscuous men are players or studs. I can’t actually think of a male equivalent for the word ‘slut’, mainly because there has never been a need for one.
Think of this scenario: a group of girls give a group of boys oral sex, the media finds out, their school finds out and has to deal out appropriate punishments.
Who do you think should be punished? The girls, the boys, or both?
This actually happened at a school in
and of course, the boys got away scot free, because “boys will be boys”, while the girls had to attend a teen sex education class and were labeled as promiscuous by the media. America
Even adults exercise this double standard by assuming the girls need more education while the boys were simply being boys.
Now imagine a boy performs oral sex on a girl, do you think he would face any sort of backlash from his peers? Or would the girl once again be blamed, insulted, and gain a ‘reputation’?
Look at your school/university/workplace. You've probably seen the double standard in action there, you may even have helped perpetuate it by calling the girls sluts and whores and leaving the boys untouched because they’re just being boys. Wherever you are in the world, sexism is rampant.
Now tell me we don’t need feminism anymore.