There is widespread misunderstanding of not only what feminism is but why feminism is needed in the XXI century. The other day, I stumbled upon an article where Emma Watson was defending her photo spread in Vanity Fair after she fell victim to a bunch of internet trolls that were outraged she presents herself as a feminist and simultaneously poses topless and sensually in a magazine (in)famous for publishing photographs of women in overly sexual poses and racy attires. Her reply ‘I really don’t know what my t**s have to do with it. It’s very confusing. I’m always quietly stunned’ was spot on. Being a feminist is not renegading one’s sensuality and sexuality. Being a feminist is not burning bras in a backyard fire, saying farewell to razor blades, tossing your red lipstick and trashing your miniskirts and lace bodysuits. Neither is hating men, by the way. Being a feminist is not about fitting in a box of what other people (coffidiotmenandwomencoff) think a feminist women should be ‘if you are a feminist you can’t go around town in hot pants, you’re objectifying yourself!’, ‘you are provoking men and that is not feminist at all!’, ‘you’re disrespecting you’re body and you’re giving a bad example to young girls if you flirt and f**k without being in a relationship’, they shout! Well, that simply is not what feminism is. Feminism is about equality; it’s about freedom of choice and action; it’s about liberation. Feminism is about opposing sexism; it’s about opposing patriarchy. Feminism is a movement that fights for an equal society, with equal social, political and economic opportunities and rights for men, women, transgender, and everything in between. And it is freedom to be yourself, whoever you are, however you are, without the constraint and fear of repercussion, persecution and harassment.
Contrary to what many people think, we are not living in an equal society, not in Portugal, not here in London where I currently live and work. Women are still held to different social standards to men; women wages are still considerably lower than those of their male counterparts; women participation in politics and decision making remains low; women are still disproportionately affected by poverty; women still don’t have the same level of access to education and health services men do; women’s full potential is still being undermined by unequal opportunities in life. And the world is suffering from it. 49.6% of the world population is female (approximately 3.52 billion people). If women are not given the same opportunities, this means half the world population is not reaching its full potential. So our world is not reaching its full potential.
2016 was a disgraceful and shameful year for gender equality and women’s and transgender rights. Don ‘grab ‘hem by the pussy’ Trump was elected President of the United States of America; 2 women were killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner; 830 women died every day from childbirth around the world; globally, 65 million girls are not in school; slut shaming reached new peaks. But the feminist movement is brewing and brewing. Its ranks are getting stronger and stronger with women, girls, men and boys that believe we should all have equal rights and opportunities and are unafraid of making their voices heard. Even if that means provoking more, shedding political and social correctness and shouting louder and louder!
This International Women’s Day, we celebrate all women and all of those that see their voices supressed and silenced and their full potential undermined. Our movement is brewing and we’ll shout so loud they’ll have no other choice than to hear us. Because the future is female. We’ll make sure of it.