You were a feminist even before Beyonce sang about,” was what my younger brother quipped some weeks back, while I was mindlessly dancing to Beyonce’s “Flawless.”
The rise of a culture saturated by Taylor Swifts, Lena Dunhams, Beyonces, Mindy Kaling, and Amy Poehlers have challenged the debate on what is it really like to become a feminist.
Merriam Webster defines feminism as, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
Simply put, feminism means that we are all treated equally, regardless of gender. Today, women fight incessantly so as not be confined by gender roles.
Growing up, I have seen my parents commit to equally important roles in our household— no one was more important than the other. My dad, who hails from a male dominated field, also never felt the need to impose that the “male” had more power in our home.
Without realizing it, I have applied the same principles to the way I lived my life. In school, I wasn’t afraid to compete with boys in my class, whether it was for a spot on the student council, during debates, or even in rigorous sports.
My high school didn’t have a girls’ basketball team so I practiced with the men’s team for about a month before they said it just wasn’t working. It’s safe to say that I was raised to think that there wasn’t such a thing as the “weaker sex.”
I was also fortunate enough to be raised by a man who does not expect me to get married or to get ahead. There was none of that talk in my household. From the moment I watched my first Disney movie, my dad told me that I was to build a life of my own, and not dependent on men to build one for me.
Since then, I aggressively went after my career and chose possible partners based on their intelligence, humor, and kindness, but never based on their jobs or social standing. There was no way that I was going to go after someone for his money or fame. I am there to encourage and support my partner and his achievements but never take credit for it. My dad frowns on the idea that his daughter was just going to be “someone’s wife.” And it’s good to see that more women are taking the stand.
Today, women are not simply stepping out of “gender roles” but also recreating them. Personally, I think being a feminist doesn’t mean your anti-men or anti-marriage or anti-motherhood, but it means that you’re comfortable enough to make decisions that are right for you and no one else. It means you believe in your decisions and strong enough to fight for them.
It means you no longer allow people to put you inside a box. It means taking a stand for those who are bullied and not letting men define your worth. It means you’re living a life of personal choice—not one dictated by society and definitely not one dictated by one person you’re involved with. It means being courageous enough to love who you see in the mirror and most importantly, it’s putting into good use what you have been blessed with.
At the end of the day, I believe that the most important part of being a feminist is doing something to make the world a better place. Proudly owning this equality that women once fought so hard for, has to make a change in society. We have to be the kind of women who strive to make the world a little brighter than when we found it.
Because if this equality is not used to serve others, then what other purpose is it for?