During my admittedly short adult life, my eyes have been opened to things which, as a teenager, I was blind to. Perhaps I was so unaware of it due to my childish lack of understanding, or maybe it is because at the time, I did not see how or why feminism could help me. I barely even knew what feminist theory was, let alone how it applied to my everyday life. It wasn’t until I got older, that I realised male attention isn’t always a compliment but instead an objectification of myself. I was surrounded by girls that aimed to look and dress a certain way because ‘Josh thinks its cute’. Admittedly, for a while, I also fell into this category; desperate for male attention because it was a mark of validity and popularness. However, when I hit the age of 16, I slowly began to notice that nothing changed if Josh thought my clothes weren’t tight enough or my breasts weren’t big enough, and striving to achieve an impossible image of myself only made me feel miserable. Sadly, telling myself that I was enough, still did not fill this void I had in me of wanting to be accepted and appreciated, and I felt I needed confirmation from males around me for this to be true.
When I began sixth form, my mindset completely changed. Over the long summer we had, I had grown a lot and learned to face situations I was not comfortable with. This involved fighting any anxiety I had and forcing myself to do things I may not have wanted to do. Therefore my mindset had developed a lot, from being childish and naive, to a more independent and confident one. I realised that there was such a strong male presence in everyday life, whether it was just when talking with friends, or when I picked out an outfit in the morning. The ‘strictly no skin’ dress code when being able to wear our own clothes took me back, and I began questioning why the female body was shunned in such a way, as if it was our responsibility to prevent the perverted thoughts of men, which had been encouraged by the sexualisation of simple anatomy through media and influence. I learnt for myself that the ‘social norm’ is not necessary the only way, and definitely not the best way. I soon realised that even strong and independent women were labelled as such because they acted in a dominant and masculine way, and if a women was to act in a feminine way and embrace her body and sexuality as her own, rather than be dictated, she was automatically seen as weak. I couldn’t comprehend how a woman could be seen as a lesser being than a man, but did not see how there could be anything done to change this.
Education has helped a lot, not only in my academic understanding, but it has also opened my eyes to possibilities and movements I may not have been aware of before. Seeing how women have taken the reigns and challenged the patriarchy is empowering. I soon realised that I do not have to sit back and let it happen, but instead can make people understand the importance of equality and how quickly the world is changing.
The apparent generation gap that becomes very visible when discussing feminism is saddening. It shows me how stuck people are in their ways and that they feel it is ‘just the way it is’ and that ‘it will never change’. It’s also scary how many parents will not rise up to their responsibilities and teach their children the importance of equality and power, but instead will let them wilt under social construct. It applies to boys and girls, because as frustrating as it is, without the power of ‘male privilege’ on board, change will be a longer and more straining process, with a lot more knock downs. Although it is a set back that there is a generation gap, it just proves to me that there is hope for the new generations, and that hopefully equality will become second nature and not just a theory.