Amber Warning, by Amber Kirk-Ford, October 21, 2014

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In my English lesson the other day, we were given the essay topic: “Women cannot do the jobs that men can. Explain why.”

As a class we made a list of reasons. Both boys and girls were shouting out reasons like, “Women are weak!” or “Women have less mental capacity!” and perhaps the most shocking of all, “Women have no muscles.”

I’m pretty sure if that were true, my fingers wouldn’t have the ability to type this right now because I’d be a pile of skin and bone on the floor.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, yes, I am a feminist, but don’t let that put you off reading the rest of this short column.

‘Feminist’ isn’t a bad word, although lots of people believe it to be, and I used to be one of them. All it means is that I stand for equality. That’s all.

When I was younger, I didn’t really pay attention to gender discrimination, and I’d never even heard the word ‘feminism’ until a couple of years ago.

People at school would always use the phrase “like a girl” as an insult. “You run like a girl,” they would say, and I never truly understood how that could be used against me because I am a girl, so of course I run like one, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Gender inequality became more glaringly obvious as time went on. My friend was sent home from school because her skirt was too short and a group of boys were disrupting the lesson because of it, but instead of sending the boys out, my friend was sent home despite the fact she was ignoring them and working.

Surely that’s giving out the message that her education was somehow less important than theirs, and she missed an entire day of school so they could be distraction-free.

As a baby my mother dressed me in bright colours rather than pink, and often older people would stop us in the street and say, “He’s a lovely little chap, isn’t he?” When my mother would explain that I was a girl, they would usually respond with, “But…she’s wearing green.”

I’m not sure when the whole ‘blue for boys, pink for girls’ thing came about but I’ve always thought it was unnecessary, and probably just another way for companies to squeeze as much money out of us as they can.

These are just the minor red flags of inequality, and don’t get me started on wage gaps or the fact that we’re taught how to protect ourselves instead of being taught not to do things that require being protected in the first place.

As Emma Watson recently said in her speech about feminism, this isn’t just an issue for women. Boys are seen as weak if they show any inkling of having emotion, and they’re told by the media that they must look a certain way just as much as we females are.

I honestly don’t understand how people can be against feminism. Of course, each person is entitled to their own opinion, but it’s just the belief that gender equality should exist.

That’s it. It’s not about man-hating or about women getting to do everything that men get to do. As I said, it works to benefit guys too. Possibly, these equal rights I and many others wish for shouldn’t even be called equal rights.

They should just be treated as human rights, because we are human and we all, whatever gender, should be treated as one. If you believe in gender equality, you’re a feminist. It really is as simple as that.