My journey to become a feminist happened completely by accident, as all good things do. I was 16 and the editor of my school paper. I read about a woman who was stoned to death in Iran for her crime of being raped out of wedlock. I cried for this woman and the injustice she had experienced. Her pain was my pain.
I promptly wrote a story, which the school was not going to let me print due to the controversial nature of the piece. It appeared out of place next to the netball draw. However, my journalism teacher made sure the story ran.
Much later, I became interested in the idea of femininity, and after having my usual good hard think about the subject, wrote the following piece called What does it mean to be a woman?
This is still one of the most viewed posts I ever wrote on my first little blog.
Finally, I started a job last year as a conference producer. My first conference was a women in leadership event. This provided an up close and personal look at feminism and the opinions of women in New Zealand and Australia. The resistance was astounding.
And this is understandable, the word gets a bad rap really. It is like the word god – it holds many different meanings to many different people. It is associated with aggressive, masculine looking women, bra-burning and man-bashing. When in reality we have evolved since this time.
However this period in history was incredibly important and needed to happen. From a spiritual perspective, emotions are stacked on a ladder. At the top of the ladder, love and peace reside. At the bottom of this ladder is powerlessness. To reach the top of the ladder, we must move through the emotional scale – often through some uncomfortable feelings.
For many years women were stuck on the bottom rung. Their power had been taken away from them and they didn’t know how to take it back. During the first feminist movement, they stepped up a rung on the ladder. They leaped from the powerless rung up onto the rung of anger. These women were feeling the pain and suffering of all the generations before them and the grief was strong. Our society thinks anger is such a bad thing. But actually, it is an incredibly important visual expression of a person’s step up the ladder. They are no longer powerless. They have shifted from an inward, quietly desperate emotion, to one that fuels action and change. From anger we are able to step onto the rung of acceptance, to inquisitiveness, to optimism, to ambition – right up to confidence, inspiration, power and finally, love.
As women, we are just making our way through the emotions. And it takes time to the climb the rungs.
There are a couple of common misconceptions tied to the word feminism.
The first, is that a feminist woman wants to take the power of a man. We live in a world with a scarcity mindset. Where people believe for one to come into power or success, it must be taken from another. For this reason, many believe that the rise of women will mean the fall of men. When the truth is in fact the opposite. The rise of women will propel men to heights they never knew existed.
Have you heard of the saying happy wife, happy life? A woman who has found her own centre and powerful self holds the unconditional love within her to help all the men AND women in her life reach their greatest potential. For a woman in power doesn’t feel the need to devalue another. She does not need to snatch authority away, because her cup is full. And this woman is an effective agent of change.
Some top CEOs are now pushing to get women in the boardroom. Because they know that collaboration is the key to success. Women don’t need to be men at work, they just need to be women. Both sexes have unique strengths and weaknesses – we balance each other. For this reason, divided we struggle, united we are unstoppable. If we could step out of the power struggle and work together, very special things would happen (this goes for relationships also).
The next misconception is that to be a feminist, you must hold a set of values that are often seen as un-sexy. You must be, act and look a certain way. That is why I included the pictures of me above. This could not be further from the truth.
Let me ask you a few questions…
Do you believe that everyone in this world is entitled to an education?
Do you believe that everyone in this world is entitled to control of their own body and who touches it?
Do you believe that an individual should be paid according to their skills, not their gender?
Do you believe that everyone should wake each day feeling free and alive, not owned?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you may be more of a feminist than you think.
I am a feminist. I believe in equality and life and freedom. I like my bra, it’s pretty and it makes me feel beautiful. I wear heels. I like it when a man looks at me. I love pretty dresses, but I also wear sneakers and large baggy t-shirts to get my morning coffee. Sometimes I wear no make-up and sometimes I do. I love men and I want them to succeed just as much as I want every single woman to have the life she dreams of.
We are in this together. The sooner we realise that, the sooner we will know a world more peaceful and beautiful than has ever, in history, existed.
Much love xx