I am a 24 year old girl and my last boyfriend used to jokingly refer to me as a ‘righteous lesbian’ for my feminist tendencies. I don’t even think I’m that much of a feminist at all. However, when I’m told that girls are not as good at something as boys, I will take the bait and argue every time. I grew up with 2 brothers and 4 male cousins. I am smarter than all of them and they know it. I was smarter than most boys throughout my schooling. So don’t tell me I can’t do something just because I’m a girl. I’ll definitely do it better than you if I think you’re a bigot and I want to prove you’re wrong.
But in general, I wouldn’t call myself a feminist. I believe we all suffer in our own private worlds, we all measure ourselves against others and all feel the struggle of social hierarchy. It is in our nature. Male or female, we compare ourselves to others. Yes, women for years and in some parts of the world today are suppressed and abused. It is easy to take for granted the comparative freedom we have in the UK. I am fortunate enough to not feel restricted by my gender at all.
Perhaps our experience of the world is determined by our perceptions of it. If you expect people to stereotype you for your gender or sexual persuasion, then it seems to you, that they do so. I don’t feel suppressed by anyone and therefore I am not.
It is also our nature to label things; that’s the essential construct of our language, the thing that both joins us and separates us from each other. We name things, we ‘put them in a box’. This is black, this is white; this is male, this is female. We must remember this is just a way of communicating ideas to each other. A word doesn’t necessarily have to have negative associations; but the way we interpret each other’s words depends on our own personal histories; our pains, our pleasures, our experiences. And so, when someone may use a word impartially, it may be interpreted very differently depending on that person’s history.
The key to equality is in each individual being at peace with themselves. It is easy to blame others for your own inner disharmony, but ultimately it is our own personal responsibility and we ourselves hold the key to our gates of change. There’s a lot wrong with this world; but looking at our ancestors, the primate social world is based on hierarchy. We haven’t risen above that yet, despite our so-called higher reasoning, consciousness and ‘civilisation’. We still play by monkey rules. The desire for equality is the most civilised thing we can lay claim to, but we are very far from achieving that on a global scale. The least we can do, is make our own little corners of the world a more equal place. And to do that, we need to stop blaming others and take some personal responsibility; male or female.