Nathan // feminism 07

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What do you think it means to be a woman? I think being a woman means exactly that – being of the female gender. It means that you are a person. In most Western cultures today this means that you were born, raised, and educated the same way that most men are. I am not saying there’s not room for improvement here; there most definitely is. But it is no longer the case that the majority of women don’t have the same upbringing as their male siblings; I believe the majority now do. So to me, being born and raised in a Western society, being a woman means being a person, the same as me. However, I know this is defined differently in other cultures, which I will touch upon in the final prompt.

What’s your favorite thing about women? I don’t believe that there are any generic things that apply to all women beyond the obvious biological differences from men, so I will approach this prompt as “What’s your favorite thing about the women in your life?” To me, one of my favorite things about the women in my life is that they are such great listeners. When I have had things bothering me that required resolution that I wasn’t getting from my male friends, I received that resolution by talking with my female friends. This is one of the reasons why I am so close to some of my female friends – I have opened up to them, and they in turn have opened up to me, enabling a closer friendship than I have with some of my male friends.
I don’t want to leave this prompt without addressing this either, however my beliefs are such that I don’t believe this applies to just women: companionship/relationships are also one of my favorite things about women. I have a girlfriend who I care very much about, and who I know cares very much about me – a kind of relationship that is different than just friendship. As a straight male, I seek this sort of relationship with women, thus it is one of my favorite things about them. However, I’m not one who believes this sort of relationship is limited to just to women, which is why I did not list it first.

How do you feel you are different from women? Besides the obvious biological differences, I don’t feel any different than women. I have met both women and men that have personalities typically stereotyped for one gender or another, and have viewed them as simply a person, as I do everyone. The brain is what makes a person who they are – thoughts, experiences, upbringing, education, religion – these are the things that make each person different, not gender. Gender plays a role in how an individual defines themselves, be the person male or female, but should not play a role in how society defines that person.

Do you ever change or hide parts of yourself to please society? I’ve never really hidden any part of myself to please society – I was always upfront about who I was. Middle school is a little ways back, but I can remember back in high school bringing my Nintendo DS to class, playing it during Academic Lab, talking about building computers, typical nerdy/geeky stuff. I also remember having a contest with a friend to see who could remember more lines from ‘La Vie Boheme’ from Rent. I have however changed myself to fit society – I forced myself to become more outgoing, better able to talk to people I don’t know. I did this by volunteering to lead group projects, doing some volunteer work, being a summer camp counselor, etc. Society, particularly college, is not the kindest to introverted people, and I changed myself because of it. I am not the same person I was before college, but for me, the change I made was for the better.

What comes to mind when you hear the word feminism? People who fight for furthering the rights of women, ensuring that they are treated the same and have the same opportunities as men. For me, the word means more than simply being pro-equality; it means activism. That’s not to mean I’m putting down people who are pro-equality, not at all – I myself am pro-equality. I believe that a person is a person regardless of gender, and that women should have all the opportunities that men have, and deserve to be treated with the same respect. It’s just for me, when I hear the word feminism, I think of activism.

Would you call yourself a feminist? As I define the word feminist (see the above prompt), no, I’m not a feminist. I’ve never actively participated in trying to further the equality of women in a meaningful way that would have an impact on society at large. However, that’s not to say I am negligent – if I saw a situation where a woman was being mistreated, I would try and right it if I could. However, this does not just apply to women – if I saw a male being mistreated, I would try to right that situation as well. To better put it, I look at people as people; if I saw anyone being insulted, sexually harassed, or some other form of negative interaction, I would try to stop it.Why does feminism matter? Feminism matters because in many other cultures, the type of answers I have given to these prompts are not the answers a majority of the population would give. I do not even mean men when I say this; many women would answer differently as well. I believe feminism matters because women around the world are being treated as second-class citizens, and their governments are doing nothing to change it. They are not allowed to dress as they wish, act as they wish, or say what they wish. They also do not have the same access to education, which I believe is the most important thing every human should have. Feminism is important to changing the way these societies think about women – if there were nobody trying to change things, things wouldn’t change. What happened to Malala Yousafzai is a prime example of why this is so important  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malala_Yousafzai). The Taliban is a more extreme example, but the fact that Malala was shot for voicing her opinion about education of women shows that feminism is needed to promote equality of women the world over.

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