Feminism is a term that has come to mean a lot. Fundamentally though, it’s about respecting the rights of women and girls, especially in cases where women have been historically or systematically disenfranchised and discriminated against. It seems like a simple idea, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The ways in which women have been slighted systematically by society and the government have been and continue to be enumerable. This includes everything from the basic right to vote to the toxic attitude towards femininity displayed through phrases such as: ‘women shouldn’t play sports’.
In day-to-day life, I and the people around me, of all genders, notice this sexism and discriminatory attitude at play, yet continue to choose a path of inaction. The main reason many choose a path of inaction is that they do not believe it to be an issue, don’t know how to, or most damaging of all because it does not seem to be an issue that affects them directly. This ideology is harmful and pushes the toxic, discriminatory environment onto all social situations.
Furthermore, the ideology that sexism is not an issue could not be farther from the truth, with 80% of women haven experienced some kind of sexual violence, and 40% reporting workplace discrimination, the issue of sexism is ever-present in the lives of women and girls. It is no longer a question of whether there is an issue but how you can work to mitigate it. The stunning statistics present a world in which no matter your gender you cannot distance yourself from this issue. Everybody will invariably have friends, parents, siblings, or coworkers who have experienced sexual assault and discrimination. The fact that you might not often hear about it speaks nothing to its prevalence and everything to the societal attitude of sweeping it under the rug.
Simply by listening openly to those around you, you realize that the prevalence of this issue is undeniable and the lack of support towards those who are victims of this issue becomes inhumane. Hence, as a supporter the best things you can do is listen, and call out discrimintation or inappropriate behavior. Though there is a lot of work to be done to eliminate this issue, these seemingly small acts of support will ensure that perpetrators of this discrimination know that it’s not acceptable in any form. In simple terms, be a feminist, and stand up for those around you.
By Joshua Him