I am a feminist.
I cannot say there were some severe examples of discrimination in my childhood I have responded harshly to.
I have been fed up with hearing all the time, "You're a girl and you have to ..." followed by the list of my "obligations": wear a dress, be polite, know how to cook, "because who would marry you such as you are..."
I remember I was fighting with my parents for the right to go to school in pants as it was more comfortable for me.
"You're a girl and you have to..." It became my subconscious fear. It was being imposed upon me, leaving no choice. I did not feel comfortable always.
I even tried to protest against it in my own way. It was a sort of a teenage resistance... I did not know the word "feminism" when I was 12-15 years old.
Having grown up and learned about the feminist movement, I realized this is it.
Why am I a feminist?
Feminism is about the fact that the present-day society is unfair. And this refers not only to the inequalities between women and men. This refers to the inequality of any oppressed groups, such as ethnic, sexual, and so on.
What is now described as the third-wave feminism, the postmodern feminism talks about diversity, first and foremost. Not all men are the same, not all women are the same.
It is the multiplicity of identity which influences the balance of our "privileges" in each specific situation. So, if we take a white heterosexual woman and compare her to a dark-skinned gay man, it is not yet known whose status will be more oppressed.
Skin color, status of a refugee or a displaced person, a different speech accent often form "another", mainly negative attitude to a person. This depressed me.
I started looking for the answers. I got the degree in gender studies.
Subsequently, it became obvious to me that the patriarchal system of the society is unfair. A certain group of people benefits from having certain privileges, and nobody wants to give the physical and resource power easily.
The state built on hierarchy, if not shaken, is very handy for people management. It’s much more difficult to manage egalitarian society - the society with equal opportunities for management and access to material benefits for all its members. Therefore, I am a feminist. I want to feel and know that I have equal rights and equal opportunities.
By the way, patriarchy is advantageous for neither women nor men. Although, it is not obvious. There is a constant demand that men must be strong and successful. Men are expected to achieve more than women. Men should not show emotions. However, it is a great stress, so men often die earlier.
Raising the gender issues, criticizing, the feminists (both women and men, the latter being a rather numerous group!) undermine the standard system, which have been never questioned by the majority.
We have got used to this system so much, we feel so comfortable in it so that we do not notice that it's unfair....
Moreover, the women have managed to find their own benefit and get a little bit power in the present situation. How? "A woman is a neck", a woman waits for the gifts in form of furs or a car (whatever is necessary), a woman exerts psychological pressure (as they say, "eats head off"), a woman feels comfortable in the status of a victim...
By the way, for me, the psychological violence against men is the reverse side of the same coin. Women are often unable to make decisions and often use it having no other levers of influence. The patriarchal world does not perceive seriously what is being told by a woman. It’s not a surprise that a tool of psychological violence is all a woman has.
And yes, it's bad to eat someone’s head off.
You may ask how to bring up sons and daughters in this case?
In my ideal world, any education shouldn’t depend on the gender of a child.
There are certain rules how people can interact respecting each other's boundaries.
You should be a polite child, not because you're a girl. You should not make your dress dirty not because you're a girl. And you should not beat someone not because you're a boy, but because it is wrong to hurt other people.
You can bring up a child as a personality without reference to gender: it's real, but we have not got used to it.
This is probably the biggest challenge. The "male" and "female" patterns were learned in childhood. And it is not the mathematics studied at school. These are basic behavior patterns, formed under the influence of our parents, our environment, the books we read, what we see on TV... And we usually do not reflect.
And when I face the fact that men look down upon the things said by a woman, when I see sexist posters in the city showing naked women advertising for tile, concrete, washing machine.
When I see to what extent a woman is perceived as an object in the mass culture.
When the level of domestic violence against women ways over the limit.
When female circumcision is still practiced to control women's sexuality - all these facts provoke my resistance and further strengthen my desire to change something. I once again make sure that feminism makes sense.
Anna Dovgopol – feminist, Gender Democracy program coordinator at the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Ukraine
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