Let’s Talk About the ‘F’ Word

Not THAT word. I am talking about FEMINISM. Don’t run away yet, I promise this won’t be scary.

The Back Story

The other day I casually walked into my favorite independent book store Boswell Books and sitting right on the first table was this book:

 

I was immediately sucked in by the title and cover. I mean it is literally bright orange. Props to the cover designer of this book because I could not NOT pick it up. And once I did and saw the writing at the bottom “KICK ASS, CLAIM YOUR WOMAN CARD, AND CRUSH EVERYDAY SEXISM” I knew I had to get it. This was before I even truly entered the store OR read the back. I proceeded to purchase it and read it in a couple of days.

My Story

I am a female athlete, engineer, blogger, proud dog and cat mom, and hater of any form of cleaning. And I have witnessed my fair share of everyday sexism. I went to an all girls high school which was a life changing experience for me, transforming me from a shy 14-year old to a confident college freshman. I mean my high school churns out amazing, confident, and extremely smart women every single year.

So, I walked into my first engineering class ready to take on the world. However, going from an all girls high school to a classroom of 30 engineers and being the only girl was quite a shock. But I was ready for it. I knew the statistics of female engineers. So as we split up for our first group project and out of the four people in the group we had to assign roles, a group lead, secretary, design lead, and one other one that I can’t remember.

We get into our groups, as the confident young woman I was, I immediately took over the role of project lead (obviously after discussing with my group mates). However, when my professor walked over, he ASSUMED one of they boys was the lead. He literally said “You are the girl so I assume you are the secretary.” Imagine my shock. Day one of engineering school. AWESOME.

(Disclaimer though, overall my engineering education experience was amazing. Professors were amazing, other students, I encountered very very little sexism throughout my time in engineering school and it was one of the best experiences of my life).

My next major encounter with everyday sexism was when I entered the work force. I was in a class I had to take to handle hazardous waste and we were supposed to carry up boxes of PPE (personal protective equipment), in fact there was a box for everyone. I went down to get my box and the instructor refused to give it to me because “I was a girl and was not strong enough.”

Needless to say I took that box from him and confidently carried it up the stairs, leaving him a bit flustered.

Those are two of many experiences I have had. And I always just got upset, then brushed it off and moved on with my life because that is just the way it is…

Until I Read This Book

Which made me realize that those kinds of experiences are NOT OK. And inspired me to write this post.

Here I thought I had everything figured out, yet I was missing a massive piece of the equation: that those experiences should not be the norm! I always just had my own mini rant session and got over it because I was never injured, no one ever hurt me or anything. BUT those people were being sexist.

I Call Your Bullshit and Raise You One Millennial Feminist

Below is one of my favorite quotes from the book.

“If a guy is put off by you being a feminist, you need to ask yourself how put off you are by someone who doesn’t believe in equality for women.”
― Laura Bates, Girl Up

And that is so true. Feminism at its core is believing in equality for women, that is it. It isn’t about cutting males out of your life (I for one am happily engaged and almost married), or never doing chores because you don’t want to conform (though I do really hate doing chores, thanks Dan for leading the cooking AND cleaning in our house), or not shaving (I definitely shave though no judgement if you don’t), or any of the other stereotypes that go along with feminism.

It is also about supporting other women. ANY other women. This includes not talking bad about someone you know or see on the street, judging other women (or people in general) about how they look, talk, or what they do with their lives, and NEVER assuming things about other women (their career choice, life choices, or anything).

As women, if we talk badly about other people or spread rumors or gossip, well we are just feeding the problem.

Becoming a Feminist 101

  1. Believe that women deserve equal rights.

OK that is all you have to do to become a feminist (no matter your gender, race, language, religion, or culture), congratulations, you probably already are one!

Implementing Feminism 101

Here are some easy ways to fight sexism every day.

  1. Don’t talk poorly about other women (actually, just other people in general, this does not have to be just restricted to women).
  2. Acknowledge sexism in your everyday life: Pay attention to sexism going on around you and if appropriate step in or defend someone dealing with sexism.
  3. Recognize that sexism goes both ways. It really does. Men get just as much crap about being a stay at home parent as women do for choosing to have a career.
  4. Don’t be afraid to be a feminist. There is only one way to change the perception that feminism currently has, and that is talking about it and proving the stereotypes wrong!

Further Education

Clearly the book Girl Up was quite influential to me, and we can ALWAYS be learning more. Just like any other topic, feminism is one with a deep rooted history and is extremely complex. Laura Bates is amazing so next on my list is her other book titled after and inspired by her Everyday Sexism Project. The books is called Everyday Sexism. Her website Everyday Sexism Project (Click the link to be taken to it), is a hub of stories of everyday people that experience everyday sexism. I encourage you to leave a your own story!

Some other awesome books I have read about feminism and female empowerment are:

  1. We Should All Be Feminists By: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A unique essay, formed off of her extremely famous TED X talk, about feminism and its application in the twenty-first century.
  2. A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions By: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I found this book interesting. It is a letter written by the author to her childhood friend after receiving the question of how to raise her daughter a feminist.
  3. Lean In By Cheryl Sandberg: A must read for women with careers. She has another book meant for college graduates that applies to those you are younger in the work force called Lean In for Graduates.

We encounter sexism everyday and the book Girl Up really empowered me to be more aware and take some action (this post for instance). I hope you found the inspiration to embrace the feminist within you, even if it just means becoming more aware of the sexism around you!

 

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