By: Morin Mawhinney

One sunny afternoon, as I sat blissfully scrolling through my Facebook feed, I was suddenly confronted with an article shared by an acquaintance. The title was, “Why I’m not a feminist, and I’m okay with that.” Curiosity taking hold, I cautiously investigated further. As I began to read, I realized the ill-informed author, who was coincidentally a woman, had a very skewed idea of Feminism. She painted a picture of judgemental expectations set on woman, shaming them into having a career over staying at home.

Allow me to inform you, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, Feminism is “the belief that men and woman should have equal opportunities.” Notice it does not mean men and women are the same, that men are in any way lesser, or that a woman is conforming to a sexist idea of femininity if she doesn’t choose to have a career (being a stay at home mom is probably the hardest job in the world). It means she now has the option to stay at home, or become a powerful CEO without being called, “a career woman”, or more commonly, “a bitch”. In extension, it means a man can stay at home without feeling ashamed for doing a job that was previously labeled “a woman’s duty”. In the 21st century, hopefully, most people already believe that, whether they identify as a Feminist or not. Of course, Feminism is an ideology and it is not always confined to that simple definition, so here is why I’m a Feminist, and I’m very okay with that.

In grade 11, I was seeing a boy. My parents adored him, and I liked him, but he had trouble respecting the word “No”. It was my first relationship, so I figured that was normal. He was my boyfriend after all, and you did that sort of thing with your boyfriend; never mind the fact I wasn’t ready, and I’d told him that multiple times. He disregarded my voice until it felt as though I didn’t have one. Each time I put my foot down, he ignored it and it added another brick in the wall of self-hatred. This was because, obviously, it had to of been my fault. When the relationship ended, it took time, many Feminist Pinterest accounts, and a couple strong women in my life, but I came to realize this; No is the final word. It shouldn’t be pushed, it shouldn’t have to be repeated, it shouldn’t have to be explained and it shouldn’t be something I’m afraid to say.  That beautiful idea is Feminism in action.

The second impact that Feminism had on my day to day life was that of body image. I know for certain that I’m not the only one who has things they dislike about themselves. As I stood in the badly lit bathrooms of my old high school, it seemed like a competition to see what girl could hate her appearance most. How poisonous is that to a person? Being surrounded by constant self-loathing? But not only that, you’re basically expected to participate! Not to mention that means you’re putting 110% of your self worth directly into your appearance. I’m 150lbs, and that’s an average weight for a girl my age and height; so why was that never good enough? Because for 18 years I’ve been absorbing  pictures messages like “Here’s how to lose weight fast!” and “Ten Ab Workouts That’ll Make Your Guy Go Crazy!”  Here’s the crazy part, having cellulite isn’t a bad thing. It’s natural. In those bathroom sessions of self disgust, I started to rewire my mind. “Ugh, look at my tummy. I am getting so Fa…BULOUS!” In a world where hating yourself is an expectation, loving your body is a revolutionary act.

Feminism has made me strong. It has changed my perspective on the world, I believe, for the better. I don’t think I’m above men, I think I deserve the same opportunities and respect as a man without being constantly labeled, “A bossy bitch.” And yes, I’ve gotten that before. And if I really am, so be it. I’ll needle point it on a pillow because I’m one domestic motherfucker.
As always, here at the Cadre we love feedback so if you have any questions, concerns, comments or rants, send them our way! Email me at mmawhinney@upei.ca.