Well, maybe it is, maybe not. It certainly is a post about human rights and people’s right to be regarded and treated as equals regardless of their sex and gender. The reason I am hesitant to say that this a post about feminism, is that I have never read an actual book about it. All my information comes from the internet and even though there are great resources out there, I feel that a book including research and having a specific structure can offer deeper knowledge than online articles, which are usually filled with hate in the comments sections.
Like anyone out there watching the news (or reading them online, in my case), I knew about all the brutality and cruelty that goes on against women in many parts of the world. And I felt angry about it, but at the same time felt lucky that I didn’t have to go through these tortures. I also recognized the pressure that the media puts on women, regarding their social role and their body image. But being naturally skinny, I never really suffered from it. And I have my mother to thank for that, who never told me that I would be more beautiful if I put on make up/added 2 kg of boobs/ shaved my legs/ plucked my eyebrows/ dyed my hair. I did all those things (minus the boob job) but it was due to my own interest to experiment with my self. Yes, the leg-shaving part was due to social pressure, but I was not able to realize it back when I was 18.
Feminism and Veganism
After becoming a vegan though, I started reading several articles on how people do not respect other species and do not respect each other as well. It seems strange, but only after I realized animal cruelty, did I start seeing injustice within the human society much more clearly. First it was a blog about fat vegans, where people stated that because they were vegan, people expected them to be skinny and that put a lot of pressure on them. This led me to a few blogs against fat-shaming. And from there I was led to feminist blogs. There is a very interesting concept within the vegan community, that you cannot be a feminist and not be vegan. This article explains it in a great way. Read the whole of it, if you want. I am just copying a part that I think is the gist.
it’s impossible to truly be a feminist while consuming dairy (or any animal products), as the entire animal industry is built on the exploitation of the female reproductive system. This must be recognized as a feminist issue because it is analogous to the feminist movement’s struggle for women to have control of their own bodies.
Animals of both sexes suffer under institutionalized exploitation. However, the female of the species often experiences more prolonged abuse, including an ongoing cycle of forceful artificial insemination (mechanical or manual rape), physical abuse of her mammary glands, and invariably being separated from her young; all of these are emotionally brutal experiences for the female members of any species.
To me, this statement makes great sense. And of course I started wondering how was it possible to be a vegan but not define myself as a feminist. I thought about it and it is hard to admit, but I believe that it has a lot to do with the fact that the word “feminist” still has a negative connotation. I plead guilty of also making jokes like “I am not a feminist at all. If you want to work and I can stay at home, do nothing, great!”. Bad. I know. And it is bad because at that moment I did not realize that you can choose to be a stay-at-home mom/partner/wife and be a feminist. I also had in my mind those caricature images of raging feminists who just hate every male on the planet. Why? Well, because that is the way the media present them (if they present feminism at all).
A huge misunderstanding
I thought that feminists are all the same: angry, un-shaved, probably lesbians and certainly women. I am ashamed of admitting my ignorance, but at the same time I feel it is more important to talk about it openly, in case it can help other realize what is wrong with this stream of thought. I quickly realized that feminists can be -and are- of any sex, gender, sexual orientation. That they can be thin or fat, raging or peaceful, shaved or waxed, teens or in their 80s. I also discovered this great blog. Go have a look. It’s a proof about what I just said.
When I started reading through some of the posters’ messages, I started to realize how much I needed feminism myself. The fact that I was afraid to go in a cab on my own, the fact that I was scared to walk in the streets at night and have learned to accept inappropriate comments and whistles coming from men when walking on the street (regardless of what I was wearing, not that it should matter) were all signs that I have just gotten used to the role that patriarchy was saving for me. Later on I read more on the sneaky ways that rape culture works and I can think of two very clear instances in my life that I was made to believe that I have provoked the predator, not talking about what happened because of stupid guilt trips. That’s when it was absolutely clear for me that feminism needs to exist. It needs to spread, it needs to be talked about, and fought for, until it is no longer needed (much like veganism, that won’t need to have a special name, once we are all vegan 🙂 ).
The signs! Look at the signs!
I decided to write this article because during the last month I have been seeing so many outrageous things happening around me, here in our “civilized” western world.
First, it was the “Blurred lines” video of Robin Thickle, that inspired Elizabeth Plank to write this article. I fully agree with what she says and I found some of the comments disturbing and worrisome. But you can read and judge for yourself.
Then, it was this article, that describes how a bunch of students were bullied for standing up for their basic human rights. Here you can see more pictures.
Then, it was this more fun to watch video, still talking about the serious subject of stereotypes and women not being viewed as equals. Geek girls being blamed by geek boys as being “fake”.
And last but not least, the ever-inspiring Amanda Palmer, reacted to an awful article of a tabloid about her Glastonbury festival appearance and she decided to respond in the most amazing way ever.
Now, I know that this has been a long post with tons of links, but you can take your time and watch and read one thing at a time. I just felt the need to write it and share my personal story on how I finally realized that being a feminist is still important -crucial, I would say- and that feminists are not some sort of vampires or zombies or Extra Terrestrials wanting to take over the Earth. If you feel that they are, you have not read enough. If you want to find more material, this blog has many links in English, Spanish and Greek. I am in the process of exploring it myself.
Compassion for all
If you want to know more about why I bothered to write this post and who the hell am I to rant about feminism, animal rights, gay rights and the like, please have a look at our “About” page.
Great article! So to the point…Some of my questions about feminism were answered in this article. Thank you!
I am glad you liked it Emma! As I wrote, I have still many questions that need answers and many studying needs to be done. But we do need to start somewhere, right?
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Your credit for the Feminism is Cool photo is incorrect. I made that, my name is Midge Belickis. I run a shop called Modern Girl Blitz, which is where that design can be found.