We Should All Be Feminists

“The higher you go, the fewer women there are. In a literal way, men rule the world. And this made sense 1,000 years ago because human beings lived then in a world in which physical strength was the most important attribute for survival. Men in general are physically stronger – of course there are many exceptions. But today we live in vastly different world. The person more likely to lead is not the physically stronger person – it is the more creative person, the more intelligent person, the more innovative person. And there are no hormones for those attributes.

We have evolved as humans but our ideas of gender have not evolved. I am angry. Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. We should all be angry. I would like to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle them. We define masculinity in very small ways. We teach boys to be afraid of fear. We teach boys to be afraid weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask themselves. And we do a much greater disservice to girls because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of men. We teach girls to shrink themselves – to make themselves smaller.

The language of marriage is often a language of ownership rather than partnership. We use the word respect to mean something a woman shows a man but often not something a man shows a woman. We praise girls for virginity but we don’t praise boys for virginity.

The problem with gender is that is prescribes the way we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Many men do not actively think about gender or notice gender which is part of the problem with gender. And many men do nothing to change it. Gender and class are different forms of systematic oppression.  Gender matters.  Men and women experience the world differently. Some people say that women being subordinate to men is our culture.  But culture is constantly changing. Culture does not make people. People make culture. So if it is in fact true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we must make it our culture.

A feminist is a man or a woman who says yes there is a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it.  We must do better.”

-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian novelist

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