Feminism. A tricky topic to approach if you’re uneducated about its true concepts. Many misogynists have transformed this word into a negative, man-hating type of idea; when in reality it’s quite the opposite. My definition of feminism is the absolute freedom to pursue what you’re passionate about and not be tied down by the ridiculous expectations of society. Feminism is the idea that women and men are equals and should be treated as such.

Being a woman in modern times has its pros and cons. Living in the United States women are definitely more protected than other places where they kill them for leaving the house without male supervision. We’ve worked extremely hard and fought for the basic human rights and freedoms that we enjoy today. While we have earned much more respect than we’ve been shown in the past, problems like domestic abuse, assault, unfair job opportunities, and blatant sexism are still very real issues in our world today.

When asked “What makes you feel oppressed?” many teenage girls from Davis High responded:

“Social construction or expectations and toxic masculinity.” said Mikaela Ponce

“Gender roles in careers, and women not being highlighted even though they’re completely capable.” adressed Shelby White

“Men being in charge and not being able to see yourself in those positions.” stated Lexi Smith

“Men seeing you as an object and having non-achievable expectations.” added Lauren Rusnell

Toxic Masculinity is a plague that will take over the minds of every male host and destroy whatever good is left in this world. Boys, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to enjoy watching a good chick flick. It’s okay to paint a picture of a pretty bouquet of flowers. The truth is, running away from “girly” things doesn’t make you more manly. It makes you a coward to your own deep personal inner thoughts and feelings. So shed a good tear or two, whimper if you must. But don’t bottle up all your feelings until you become desensitized to the thought of having human emotions.

Don’t even think about telling a girl she can’t do something because it’s too manly. A woman can do whatever she sets her mind to and if that irritates you I suggest you go deep into the jungle and ponder the way your brain is wired for a few long days. The next time I hear a man tell a woman “You can’t do that, that’s a man’s job…” I will not hesitate to stand up for a fellow sister.

The way children are raised has much to do with the sexism women are constantly punched in the face with. I’m sorry to burst your stereotypical, feeble-minded bubble, but women do not have to be stay at home moms. Women are ambitious, hardworking, creative, dedicated lady tigers that have dreams and goals they will accomplish. They don’t have to get married, have kids, cook, clean, wear make up, or fit a certain body standard. Women are completely capable of providing and taking care of themselves and any man who says otherwise can take their complaints to Oprah or Ellen DeGeneres.

There are many different messages in the media that tell women how to be respected and admired. Many of these messages, however, aren’t helping our case. Showing risky amounts of skin and looking as hot as we can isn’t empowering. Running down a busy street topless isn’t going to help us out sadly. When we dress a certain way to fit the expected mold of a woman, we’re not respecting ourselves. That’s just giving men exactly what they want and promoting the idea that we’re just objects to look at. Of course women should be completely comfortable and love their bodies, but wearing nearly nothing and calling it empowering isn’t going to earn you the respect you deserve.

I asked the same group of girls “What makes you feel empowered?” And they answered the following:

“Being passionate about things and doing whatever makes you happy. And doing things for yourself.”
Mikaela Ponce explained

“Proving you can do whatever a man can do! Having the same education, same jobs!” Shelby White exclaimed

“A group of girls getting hyped and supporting other women’s experiences.” said Lexi Smith

“Other powerful influential women, and education because knowledge is power.” stated Lauren Rusnell

In my experience, I feel most empowered when men don’t treat me differently just because of my gender. I feel respected when men listen to me and care about my opinions and ideas. I feel happy when they compliment a personality trait instead of a physical characteristic I have. Then I know they see me for the person I am and not the body my soul is trapped in. Looks can only take you so far. If you’re nothing but a hollow shell of worldly beauty, you’re going to feel pretty empty and dissatisfied with your life when the wrinkles kick in.

It can be incredibly hard to survive and thrive as a teenage girl in this day and age. But when you stop focusing on men’s expectations, you start to realize what YOU want and what makes YOU happy. Next time you feel helpless and unappreciated, remember what Susan B. Anthony and and Sojourner Truth did to get us this far. More importantly, think of what you can do to get us even further. YOU DON’T OWE NOBODY NOTHIN’! And I live by that.

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