I declared myself a feminist while I was an undergraduate English Literature student. This was because I was profoundly affected when I learnt about how distinct and separate sex and gender are, the binary oppositions which are used to make the female sex seem inferior to the male sex and how fragile the patriarchy really is.
Any past or present English Literature university student will tell you the amount of times they have seen or said the words ‘gender’, ‘sex’, ‘masculinity’, ‘femininity’ etc within lectures and debates in seminars. One thing that we are good at is detecting the representation of sex/gender within different forms of literature and how these conform to or defy the social expectations of men and women at the time the piece of literature was written.
While I only recently realised that I could identify myself as a feminist, I have been an individual who has mostly defied against how women are expected to act and behave since a young age. I didn’t like to associate with the colour pink, wear skirts/dresses and make-up as a child and teenager because I didn’t want to be considered a ‘girly girl’. As a result I was sometimes referred to as a ‘tomboy’ who would arm wrestle with boys to show how tough I was and I liked to watch cartoons which, at the time, were considered for boys to watch, including Beyblade, Digimon and Pokemon.
Maybe the fact that I didn’t want to be called a ‘girly girl’ was because of the negativity associated with it, such as being emotional, weak and fragile. I wasn’t aware at the time that I was defying how young women should behave, but maybe that could be my parent’s influence, especially my mother. There were phases when I would be wearing pink, skirts/dresses and make-up because my mum liked to see me that way, but I disliked it. She allowed me to experience what it was like to conform as a young woman, but I obviously found myself better off just being me.
It’s sad that young women (girls) cannot act as they want to without receiving negativity and criticism from others. Maybe I was afraid to look like a girl because of this negativity. But then again, maybe I was proving the strength of girls by arm wrestling with boys. Whatever I was doing, I was ignorant of the fact that I was defying standards set out by a patriarchy.
If I was aware of this at a much younger age, then maybe I could’ve acted upon it and done something positive. I could have helped young girls and teenagers by encouraging to have the confidence to be themselves and how to be prepared with comebacks when confronted by boys. They say that ‘ignorance is bliss’; it really isn’t!
Well, it’s better late than never. I feel so much more intellectual and better about myself as a result of learning about how to find examples of gender representation within literature. I post blogs about issues women and men face on a daily basis, including body hair, body image, make-up and much more.
I am a believer of equal rights between the sexes.
I am a believer that your sex does not dictate your gender.
I am a believer that everyone should be who they want to be, without feeling restricted or receiving negative feedback for being different.
I am a believer of individuality.
I am a believer that sexism needs to be eradicated.