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Opinion: Debunking myths about Feminism

Zoha Adeel | Islamabad, Pakistan

“Feminism is corrupting the minds of young people.”

“What do you think feminism means?”

“Feminism means giving women more power than they should have.”

This is exactly what is wrong with major arguments against feminism. Most of the people who are against feminism have no idea what it actually means. I was reluctant to call this out for so long because I thought it makes you unlikeable in the eyes of most people. But, I believe it's so important to see beyond what people think of me, and raise awareness about this much-needed, and very misinterpreted concept.

Feminism is about equality. Plain and simple. Most people cannot accept that because they are accustomed to the way things are right now.

They do not want to break traditions. To most people, it doesn't even matter how wrong those traditions are, it just matters how regularly they are practiced. If a girl goes missing for a day, some families won't even file a report because their reputation is far too important - even more important than whether or not their daughter is actually alive. I could go on about this, about everything wrong with this mentality but I think the majority of people reading this already know that. Women know when they're wrongfully oppressed and are well acquainted with everyday discrimination. They know what's happening to them is erroneous but it's not that easy to stand up to it.

It's certainly not easy facing people who say, “women are getting too out of control” and don't realize how uninformed that statement is. Women are becoming stronger, less malleable, and fighting for their rights - which some people do not like. We must continue to stand up against injustices, and call people out when they make crude remarks or sexist jokes. Even if it seems like the hardest thing you have done in your life, it's not wrong. You cannot be treated differently just because you are a woman.

While progress is being made in Pakistan, the deeply intrenched inequalities make even the smallest of steps towards equality seem like a big deal. For example, if a man allows his wife to work, he is praised and treated like a king. I'm not being ungrateful, I'm just wondering why a man is being so immensely praised for doing the bare minimum - something that women have been doing for so long. Women should all get the opportunity to work if they would like to, and just like men, they can't be caged. Instead of praising men for allowing them to work, which they should be doing anyways, men should be encouraged to work towards helping women and creating even more equitable opportunities for them. Like combatting workplace harassment, or increasing educational opportunities. And of course I wouldn't be fit to call myself a feminist if I didn't talk about men. Toxic masculinity is a big problem too. Men are held up to unrealistic standards and treated poorly if they behave in a way that is even slightly out of line from the norms about masculinity.

People will always find ways to stop feminism, using culture and traditions but the simple fact is forcing women to do something, to be something they're not, is just wrong no matter how you justify it. If a person tells you you can't do something because you're a girl, what you're supposed to do is to prove them wrong. In order to make a change, a real change, you need to step out of your comfort zone and speak up for what's right, even if it seems like all the odds are stacked against you. You can have a profound positive impact in the world, even with a little step. One of the main reasons cruelty towards women and toxic masculinity exists, is because those who are against it, are silenced. If we unite and start a movement for change, it will be harder to silence us. The good thing is that it's easier to express yourself and reach others these days, using social media.

You shouldn't let little everyday acts of sexism go unnoticed. At first I thought a small remark doesn't hurt anybody, but I've come to realize that it actually does. We are just accustomed to believing that it does not make a difference when in reality it's these little things that fuel the fire.

“You hit like a girl”

“Stop being such a girl”

The word girl is made to sound like an insult. It is used to degrade women and makes them think they're weak, which in turn silences them when speaking up for themselves. All this everyday day discrimination leads to crimes such as honour killings, rape, domestic violence, the list goes on. Yet people are still frantically typing at their keyboards to become the moral police when they see a victim telling their story and spreading awareness. Of course, there are caveats to this when women pretend to be victims and take away the credibility of real victims' stories, but that's a discussion for another time. The simple truth is, in order to prevent issues like harassment and gender-based violence from continuing, we must speak up. I, for one, am proud of being a girl. Being a girl is awesome. I wrote this because it makes me feel powerful and everyone deserves to feel powerful.

Are you gonna sit by and have your whole life pass by wondering what it could have been like if the world was a better place or are you gonna try to make the world better for you and so many others like you? I encourage you all to use your voice to stand up against injustice, and support the causes you believe in.

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