The Spice Girls. (Source: Evensi.com)
Girl power is a fairly new slogan and movement which sees its origin in around 1991 when US punk band Bikini Kill published a feminist zine called Girl Power. The band's lead singer, Kathleen Hanna, said was inspired by the Black Power slogan and thus framed this one to articulate an agenda for young women in and outside of music. It was further popularised by British pop quintet Spice Girls in the mid-1990s.
But who is our opposition? Clear;y its those who feel women are weaker. We are fighting Patriarchy!
Where did Patriarchy come from? Why is it still here? (Source: Penangmonthly.com)
“Boys will be boys.”
This idea that men are biologically “programmed” to behave in certain ways, against all scientific evidence, is one of the biggest cultural narratives that continues our current patriarchal systems. This justifies there aggression, violence and superiority complex.
Celebrating “macho” or “alpha” men.
Jackson Katz discusses how often society promotes dangerous and commanding aspects of male culture in his book The Macho Paradox. Our language and media cultivate this image of what "real men" look like, from lifting the "strong" hero to denigrating "sissies."
Men believing they should be silent, instead of challenging other men on patriarchal and sexist ideas/actions.
As described above, one of patriarchy's most subtle features is that it seeks to protect traditional male behaviors and behavior. Even some men would never agree to some actions/ideas/ language, they disregard those very same things when their peers participate in them.
“It’s a women’s issue.”
Patriarchy and sexual violence impact both men and women. Patriarchy impacts everyone, at all levels of society and thus this narrative that patriarchy affects only women takes away men from the scenario of fighting it.
While there are countless other frames that advocate patriarchy, these are a few of the most prominent.
What is feminism? (Source: theconversation.com)
Feminism is a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes. As aptly put by Casey Cavanagh, “Feminists are not angry lesbians who hate men. Feminists do not believe women are better than men, or that women deserve special privileges. They do not believe women are victims. In order to be considered a feminist, you only need to be on board with one idea: All humans, male and female, should have equal political, economic and social rights.” But because of the misinformation spread out through male-dominated media, we know how being a feminist has turned out to be a “negative” quality. Moreover, many people including a plethora of women, feel that feminism is a thing of past, that we dont need it now, after all, we can vote, right? That’s true. In fact, in all demographics, females vote more than men do. Yet, women still hold less than 14 percent of seats in the Lok Sabha, even though they make up half the population. Some believe the patriarchal system doesn’t exist because we have equal employment opportunities. But if this were really the case would there still be a 24.81 percent pay gap?
Many women, feel that they have equal opportunities but we need feminism until every woman feels the same way.
We still need feminism because when people get married it is assumed the woman will take up the man’s last name. We need it because when women are assaulted, they are often the ones who feel ashamed. We still need feminism because we teach women how to prevent rape, instead of teaching people to not view women as objects. Because women are told that walking alone at night makes them “an easy target.” Because, sometimes, a movie’s rating (PG-13 versus R) depends on how much a female appears to be enjoying sex in a certain scene. We still need feminism because our bodies are still being legislated, because McDonald’s still asks us if we want a girl or boy toy, because we use terms like “bitch” and pussy” to imply weakness.
We need feminism because FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), the act of cutting off and restitching female genitals to prevent pleasurable sex which can happen to girls as young as 5 months old, is still practiced in 29 countries. Because more than 120 countries don’t have laws against marital rape, and still allow child brides, some of which are as young as 6 years old. We need feminism because infanticides can be attributed to millions of fewer females than males in Middle Eastern countries. Because in Afghanistan and Pakistan women going to college can be considered justifiable grounds for disfiguring or shooting. Because marrying your choice get a girl killed for honor. We need feminism because girls are still told that they can be good “teachers or doctors” and discouraged from pursuing things they actually like. I have so much more to write, but I hope you got the point.
Hold Men Accountable-
Hell yes. (Source: medium.com)
We live in a world full of male entitlement, and thats why patriarchy thrives. Many believe that it’s okay for men to treat women as inferior, or inhuman in many unfortunate cases. We hear politicians, lawmakers, and academicians saying “boys will be boys”. This teaches young girls to tolerate male aggression and change their ways accordingly, which is so detrimental to equality. We also see how victims are blamed and asked to accommodate the violence and stay quiet. We need to make it a point to hold men accountable for their actions. Next time someone eve teases you, or another girl, speak out against it.
Question conventional gender paradigms-
Gender paradigms need to change. (Source: nahswipeleft.com)
Conventional gender paradigms are harmful to both sexes. On one hand, it takes away the opportunity from women to express their anger, emotions, and feelings freely, it also compels men to always be “strong”. We need to stop this dichotic, limiting view of what men and women can be. It’s time to encourage people to embrace the full spectrum of individuality. There is a need for our cultures to allow people to express themselves freely and adopt a sensitive and gentle attitude towards each other.
Conversation on Consent-
The conversation about consent. (Source: HAWC)
Although feminists have done a great job exposing rape culture and how it makes women susceptible to sexual abuse, there is still a grey murky area that needs to be addressed. Much narrative in consent revolves around, “No means No” narrative but there is also a need to understand that how failing to say “No” doesnt mean a “Yes”. Feminists like Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman have argued that the narrative needs to be reframed as “Yes means yes”. This way, consent is not some murky gray area. When someone says “Yes,” it’s hopefully because they feel a real, enthusiastic desire to engage in sexual acts.
Hold Media Accountable-
Media promotes patriarchy. (Source: iPetitions.com)
We all know how much of the entertainment industry lives off of sexualization and objectification of women. Female celebrities are scrutinized for being too sexual or “not sexy” and Female politicians are judged based on their character, called “emotional” and “less informed”. We need to stop watching sexist media and call out their creators.
Activism vs. Nonparticipation-
Stand Up and Speak Up! (Source: stylist.co.uk)
There is a need for active participation in the feminist movement. Good that you don’t give gender-specific abuses, nut if you don’t question other people who do so, it’s not good enough. If you’re serious about making a change in the world, activism is the key.
You can find more such practices here.