Feminism in 2018: What is there to do?

It’s a funny time to be a woman.

We live in a society that tells us we’ve never had it better, whilst it ignores our cry for change.

One that tells us we have our equal standing in the workplace and pays us less.

One that points to the single woman at a chair meeting and tells us how represented we are around the 14 men drowning her out.

One that tells us our bodies are our own whilst men decide what we can do with them.

One that shuts our trans sister out of her bathroom in the name of ‘protecting us’ from a threat that isn’t there.

And yet, it points to the suffrage of the past and tells us, “They did the work! You got your rights!”

 

How do we fight for change in an environment that acts like we’ve already made it?

 

I was 14 years old when I decided I wanted to be a medical doctor.

I was high achieving, top of my classes, and passionate about doing good in the world.

A few days after I decided, I broke the news to an aunt of mine; married to a psychiatrist, I thought she’d be someone I could turn to for some insight into what lay ahead. Naively happy about my decision, and eager to share it.

She listened to me, intently. She let me reason out what I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it – developing a 20-year plan in my 14-year mind.

She heard all of this quietly, and when I was done, she asked me the question: “but don’t you think it’s too much hard work?”

Of course, it’ll be hard work! But it’ll be so worth it in the end.

“But what’s the point in wasting all that time and money when you’ll only be housewife in the end anyway?”

 

I’d pinpoint that as the first time I remember my gender being sold to me like it’s a crutch.

 

Misogyny carries a certain power, when it comes from a female mouth.

She really, genuinely believed that my education was a waste of resources. Because of course, it’s universally accepted that I’ll give up any suggestion of a career to fulfil my womanly duties in the kitchen, right?

And there, I see the work still to be done.

How can our society claim to be equal while it perpetuates the normalisation of those attitudes?

So normalised, in fact, that the very victims of this system are its advocates.

Where women believe it’s normal to drop their passions, their aspirations, their futures because they need to take up the role that’s handed to them.

 

I was 21 years old when I walked through the doors of the medical school as a student.

 

That aunt rarely talks to me now.

When she does, it’s to tell me she thinks this is all useless.

I think of her whenever I speak up about feminism, whenever I feel the passion I have for activism.

I think of her because my heart hurts for her.

The cage she’s been in for so long that she sees as a mansion.

I hope she gets out of it one day.

I hope that she, and anyone who thinks like her, realises that they represent the work that’s still to be done in a society that thinks we’ve already made it.

It’s a funny time to be a woman.

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