I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my feelings about feminism and how they relate to my wellness journey, so that I could share with you why being a proud feminist is so important to me.
Firstly – what is feminism?
Feminism is, simply, the belief that women deserve the same rights as men. It’s not about burning your bra, hating men, or being “anti-family”, but rather about standing up for the respect and rights of women in an equal way to men.
Because of a small group of very extremist feminists, the word ‘feminism’ is not something that many of us feel they want to associate themselves with, despite upholding feminist beliefs. I’ve even had discussions with some of the men in my life who may have rolled their eyes when I’ve said that I am a feminist or who didn’t even realise that feminism was a thing, but because I only associate myself with the dudest of dudes, these conversations have only brought about more understanding of the world on their part, and sometimes the realisations that they themselves are feminists – yes, you can be a feminist without being a woman, you may also call this “Being A Decent Human Being”.
But to me, being a feminist has never been something I was ashamed of, even without the label ‘feminist’ I always knew I felt strongly about women’s rights. I remember being teased in High School for specifically saying the word “passionate” when it came to the horrific practices of female genital mutilation and child prostitution I had been learning about at the time – apparently the word “passionate” was funny… yeah, I still don’t get it – and I remember standing up to said idiot saying “What’s wrong with the word passionate? I am passionate. How can you not be passionate with all these awful things in the world?” (a rare moment of confidence for a 15 year old me). As I grew older, I was properly introduced to the term ‘feminist’ and realising that I was one was all the more empowering for me.
But what does this have to do with wellness? Everything, my darlings, absolutely everything!
Feminism is a great thing for wellness, because your pursuit of wellness becomes less about the way you look, and “proving people wrong”, and more about proving to yourself what you are capable of and making the right choices for the benefit of your own health. Of course, there will always be a component of vanity within it all, but as long as you are not judging yourself (or others) on the way you look, I believe that is an important distinction. I am a realist after all, and I can’t pretend I don’t feel great if I think I look great.
For the most part, I believe it has absolutely everything to do with your self esteem. One of the hardest things about being a female in the modern world is dealing with the judgement of others. Even before you go out into the world, your brain is analysing you and telling you all of the ways that you will be judged, because the reality is, at one point or another you have unfairly judged another woman about the way she looks/acts/walks/speaks because it made you feel better about yourself. Of course, I have done this. Once upon a time I lived in a small town, I had shitty self esteem and I was in an unhealthy circle of friends where we all judged each other and those around us. All of these negative words about other people only bring more negativity (even if we only say them in our heads) so I believe that by becoming the sort of person who stops themselves (and others) from being judgemental, you end up realising all the good in not only yourself, but those around you. The reality is, now that I have been around some of the most inspirational women I know, I’ve engaged in stimulating conversations, read empowering feminist articles, watched Ted Talks, gotten to know myself and just grown as a human being, I have realised the detriment of these judgemental thoughts and have seen myself try to discourage these words in myself and those around me and it’s helped me to realise that I’m a total babe, and so is everyone else.
In addition, one of the best things I have done lately is to skinny dip with a good friend. I am now so at ease about being naked and bearing my belly or even my boobs, that it’s helped me love myself even more – so I urge you to try it. Your body is beautiful, and I hope that the small part of you that knows this is growing every day.
I have such an appreciation for the beauty of the women around me and love to go out of my way to tell them how totally baben they are, inside and out. Especially now that I am single, I have such a deep appreciation for my female relationships. There is something about a friendship between two women that cannot be matched by a friendship or relationship between a man and a woman. Shared experience, the ability to understand each others feelings and the inspiration you get from being around an incredible woman who has experienced different and similar things to you, is something that shapes who you are and gives you more understanding about who you are and who you want to be. This has taken time to set in for me, because for a very long time, my closest friends were men. But being self-aware is always important for your wellness journey, as it gives you strength, but if you don’t have that strength, your female friends are the best ones at giving it to you and helping you find more of your own.
Recently I have become very open about talking about sex, and how much I enjoy it. Because I don’t feel shame in having sex and enjoying sex. It bothers me when people judge me or other women about this, but on the whole, I mostly feel empowered and confident because the reality is that admitting these things just means that I am human, and quite frankly, my opinion is the only one that matters when it comes to my life (including my sex life). With this sexual empowerment comes confidence and better self-esteem, because why should we feel ashamed about enjoying sex, being naked, having breasts, or enjoying our sexuality? There is a lot of pot-kettle-black behaviour around sex, and it is way too acceptable in society to use the word ‘slut’ to make a woman feel ashamed about her sexual behaviour, while it’s rare for a man to be under the same scrutiny, while the term “man-whore” is met with grunts and high-fives as men find it empowering (I’ve literally seen men do this over the top of a dinner table covered in food). Why can’t more women be empowered by their sexuality? As long as they feel safe and are enjoying themselves, what does it matter? Being confident and accepting of your own sexuality is crucial to your wellness journey as it helps you know yourself better, gives you confidence and helps you to enjoy your life (and sex itself) more.
When you have the confidence to feel passion about the topic of feminism, you are often met with groans and eye-rolls (sorry guys, but from my experience, mostly from men), but that shouldn’t be a reason to pull back. Being a woman, despite some opinions I’ve heard, is freaking fabulous! When a group of women is at ease, we have the most heart-felt, hilarious and judgement-free conversations that provide some of the most profound insight you can imagine. So what, we have our period, which can suck at times, but at least we have an efficient way to know that our body is doing what we need it to do. Plus, as far as I’m concerned, boobs are just awesome. So, be empowered by your femininity, however it may appear (it is different for everyone), stand up for the rights and respect of yourself and every other woman in the world by politely pointing out someone else’s judgement, or stopping your own judgemental thoughts, let your own sexuality empower you, and remember that being a woman is just fantastic, because it really really is!