Feminism and being a woman is probably a constant in my mind. I, like many other women around me, think about my future, think about my future after graduation coming into a recession as a woman in an industry pre-dominantly led by men and I am having trouble coming to terms with the misogyny of the system I am about to enter in. A system I have been taught to so desperately seek.
Yes, the feminist movement has done a lot about women in the last century, but now it is more than just a movement, now our generation is here to tackle the most difficult task of it – the misogyny that is so deeply routed into our contemporary communities that even its targets (women) are so blinded by it that we have internalised it.
We live in a society where sexual assault, eating disorders, internalised misogyny, are so normalised many of us struggle or even refuse to see it. This is the most detrimental slippery slope our generation can fall victim to. I have realised how even before coming to university my voice was silenced – my opinions were undermined, looked down upon and disregarded by my peers, because they presented a mirror to them, reflecting a reality that they did not want to see, and I think we should talk about this.
Taking this beyond the generalised spectrum of how we perceive each other on a daily basis, the way women are still disadvantaged, and held back has been evident through the COVID-19 crisis. Statistics have shown that women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic than men have. More women than men have had to leave the job market to undertake unpaid domestic work following the recent pandemic. According to UN Women, the new crisis is having a harder economic toll on women all over the world, while according to The Guardian, this is resulting in a major set back to the feminist movement. Statistics also show that this is the case, predominantly and disproportionately more when it comes to women of colour. The lack of intersectional feminism here has also failed to shed light into this very, very real problem that women of colour have faced more so that white women during this pandemic.
I catch myself thinking of how difficult it is to remain an ambitious woman and wanting a family – society has made us think that the two are mutually exclusive: you cannot have one if you have the other. And on top of that women are spoon-fed the idea that we will need a man to achieve either of the above: we cannot rise on our own. This is constantly being thrown at us – through movies, books, chic-flics, songs, the list goes on. So, it becomes very difficult to break free from this cycle of thinking. And, this is why the expectation of a woman leaving her job in the midst of the pandemic – when she probably needs it the most – is still so deeply-rooted in our minds. We are expected to be able to drop everything because we are the “caretaker.” This isn’t always involuntary, but it is not absolutely voluntary either as a result of this type of social pressure. So, I think… I think when I am looking at a recruitment advertisement claiming that they have made tremendous progress in supporting women, yet, when I look deeper, I only see (white) old men in charge. I think of the times my ideas have been conveniently ignored but the same ideas were “brilliant” when they came out of the mouth of someone with different anatomy.
So, feminism is a constant in my mind. I think about the impact of current events on me as a woman. I try to think of how and if this is going to change and what I can do to help. I try to educate myself every day, I try to educate those around me every day and I try to be there and so should you, dear reader. This is not just a “me problem.” Internalised (and, clearly, externalised) oppression is everybody’s problem.