Feminism, the other F word by Daniel Gal, Israel

Daniel Gal, IsraelTwo days before I started my first year at University, my older sister invited me for a coffee and a talk. She  has been my mentor since childhood; for every milestone or big step I took in life, she was the first person I would turn to.
We were sitting and chatting about the near future when I told her I was nervous about feeling lost and  worried I wouldn’t find people who will make me laugh, inspire me and support my dreams when I  move away from home. My sister reassured me with great confidence that university is a platform for every single person to find friends they connect with sharingthe same interests and motives.
For her, feminism was something she was exposed to at university and contributed greatly to her personality, as well as the people she connected with
I remember thinking to myself, “FEMINISM???” Immediately I imagined women fighters, sarcastic and aggressive, the opposite of the famine(feminine?)  figure I was raised upon. No one cares about feminism any more I thought to myself, I felt as if feminism is a movement that is no longer relevant to my reality. That these days the sky is the limit, that I’m proud to be a strong independent Human Being and gender inequality has nothing to do with it. My sister was patient and told me that even if I don’t feel the problem, that doesn’t mean I’m not effected by gender inequality in decisions I make, and even more importantly, she told me I have a greater responsibility for women all around the world, not just in my closest sphere.
In school, I came to realize that today we are facing gender inequality for women that  directly impacts men as well. Nancy R. Smith wrote a poem exactly on this matter: “…for every girl who is tired of being called over-sensitive, there is a boy who fears to be gentle, to weep. For every boy for whom competition is the only way to prove his masculinity, there is a girl who is called unfeminine when she competes. For every girl who takes a step toward her liberation, there is a boy who finds the way to freedom a little easier…”.
Many people don’t feel the inequality on a daily basis and that contributes to the preservation of  the status quo. Perhaps this is because the gender differences have been shaping us and the way we see the world since the day we were born. These differences in treatment have become normalized in the same way as culture, unnoticed and accepted as normal, therefore we do not recognize them in our daily behaviors and mentalities.
We are being raised with different approaches as babies. Girls are praised for being pretty and cute, while boys are often awarded for being strong and manly. They wear gender based colors, girls play with dolls and make up while boys play with cars, tools and sports. By the age of 3 they will act according to the expectations and feedback they got from their surroundings. The educational system of feedback treats them differently. For example, even if the same is expected from both, statistically women give up faster than men. Eventually, more prestigious institutions like medical and engineering schools will become male dominated while females enter the professions that are often considered easier, less valuable and less prestigious.
Gender gaps are usually not considered as important as other issues (political, religious, cultural). I guess in a way that changing our education system and the public awareness of gender inequality would cost too much money or may not serve as many interests as other issues. Gender inequality connects directly with politics, economic development, human rights and  yet it is still something we are all afraid to talk about, or simply too apathetic about. Maybe if women could imagine how different the world could be if they were to rise above, more compassionate, peaceful, sustainable and connected, then they would be motivated to actually do something about it. And perhaps if men could see that everyone would reap the benefits of a more empowered population, not just the females, then they would be inspired to do something about it also.
But instead, I feel as a women that every time the word feminism rises, most  people, men and women, will roll their eyes and change the subject. This is the reason I titled this blogpost “Feminism, the other F word” This is also the reason I believe we should talk more about Feminism, because of the hesitation people have towards talking about it. A lot of women have The Cinderella complex (women’s fear of independence – an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others). It might be some women’s deepest fear. It contributes to the status quo of gender inequalities and no one talks about it. I propose that one step towards developing a stronger and more equal society would be to change the way we educate women and men by giving the same feedback, appreciation and encouragement of unique talents rather than creating the differences we see today by encouraging the gender-biased character traits..

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One thought on “Feminism, the other F word by Daniel Gal, Israel

  1. For every girl that does 2 years in the military and gets good treatment because she’s a girl, there’s a boy who does 3 years and gets shitty treatment because he’s not a pretty girl.

    People know gender inequality exists but many don’t like to talk about it. It feels like they might be criticizing really cool people, like that skinny dude all the girls want to sleep with or the funny guy jokes about a girls’ breasts and cares little how she feels. The problem with talking about gender inequality is that you’ll have to admit you benefit from it in some way.

    I don’t have to fear sexual harassment or slut-shaming or be judged harshly based on my looks. I will also serve a lot more time in the military and will be more lonely, because guys approach girls more than girls approach guys.

    We’re not critical of our society enough.

    Like

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