For years I was of the belief that feminists were an elite group of so-called 'man-hating' women. They were the crazy people who looked down on men (despite doing everything they could to look like them), who shamed sexually liberal women and judged whether or not a woman (or God forbid a man) had the 'right' to be a feminist.
Although there are always exceptions, this stereotype could not be more wrong. If my experience is anything to go by, I think we're breaking down this assumption now. For me, feminism means equal rights, plain and simple. It means giving men and women of all sexualities the right to express themselves. It means breaking down gender roles and accepting gender identities. It means ending the shaming of women for being women. It means ending the shaming of human beings for being human beings. It challenges stereotypes and labels. It encourages a different outlook on the world to that which society has constructed for us. It involves educating children about sexuality and addressing society's taboo subjects. It insists on making the media a more sex positive, realistic and equal place. Above all, it means creating a more open, safe and accepting society. For everyone.
And I've probably not even scratched the surface.
I urge you: do not be ashamed to identify as a feminist. All it means is that you are a decent person. If you believe in equal rights, you believe in feminism. Do not be intimidated by it, or think it's 'cool' to reject it. Start challenging the world around you and don't except inequality when you see it. If you want to learn more watch something like Emma Watson's HeForShe speech at the United Nations.
If I've realised anything over the last year then it's this: Feminism is for everyone, for everyone.
Photos here, here, here and here.
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