Girls just wanna have rights

Shiva Mirzahaidar, Voice Editor

People across the world have a complicated relationship with the word “feminist.” Some ardently claim the title, others feel alienated by the movement, and to many, it is a foreign concept.

My initial grasp on feminism was born out of frustration. I continuously asked myself why, in a world where many men seemed to mockingly hold their power above my head, women were using their bodies in order to gain a fraction of that power.

I also felt dehumanized by society. It seemed like every news channel revolved around a female politician’s pant size rather than her stance on an issue. It never felt so horrifying and confusing to be a girl.

I found myself constantly criticizing men and women and using feministic ideals to justify whether someone was right or wrong. I looked down on women who were “just” stay at home moms and those who married young.

I thought every woman should be fighting and working, and to be a proper feminist meant you had to hold signs and scream at the top of your lungs, and certainly never let a boy make, or see, you cry.

All I could think about were the billions of women across the world struggling under oppression to this image of the ideal. Yet, there I was, being the oppressor.

Soon enough, I felt exhausted from constantly trying to keep up with this ideology that I had built upon anger and bitterness. I thought I had to live up to the title of being a feminist and eventually, I felt lost in a sea of Riot Grrrls and radical statements.

I had written so many rules around unstable ideals and nothing seemed right.

After separating myself from the extremist groups and blogs that made the entire movement seem like a fashion trend for teenaged angst, I gained a clearer sense of feminism, and with that, freedom.

Feminism is not just about freeing women from oppressive roles, but also freeing men from the social restrictions that tell them to act a certain way and like a certain thing.

What I have come to realize is that we cannot always see others’ struggles from the outside. Women from all walks of life may be fighting for equality, whether they run for congress or wear short skirts and work at a tanning salon.

At the heart of feminism lies something that anyone and everyone, regardless of race, religion and orientation, can latch onto: hope for equality.