When I was 10 years old, I went to Cub Scouts every Monday night. We tied knots and earned badges and the like, but we also went on our fair share of adventures. As one of the few girls in the troop, nobody ever tried to stop me from accomplishing my goals. I could hike just as far as any of the boys, climb just as high and run just as fast. We shared kitchen duties on camps equally and I was never treated as less capable. I am lucky that in my formative years, I was taught that my gender would not at all impact the heights that I could reach in life.
Sadly, as I grew up, I realised that sexism existed. The real world is not like the camping tents and mud puddles of Cub Scouts. And so feminism became extremely important to me—not just for my own sake, but for the millions of women around the world who are given less than the equality they deserve.
Women are awesome. Feminism is awesome. Here are 20 reasons why I identify as a feminist, and you should too.
All the years that my mother, like so many others, taught me not to walk home alone, not to be out when it was dark and never to make eye contact with men in the city. She told me to approach a woman (and only a woman) in a public place if I felt unsafe.
Because my primary school teachers encouraged the girls to learn basic self defence: how to kick someone in the groin, scratch at their eyes, break their hold and scream—while the mothers and teachers of young boys forgot to teach them respect. They forgot to teach them the meaning of consent, forgot to teach them not to rape while I was being programmed how not to be raped.
Because of the man who looked at my all female intern group at a newspaper placement, and turned up his nose as “they’d never had an all girl group before”. “We usually opt for balance” he said, as he led us around an editorial office of 75% male journalists.
Because I am sick to death of being cat-called by men twice my age in anything from a beat-up sedan to a monstrous cement truck—no matter what I’m wearing. I am a feminist because of the derogatory terms these men yell out of their car windows when I ignore them or flip them off, because street harassment is NEVER a compliment.
In Saudi Arabia, women still cannot vote or drive.
Because more than 125 million girls and women today living in the Middle East and Africa will have suffered genital mutilation as part of a marriage preparation ceremony.
One in every three women will be sexually assaulted at some point in her lifetime, most likely by someone that she knows.
Because the only way to avoid male attention is to conclude with “I have a boyfriend”—because some men (#notallmen) respect a man that they have never met, more than they respect the wishes of a woman standing right in front of them.
Because the impossible standards of beauty that are placed on young women—from hair commercials, make-up commercials, and even tampon advertisements.
Because of thigh gaps, photo shop and the expectation of being a size 2.
Because only one woman in Tony Abbott’s cabinet of 20 is a female. Because the representation of women in the Ministry sits at just 14%. Because the glass ceiling clearly still exists.
Because statistics from a study conducted in 2010 show that just 12% of all board directors and 10.7% of executive managers were female. In 2012, we learned that women held only 3.5% of CEO positions in Australian business’.
I am a feminist because in April of 2014, 276 Nigerian school girls were kidnapped by an Islamist terrorist group, simply for receiving an education.
I am a feminist because many girls in developing countries are unlikely to receive a secondary school education and even less likely to attend university.
I am a feminist because the worst insult a man can get is being called a “pussy” or a “girl”. Because it’s not fair that men should have to suppress their emotions and sensitivities in fear of being called “weak”.
Because gender quotas exist. And they shouldn’t be necessary.
I am a feminist because there is still a pay gap between men and women. Because women may receive 17.5% less than their male counterparts for completing the exact same job.
I am a feminist because many male politicians believe that they have a right to make decisions about the female body. Because every second week, a new legislative movement is introduced to debate the topic of abortion—often with little regard to women’s rights.
I am a feminist because every time I dare to talk about women’s rights and gender equality on the internet, people believe that “feminism” is synonymous for “crazy”. I am a feminist because these kind of stereotypes suck.
I am a feminist because I believe in an equal society. If you also believe in equality, you can be a feminist too!
Sammi is a 17 year old student from Melbourne and an aspiring journalist. She is passionate about feminism, youth issues and politics– and will always try to find a way to combine all three. Sammi contributes regularly to Birdee Magazine, Truth4Youth and various other corners of the internet. You can follow her daily ramblings on twitter: @sammiiitaylor.