What Feminism Means to Me

fem1Sara-Louise Tareen, 16 Sheffield, UK

Feminism. Until a year ago, feminism was just a word... a world that I knew nothing about. I was oblivious to who feminists were, to what feminists are. I used to stand for all the "women belong in the kitchen jokes" and just laughed along whenever a boy said it, not really thinking about what it meant. My mother was born in Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country. So, I've been brought up in the UK in an Asian family, with the mentality that men are superior to women.

It wasn't until my older sister asked if I was a feminist that I realised I could openly speak about the topic. I replied with a simple "no." Then she told me that I should be. However, I didn’t realize what I needed to do to "be a feminist." In September 2013, I began working in a chocolate shop where one of the girls who I worked with recommended a book called "How To Be A Woman" by Caitlin Moran. It wasn't until I finished reading that book that I realised "I. Am. A. Feminist.", and I'm not afraid to say it!

I shouldn't have to shave my hair if I don't want to. I shouldn't have to wear make-up if I don't want to. I shouldn't have to make myself unhappy to make someone else happy. I should be able to wear whatever I want. I should be free and able to do whatever makes me happy without being judged for doing it. Soon after, I asked my sister to ask me “Are you a feminist?” again, but this time I replied with a "HELL YEAH!"

Feminism to me is about women being whoever they want to be. If a woman wants to be a stay at home mum or a high class business executive, that's up to her. Many people have this weird perception that feminists "hate men" and that's a load of rubbish. We love people whatever their gender, whatever their sexual orientation. It's all cool.

For me, feminism isn't just something for women, it's something for all minority groups who don't have a voice. I need feminism because I don't want to be a woman who is forced to 'serve' her husband because he's 'better than I am.' I have self worth. I have self confidence.

Don't let the majority define who or what you are. We are all equal.

Your StoriesErin Bagwell