Over the past week, UNAC-Vancouver has been highlighting writing by our new website writers – Emma and Sierra. Today, we would like to bring you an article from a young writer who earned an “Honourable Mention” in our search for new website writers. What follows is an introduction and her post on feminism.
My name is Sayeh Yousefi, I am 16 years old, am a rising senior at R.E. Mountain Secondary. I can best describe myself as being an avid writer and passionate human rights advocate. Throughout my life, I’ve had the privilege of living in many different countries, including Iran, the UAE, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Exposure to such diversity at a young age has helped shape my perspective, and has allowed me to be more open-minded and considerate of all different cultures and viewpoints. Throughout my life, I have witnessed injustices, whether it be on the news or in person, that have fuelled my passion to help improve conditions for victims of human rights violations. The issues that interest me most within the broad range of human rights issues are those of women’s rights and child abuse. I especially believe in the importance of educating youth about issues of human rights and social justice, particularly because it appears that our future generation is losing touch of the real issues in the world. I think that of the most affective ways to educate others and raise awareness is writing. My love for writing started at a young age. Ever since I was a young child, I was captivated by the power of words and writing. I found it incredible how a series of words and letters could be composed to form works of art and inspiration. To this day I believe that writing is more powerful than any weapons or wars.
Feminism in the Modern World
We seem to be becoming more open-minded towards each other, with same-sex marriages being legalized, and newfound ways of ridding racism, yet other forms of discrimination are spreading the world. The term “feminism” has gained countless negative connotations, even though the sole purpose of the term in itself is to create a more equal and balanced world. A relatively new campaign launched by the UN in an attempt to engage men in gender inequality issues, HeForShe, and to encourage them to take action to fight for gender rights.
The significance of the HeforShe campaign is not just in the sense that it is raising awareness for gender inequality, but that it is directly involving males in gender issues. Gender inequality affects men just as much as women. Societal ideals of a typical male being athletic, aggressive, and brave have led to many men not being able to express themselves freely and live the lives they desire. Countless numbers of men remain bottled up; afraid to share their emotions for fear that they may not appear ‘manly’ enough. Feminism isn’t solely the fight for women’s rights; it’s the fight for gender equality for all sexes. Feminists fight to ensure that men feel comfortable expressing their feelings and pursuing careers they are passionate about, rather than careers they feel they are entitled to due to their gender, whilst at the same time ensuring that women are not at a disadvantage in the workforce due to the possibility that they may someday have children and start a family. Not all feminists are man hating, irrational activists, but like all groups, feminism has its radicals, and sadly those radicals have garnered more negative attention than the many positive feminists throughout the world.
Many anti-feminists argue that women in the Western world are privileged and have more advanced rights than anywhere else in the world. Accomplishments with regards to women’s rights over the past few decades are impressive, but we are still a ways away from being an entirely gender equal society. All too often I have heard girls refuse to partake in sports for fear of gaining too much muscle and altering their physical appearance in a way that contradicts society’s ideal body image for women. Personally, I have been called bossy and been told not to attempt to lead a group of boys, because “they wont listen to me if I talk that way” or at the very least, let a boy take over so that he can fulfill the leadership roles already prescribed to his gender. It saddens me that teenagers nowadays, having lived in a country where women’s rights are available and encouraged, continue to sublime to sexist notions and ideologies.
There remain to be many nations in which women are in far worse situations; having limited options in pursuing their education, and not being able to compete with men in many fields. Violence against women is at an all time high, and sadly, very little is being done in many nations to battle such issues. These facts alone should serve as proof that feminism is a vital aspect of achieving gender equality, but what remains to be my strongest motivation as a feminist is my belief that all genders are equal and should have equal rights and opportunities. This is what unites all supporters of the feminist movement: the belief that all genders are entitled to the same rights and freedoms, and campaigns such as HeForShe work to advocate for these ideals.