During primary school the playground was full of the chorused torment ‘you run likeagirl’ or ‘you throw likeagirl’ as boys mocked each other’s physicality which, to their young minds, determined masculinity. Likeagirl? One leg in front of the other at speed: that is running. Do girls run using different limbs or something? Girls can run and throw wonderfully; one only has to watch the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill and Valerie Adams powering through their athletic events with the same competency and ease as Ashton Eaton and David Storl. Where then did those young boys find the grounds for a negative comparison? The answer lies in the hegemonic belief of our society: men are powerful and women are feeble. This astonishingly surviving stereotype is what Always’ current ‘LikeAGirl’ campaign wants to eradicate from the world; this is a feminist campaign.

Feminist has become a dirty word. Why? Too many people are unaware of what it actually means to be a feminist. Feminists are not man-haters. Thousands of men are feminists; they just haven’t been made aware that they are. The Oxford dictionary reminds us that feminism is ‘advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’. Feminism is essentially the belief in gender equality, and as history dictates that women are secondary to men, the need for this advocacy of specifically women’s rights is necessary.

The F-word word must be one of the most misused in the English language, as people believe feminism to be an aggressive form of militancy consisting of women fighting against men to achieve power. This is no fault of the people; this is caused by our media exaggerating, embellishing and enhancing the existence of a minority of the truly extreme, militant feminists, and therefore misconstruing our perceptions of important issues like this.

The consequences of this practise are clear in national surveys, such as the Economist and YouGov poll, which in 2013 revealed that 72 per cent of the respondents did not consider themselves feminists. If the question was rephrased into ‘do you believe all girls across the world should receive education’ or ‘should women and men have equal pay’ or ‘do you agree with female genital mutilation (FGM)’, one can almost certainly assume that this shocking statistic would be distinctly different.

These basic concepts, astoundingly still only concepts and not realities, are what Always are fighting for; to bring all females up to an equal level with men. Their own shocking statistic fuelling the campaign is that 72 per cent of girls feel limited by society, in terms of career, life skills and the general social arena. If that 72 per cent of non-feminists met this 72 per cent of socially-restricted young girls and were exposed to the true nature of feminism and what it can do, I believe their eyes would be opened much wider and their minds broadened drastically.

The Like A Girl campaign is undoubtedly a definite necessity in countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Nepal where women are discriminated against on a similar level as that of the eighteenth century. They are forbidden from driving (the issue of ‘women are inadequate drivers’), exposed to domestic abuse with no alternative shelter available to them, and even refused to be given legal justice through prosecution on having been sexually assaulted by a man. Controversy may now set in, but I believe Always should certainly fight this shameful inequality with all its strength and power in such countries and continue to challenge the issue. However, in the UK and the USA as well as other first world countries, we need a different philosophy.

In terms of gender rights Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Nepal are largely excluding women and this needs to be dealt with in the only way possible: raising the strength of these admirable women and giving them the best possible education and lifestyle without the threat of discrimination. However we, as more developed nations, need to tackle the issue at its very core which persists at the very root of our society.

Gender inequality stems from the inherent need for dominance, and we need to eliminate this desire for power from the centre of our beliefs. Women are unquestionably oppressed in the UK as shown by the fact that there has been an Equal Pay Act in force since 1975, yet women still earn an average of 19.8 per cent less than men, and 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. This is wrong, but equally wrong is the not dissimilar statistic that 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse also. The subjective nature of these facts due to the possibility of either heterosexual or homosexual relationships is irrelevant; men are also subject to this aggressive control and inequality and this cannot be ignored. I will never argue that this is on an equal level with the subjugation of women, but women tyrannizing men is still an issue, and if it is an issue why is it not being dealt with properly?

I am a feminist, so I firmly believe women should be equal to men. I therefore also believe that men should be equal to women. This is not just in terms of civil rights; it is in the social sense of security and safety in one’s own life. We must move away from the dated ideology that we need a dominant figure either in society or in a relationship. Hierarchy is inevitable and always will be, but let this hierarchy be determined by people, not genders, and stop women and men begin controlled by the opposite sex because one of them feels the need to be in charge.

The Like A Girl campaign aims to confront the issue of inequality when it has reached a level that cannot be reversed in developing countries. But we can remove this power struggle from our culture now and create true gender harmony to the point where the issue of equality will never need to be raised again in relation to gender, since the latter will play no part. Feminism fights for equality, we need to eradicate its oppressor.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/news/a28510/misconceptions-about-feminism/

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/

http://always.com/en-us/about-us/our-epic-battle-like-a-girl

http://www.rainbo.org/discrimination-of-women-throughout-the-world/

http://www.unison.org.uk/get-help/discrimination/gender-discrimination/overview/

http://www.lwa.org.uk/understanding-abuse/statistics.htm