Published on February 26, 2014 | by Ellen Thomas0
Tupac: The ultimate feministNot since the ’90s and the days of ‘girl power’ has feminism seen such a revival.
It seems that in the last year everyone and anyone is ready to step out and dramatically declare they are a feminist, including high profile men such as John Legend, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and even the famous lothario Russell Brand, renouncing his sexist ways for the ‘love of a good woman’.
It’s no surprise really, considering that some of the most influential people in the world are women; Beyoncé, Rihanna and Oprah to name a few.
This of course can only be a positive step forward for gender equality.
However, I can’t help but ask myself whether all of this is long overdue?
To me, equality of the sexes seems like a no-brainer, but unfortunately it’s a battle that every woman will have to face at some point, whether in their work environment or their day to day domestic life.
It seems incredible that in 2014, over one hundred years since the first suffragette martyr, we still have to ask the question: Why are women still not treated equally to their male counterparts? What is it about women that makes us any less capable? And the answer to that question? Absolutely nothing!
According to the annual Shriver report on the development of women, despite making progress in recent years, we still have a long way to go. 62 per cent of minimum wage jobs in the US are currently held by women, whilst one in three adult women live in poverty or on the brink of it.
These statistics seem especially shocking considering that they come from one of the most socially and economically developed countries in the world.
Beyoncé actually summed it up perfectly in her contribution to the report, stating: “We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality.”
The problem lies with the fact that for far too long, feminism has been demonised by societies that misguidedly believe it is about emasculating men and establishing women as the dominant sex.
This is not the case. Feminism is quite simply the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Nothing more, nothing less.
It is not about making men and women the same, as our differences should be celebrated. It is about ensuring that everyone is entitled to equal opportunities regardless of what gender they were born.
Beyoncé recently sampled in her song Flawless Nigerian author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
She used an extract from a speech that Adichie gave, entitled We should all be feminists, and having watched the full version, I felt inspired. Adichie charismatically gave an account of her experiences as a woman and how on more than one occasion she was told “feminists are women who are unhappy because they cannot find husbands.”
Although intended to be funny, it is an assumption that far too many times I have also been confronted with.
It seems incredible that in 2014, over a hundred years since the first suffragette martyr, we still have to ask the question: Why are women still not treated equally to their male counterparts?
The outline of her speech was that no one should be forced to comply with a gender role or a sociological ideal.
If a man wants to be feminine, let him. If a woman wants to be masculine, let her.
Everyone should be free to express themselves as they wish and it is a belief that I strongly agree with.
Instead of teaching young boys to be ‘men’ and young girls to be ‘ladies,’ we should, as a society, focus on teaching them how to be themselves.
Although Beyoncé can be somewhat misguided with what she says, featuring someone like Adichie in her song was a huge step forward.
Beyoncé is one of the most influential celebrities in the world and is recognised and admired by young girls and grown women everywhere.
As painful as it is to acknowledge, the voice and opinions of celebrities might be just what it we need to finally ensure worldwide equality.
For me, one of the greatest feminists and perhaps a controversial choice is the late great rapper Tupac Shakur.
I remember first hearing his song Keep Ya Head Up and hearing the lines “I wonder why we take from our women, why we rape our women, do we hate our women? I think it’s time to kill for our women, time to heal our women, be real to our women.”
In this one song, he simultaneously destroyed the stereotype of rappers being misogynistic and also proved to me that everyone can and should be a feminist.
While the increasing number of men showing support for their mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends is fantastic, it is sometimes unfortunate that our own gender causes us to take steps backwards.
Recently, several anti-feminist campaigns set up by young girls calling for women to “stop banging on about equal rights” have emerged, with one video in particular claiming that patriarchy “just makes sense.”
I highly doubt that if these girls fully understood the definition of feminism they would feel the same, or if they found themselves in a position where they were being judged on their gender they would still be anti-feminist.
After all, to echo the words of Nobel Prize winning author Dorris Lessing, “I have never ever in my life met a woman who is not a feminist,” and I sincerely hope that one day that this quote will stretch to include men too.