Writing by Zeenath Akande // Photograph by Claudia Morales
Feminism (noun): the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
Many people believe if a woman is a feminist she thinks women are superior to men, but this is wrong. Feminism is a movement for gender equality in the modern day, not for yesterday’s past but for tomorrow’s future. History plainly shows that women have been oppressed by individuals of the male gender and have been taught that they are worthless aside from child-bearing, keeping house and taking care of the family. But now thanks to idols such as Emmeline Pankhurst, Sojourner Truth, Hillary Clinton and many more greats, women and girls of all ages are given the chance to cut the strings that control us.
“If men in power were not going to give women the right to vote, Susan B. Anthony and her followers were going to take it.” -An Act of Courage
We as women must choose if we want to be more, if we want to be great, if we want our independence to be our happiness.
Harriet Tubman said, “I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more, if only they knew they were slaves.” Though many women have fought for their right to vote, for gender equality, and for independence, some (but fortunately not all) still do not understand WHY all these women did what they did, WHY it matters if we can vote or not, WHY we don’t have to give in to society’s rules of marriage and children, because some do not feel that freedom.
Malala Yousafzai stood against what she had been told would be the end of her and defied the Taliban, and still fights for the right of education for girls. She was shot in the head, but survived to continue being the mouthpiece for many girls who have been silenced all around the world in the fight for our right to an education. Malala did not do this to become the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize– she did it to speak on her basic right as a young woman to be able to go to school without feeling threatened.
I, Zeenath Akande, go to a girl’s school, where it is to believed a sense of sisterhood should abound. This sense of sisterhood is present, but unfortunately some of it is lost because of the search for perfection, which does not exists. The need to feel sorry for my existence lies heavy on my shoulders.
If I do not wear my hair right, have the latest shoes, am not “pretty” enough, society has taught me to feel I should just cease to exist, and I am not alone in this feeling. Many girls feel this way due not only to the actions of the males but fellow females as well, when we should instead be supporting each other, pushing ourselves to higher mountains, not six feet under.
I believe if I love myself enough, I will not need to depend on my peers liking me or a boy loving me; I will be able to look in the mirror to know my beauty and my loneliness is not my weakness.
“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it” – Salvador Ali
When young girls step on to the stage, many are afraid to speak, let alone speak the truth. This is why positive teenage influences like Rowan Blanchard and Amandla Stenberg are so important to the next generation. Simply being assured that it’s okay to not be the same as the person to your left or right can really help someone focus not on what you take from the world but what you give it. So if I could give girls of the next generation some advice it’s this: Do your best to leave the world better than you found it.[share]