Warning: A “controversial” female empowerment message is coming. Beware!
Ever since I was a little girl, I can remember being told I was outspoken or that I had a “strong” personality. Things like questioning gender-based roles (like why I had to help set the dinner table when my brother got to sit and watch TV) or speaking up about why I did not think a woman necessarily had to change her last name in marriage got me long stares and lots of questions.
I have always lived by the notion that men and women are equal and deserve to be treated as so. I was a feminist since birth without even knowing it.
I remember once when someone from my church in Tulsa told me she admired me for speaking my mind. Little did she know, I struggled with it. I got annoyed at being labeled “bossy” or “fiesty.” Yet, I did not know any other way of existing. To speak my mind, to be intelligent and outspoken, to use my voice for other women and girls who cannot, it was as natural to me as breathing.
Last week, a new song called “Fall in Line” by Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato dropped. I have had it on replay ever since. The two ladies with the larger-than-life voices debuted the song last night at the 2018 Billboard Awards. It was marvelous, empowering, and most importantly, timely.
As the twenty-first century wave of the feminist movement rages on, the increasing push for equal pay and the ongoing exposure of sexual harassment in the workplace comes with the #MeToo movement, this song could not have come out at a better time.
I recently worked as a teacher assistant in Italy, and I did a lesson on Women’s History Month and today’s gender equality movement. I was surprised by my students’ reactions, some of whom did not feel gender bias affected Italy or others who validated the pay gap for women. Despite equal education and experience, women fall behind in annual wages worldwide.
I think my biggest question for ant-feminists is why? Why does the word feminism make you uncomfortable? Why has the word “feminism” become an uncomfortable word as Emma Watson said in her U.N. address? Why has fighting for women’s rights become associated with man-hating (despite real-life feminists telling you that is not what they stand for)? Why are women not as valued in the workplace for their efforts? How can women win the battle for equality without men working beside us as allies?
I am a feminist, and I do not hate men, but I should not have to explain that.
I am tired of watching the list of women affected by rape and sexual assualt grow. I believe that men and women have differences, but those differences do not make men better than women or vice versa. I believe little girls and little boys should have equal access to education and should be equally valued outside the classroom. I believe a woman should be paid the same as her male counterpart in the office. I believe a woman can be feminine, gentle and elegant, while still being strong, intelligent and outspoken.
Check out the lyrics from “Fall in Line” and current statistics on why the gender equality movement is still relevant in 2018.
1-2-3, right 2-3. Shut your mouth. Stick your ass out for me.
40 percent of all athletes are female, yet women’s sports receive only 4 percent of all sport media coverage and female athletes are much more likely than male athletes to be portrayed in sexually provocative poses.- Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport
March, 1-2-3. Who told you you’re allowed to think?
Women make less than men in every field, in every nation (except Iceland as of 2018).- United Nations
It’s just the way it is.
130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school.- UNESCO
Baby, it’s never gonna change.
1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted. –New York Times
I am gonna pay for this.
200 million girls and women in 30 countries today have undergone genital mutilation.- World Health Organization
They’re gonna burn me at the stake.
97 percent of rapists never face jail time.- RAINN
Ladies, I hope you are just as empowered by this song as I am. I hope you know you are worth equal pay for that job you busted your ass to get. I hope you know that sexual harassment and rape culture are not normal, and you have a right to speak up. I hope you know that girls all around the world are still fighting for the chance to get an education (even just to the high school level).
I hope you know that the fight for gender equality is not over. I hope you are encouraged to shine in whatever your field of expertise is and use it to empower other women to do the same.
Because we were not made to fall in line.