The future is bright for those in the feminist movement but our work is never done. With that in mind, I feel it is a good time to put down my thoughts on the future of feminism and the next generation (are we going to call them 4th wavers?) of women and men that will keep the movement strong. One of those women will be my niece. She is yet to be born, but I vow to be a good influence on her sense of self worth and equality.
Here are some of the things I hope for her, and all women growing up in the coming years, decades, and centuries. This is as close as I will ever get to words of wisdom, so I hope they are taken in the spirit they were intended. Keep them in context and understand that I say the following out of love and commitment to the movement and all those that will carry on the legacy.
Always know who you are and don’t let others bring you down
This is a tall order as society places many restrictions on a woman’s sense of worth. We have to fight every day to feel good about ourselves, beginning with the way we look when we leave the house, to the things we do once we are out there in the world. Men do not encounter the level of scrutiny that women do when it comes to appearance and choice of task (whether it be staying home with children or taking the business world by storm.) At the end of it all, we must know ourselves and our own personal strengths and limitations. These must be learned through our autonomy as humans and never fostered by negativity from outside. Be you. Let the negativity roll off your back and march ever forward. The only opinion that matters is your own.
The choice is yours
Your body is your own and nobody can make choices for you. You must choose for yourself. Do not misconstrue this to mean that you are alone in the world for you are not. There is always someone there for you no matter the situation. In my life, I will always be the open minded and honest hearted person who will support my niece (and every other woman in my circle of family and friends) NO MATTER WHAT their choices are.
You don’t have to smile if you don’t want to
On too many occasions in life, I have been told to smile. This is my face and I don’t have to be happy to make you feel okay about yourself. This is actually a pretty common theme. If women do not make themselves into something that can be well presented to the world, they are looked down upon. When women don’t wear makeup or don’t have perfectly coifed hair, when they don’t make themselves appear to be happy even when they are not, they are thought to be assaulting others with their lack of “upkeep”. This, I must say, is bullshit. We should be able to look and feel any way we want without criticism or complaint. This is who we are and we will continue to live strong, healthy lives whether we smile or not.
Being smart is cool
There will be times in your life when you are made to feel too smart. As if women who are smart somehow make men feel inferiour. Well, I have two things to say to that; first it is nonsense and second, even if it is true, so what? Men have made women feel inferiour for eons for a million little things, so maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. If a smart woman makes you feel inferiour, maybe you need to assess yourself rather than turning it back on her. Smart is awesome and there is no reason to dumb yourself down for anyone, especially not a man.
You don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy
This does not mean that you should be alone. Having a significant other is a wonderful experience, but not for everyone. The point of this is that you should never need another person in your life to know that you are okay. You can take care of yourself and you should never feel like that is impossible. Of course we all need help sometimes, but that doesn’t make us weak or needy, it makes us human. So, whomever you choose to spend your days and nights with is your choice, but never feel that you have to have someone in your life to feel worthy. Self worth comes from inside, not from the musings or gaze of another.
You are worthy
No matter your sex, gender representation, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or level of ability, you are special and worthy. Never let the world make you believe you are not. Society is a tough place for all of us to navigate, but knowing deep down that you are who you were meant to be can go a long way to keeping you healthy and happy. Knowing, also, that you have people that believe in you and know you are who you were meant to be is invaluable. Keep a network of like minded and supportive people around you and you shall never fail.
I could go on all day, but I think you get the gist. Women are just as strong as men and can do anything they set their minds to. As feminists, we need to stick together, stay united in the movement, and push forward toward full equality. Someday, it will be a reality, and in the meantime, keeping the positivity flowing around each and every woman is the only way to find true self worth. We must support one another and keep up the fight.
Peace and Love,
Chantale (aka auntie chanti/hippiegrrl)