Why I became a feminist by Danielle Lauren

The term feminist conjures up a variety of images – at least it did for me a few years ago. I imagined hairy armpits and burning bras, owning the word cunt frequently and loathing men. It was bathed in anger – pro women and anti-everything else.

With aging I have become a greater observer of human behaviour and societal structures and my notion of feminism has evolved. I have proudly adopted the term feminist and I would like to share with you why.

So let’s get terminology out of the way. According to Wikipedia  (my modern dictionary)  Feminism as the following

 Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women that are equal to those of men.[1][2] This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. Feminists typically advocate or support the rights and equality of women.[3]

To me,  the concept of “equal to men” is why I’m fairly passionate about the subject.  I think it’s absolute bullshit that in 2016 women are still underrepresented in terms of leadership. pay, education and general rights because we lack a permanent penis between our legs.

How is it acceptable that I earn less money than my male counterparts because I have a vagina? That to me is ridiculous!

If I’m going to be earning around 20% less than a man – I want everything I buy to cost 20% less too! I believe secrecy around salary is one of the major reasons why women don’t get paid the same as men. Asking someone how much they earn is a taboo subject. The societal consequence means that we guess our value and I’m pretty sure women are underselling themselves for a number of reasons. Let’s be transparent in the workplace. The UK is introducing laws  which will force companies with 250 of more staff to publically publish salaries allowing everyone to get a clear indication of their equal pay structure. I think this is an excellent idea! To little surprise, there has been a delay in implementing the law but at least it’s coming (even if we have to wait to 2018).

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Double body standards

HORRIFYING STATISTICS are flying around at the moment revealing that 91% of women hate their bodies! I’m sorry but this is FUCKED UP!!!!

91%??????!!!!!?????!!!

I hate to admit it but I’m part of that statistic. Since I was 5 years old I was told that my body wasn’t good enough. It started off with my dad’s’ receptionist making a comment about my food behaviour. I had graduated from eating 1 egg to 2 eggs and it was insinuated that this was not a good thing! Since then (5 years old) I have been loathing myself with a lifetime of fucked up food messaging and diet stories that could make for a billion blog posts! This makes me super angry!

I think about my body heroes – Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer who have somehow OWNED IT. They proudly sit comfortably in their skin (although they are publically scrutinised for it)

I want to give these women a hug and say “thank you” for showing me that ripples and bumps and lumps are normal. I hate that I want to label them as brave, because why should we be “brave” when showing off our bodies?  I have never had smooth thighs. Since I was little I have had such envy of women who could walk around in bikinis and short shorts. I feel my thighs resemble moon craters with dips and craters that don’t look anything like a Victora Secret catalogue. It’s exhausting all the self-loathing! I’m 34 now and I’m tired of hating myself. I’m tired of society telling me my body as a woman isn’t “good enough”. I never get the sense that my male counterparts feel the same way. They’ll make the occasional throw away comment about needing to lose weight but they seem comfortable stripping down without a care in the world and I believe a lot of that has to do with messaging.  I’m glad there are movements happening from Dove commercials to labelling photoshopping but it’s not enough. I look forward to the day when I can walk down the street and see all the advertising reflect bodies of the women I know, not the unattainable superstars.

1035-Dove-Real-Beauty-CampaignNext violence against women

Domestic abuse if still rife, with women around the world being emotionally, physically and sexually abused.  In some places, the violence is tolerated and in certain countries celebrated. In Peru this week over 50,000 people marched in protest of lenient sentencing shown towards men who are violent towards women. That inhumane practice  of “honour  killings” where women are murdered for bringing perceived shame to their family still continues. Women can be murdered for not wearing the right clothes, talking to someone of the opposite sex or following their own path instead of their families.   In many cases, there is no proof of this ‘dishonour’ but perception is enough to kill.  These women are murdered by their family members – fathers, brother and uncles who hide behind the term honour – where there is absolutely nothing honourable! Its a barbaric act of control, using fear to disempower. Again the double standards are present, its normally always women who are slaughtered. Men can be killed in “honour killings” for example in Pakistan in June a man was killed by his wifes family because they dissaproved of their marriage  – but again this is far from the norm.

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Trapped in a cycle of powerlessness

For me, my greatest heartbreak is when I look at my sisters in developed countries who seem trapped in a system that will always keep them as second class citizens. These are the women who are not given any chance at bettering their lives. They never get to go to school, they never learn to read or write, they become mothers at 12 and are  enslaved to the every need of their fathers, brothers and husbands. I always think about these women who are lost in a system, a poverty trap with little hope of ever breaking out. I’m about to start working with an NGO to help mentor a woman in a developed country with her small business in the hope that I can empower her to break out, build her future and inspire others. (More details to come once I actually start volunteering.)

As women in countries where we are entitled to have a voice, WE MUST use it! More importantly, if we know men who believe that women should have an equal place at the table we must encourage them to advocate. Both genders need to take a stand. All societies benefit from empowered women. Tokenistic conversations will only get us so far but it’s actual advocacy, debate and accountability that will make changes. Society as a whole needs to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

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I’m proud to be a feminist

I am proud to be a feminist. I’m proud to have started a blog that focuses on women helping women. I don’t want to have to fight for my gender but the truth is I must! In modern society Britain, I’m still not equal – I see it in the government here. Yes, we may have a female Prime Minister but even the cabinet is not 50/50.  I don’t want a position because I’m a woman, I just don’t want to miss out on an opportunity because I have a uterus. I know I can do more and I will do more. I will speak more loudly about women’s rights, I’ll demand to know my male counterparts wages and I will help women across the world through pro-active advocacy, mentoring and charity.  I am a feminist! I am powerful! I will use my skills to create a society in which women are equal to men so that if I ever have children – a boy or girl – they can live in a world where they are defined by a lot more than just there genitalia.

Written by Danielle Lauren

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Danielle Lauren has been working in the Entertainment Industry for over 17 years. Her love of storytelling has passionately driven her to a successful career with global credentials. She has directed ‘The Vagina Monologues’ at The Sydney Opera House, ran MTV Australia / New Zealand as their sole Executive Producer, mobilised 30,000 filmmakers internationally to film their lives simultaneously for a feature film called the 11Eleven Project and currently works on digital projects for Google, Microsoft, Sky, Sony, BBC and MTV UK. Passionate about making the world a better place for all people Danielle has also worked with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, WWF, UNHCR, NSW Rape Crisis Centre, WIZO and the Aids Council. Danielle currently sits on the Royal Television Society’s futures committee, helping young people build fledging careers in the UK TV Industry. A global citizen Danielle was born in South Africa, grew up in Australia, lived in America, France and now resides in the United Kingdom.

You can follow Danielle Lauren on Twitter, LinkedIn  or Instagram 

 

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