You need feminism

This article has been a long time coming, and something I've been writing, thinking and debating over for some time. And with it being International Women's day, what better time? Feminism gets a bad name sometimes, particularly in the media. People see the word 'feminist' as a dirty word, and imagine us burning our bras (do they know how expensive they are?) and wanting men to be little more than sperm donors, not needing them for anything more than their DNA.

So much so that celebrities such as Kaley Cuoco stated a few months ago that she wasn't a feminist simply because she liked cooking for her husband and doing the wife at home thing (she did later retract this). Or groups of young, seemingly educated women stating why they don't need feminism, such as "we can fight their own battles" or "we like being feminine" or horrifying, "it hurt's men". It leads to satirical accounts on Twitter such as Women against Feminism, but doesn't stop the fact that some women still don't think they need feminism. The same women who don't realize that they wouldn't be able to have that opinion openly without feminism.

It annoys me that it has such a stigma nowadays as I'm proud to say I grew up in a feminist household. This meant I was taught not to take shit from a guy, and to respect myself. This doesn't mean I grew up to be a man-hater or think men were beneath me, and I think this is where the problem lies. So I will admit two things.

I didn't vote when I was younger. And I want to be at home to look after my future children. These two things don't make me a 'bad feminist' or 'anti-womanhood'. It's because I live in this day and age that I have the choice to either do or not do these things. That also means that if I do want to walk into a voting booth and vote, or I want to return to work after a few years, I can. It may not be easy, and it's that part that feminist's are still fighting for: to have the same ease as men in the work and political world. So when celebrities feel they 'aren't a feminist' because they want to stay at home as a family unit, it grates on me that they think it's correct and the meaning has been lost. Would Kaley Cuoco have been able to fight to receive the same $1 million pounds per episode for The Big Bang Theory alongside her colleagues? No, without feminism they would have laughed her off and told her to sling it.

I was particularly intrigued by Grazia's #EqualPay movement that was brought to the House of Commons. With shocking statistics, such as women effectively working for free from November 4th onwards compared to men's pay, it's this that feminists are still fighting for. It remains a fact that whilst a man gets a £2000 bonus, the woman in the same job receives a £100 shopping voucher.  This week it was announced that they had won the battle for employers with over 250 workers had to show the pay of both women and men, which which help end the vast pay gap.

And after reading Caitlin Moran's 'How To Be A Woman', I further understood how blurred feminism has become. Not only is it beautifully written so you can dip in and out of it, but it resets the phrase feminism. So many pages have been dog-eared as she has such a way with words that I just want to keep reading some sentences over and over again until they stop making sense. She questions why she can't still bitch about someone without being 'unfeminist' (quote: "when did feminism become confused with Buddhism") or why we feel the need to spend £21,000 on a wedding to have a special 'me' day instead of something with four walls and a door, and makes you question your own values at the same time.

(Yet she also questions things that have fallen under the feminist label that maybe aren't so, such as a mans uncouth remark simply being rude, not sexist? Whilst at times I cant help but cringe or thank Christ I didn't go through some of the things she did, she makes you question things that you didn't question before. I can't stress this enough: READ THIS BOOK.)

However reading the tweets and recent articles about International Women's day gives me hope that people realize things need to change. The UK may have much better rights than other countries, where we aren't stoned to death for adultery or forced into marriage, but we still have a way to go. We still don't earn the same for the same job. We are still struggling to go back to work after having children. We are still being abused and raped and blamed.

You don't have to be a feminist or even female to want equality. But you do have to rethink certain things we take for granted when you see where women have come from and how we are still trying to change. Even celebrities are using their voices to help the cause, with Patricia Arquette forgoing the usual Oscar speech to speak about equal pay, and Reese Witherspoon wanting "ask her more" for more questions than what dress they are wearing on the red carpet.

I feel like I need to end on Emma Watson's moving "He For She" speech and the effect it has had to raise awareness. Because until both genders realize that being a feminist isn't just for "ugly lesbians" and is needed until genders are equal in all sense of the word, then we remain stuck in the dark ages of equal rights. In honour of International Women's Day, Emma is also doing a video chat for the #HeForShe movement today at 5PM so don't forget to tune in.