Feminism doesn’t have borders but neither does hatred and bigotry. Feminists are called feminists in most languages, but the insults and slander against them take many different forms.
I come from the other side of the world, where feminism and the movement towards gender equality have only recently started to speed up. While the many waves of the Western feminism discussed wage gaps and breaking the glass ceilings, we talked about abolishing stigma against female dress codes and illegal filming in public toilets that is circulated as ‘porn’. Female celebrities have ended their own lives, because they were forced to sleep with high-profile politicians and businessmen. Sexual harassments were reported amongst the female prosecutors. The entertainment industry has pumped out female ‘idol groups’ formed with teenage girls, actively marketing their sexuality targeted towards older men. This was the extent of nonsense I had to witness in a country with the 11th biggest economy in the world.
That is why moving to the west was an entirely different experience, but at the same time, surprisingly similar. I no longer had to worry about going bra-less or wearing cropped tops, or using public toilets in fear of getting filmed by a random pervert. Wearing thick layers of make-up no longer meant I was ‘spoilt’. There was less pressure placed on conforming to a certain image of ‘fragile and weak’ girls—the quintessential definition of femininity I was used to. Being introduced to diversity and self-representation was a truly liberating experience.
Nevertheless, it was still an uncomfortable environment to introduce myself as a feminist. The US #MeToo movement has proven that women in the US and Europe are not exempt from harassment by men in powerful positions. I now see tiers of oppression the women of racial and ethnic minority groups are facing. People are allowed to lend support to ‘gender equality’ but not ‘feminism’. The skepticism of feminism, so deeply entrenched within people’s subconscious, was not so different from what I escaped from. I was often stunned by the acts justified in the name of convention, culture, and ‘this is how it is supposed to be’.
To witness the recent ‘globalisation’ of feminism, therefore, is empowering. Movements like ‘This Kent Girl Can’, effectively asks people, what are feminists trying to say? What are feminists in Europe, America, Asia, and Africa are trying to achieve in the end?
We would all say female empowerment, education, representation, and liberation from stereotypes and gender roles. What would the world then look like? Both men AND women would be free from any frameworks or presumptions deriving from their sex. Liberation of individuals. That is the essence of feminism and it is happening in lot of places, both where I am from and where I live now. Feminism could be that language we all speak, to bring about the next level of human liberation.