I’m so excited to be sharing this post with you today! The Self Esteem Team is a group of three awesome women who provide talks and advice to teenagers about a range of issues that affect teenagers lives.
They’ve just released their first book – a guide to all sorts of things teenagers are asking – and I was lucky enough to be asked if I’d like to join its blog tour! Natasha Devon is a journalist and one third of the team. She’s here today to talk feminism and empowerment! Whoop!
What Does Feminism/Empowerment Mean to Women Today?
By Natasha Devon of the Self-Esteem Team
Feminism is and always has been about choice. Women should be in charge of their own destinies, have the same rights and opportunities as men and respect the choices made by their fellow woman. (I realise of course this is all completely obvious to anyone with a gram of sense, but you’d be surprised how often my job (as a journalist and TV pundit) necessitates repeating the above)
Having choices isn’t to be confused with ‘having it all’ – in my opinion that’s a dangerous and tiresome myth. There’s enough pressure on women already to emulate a terrifyingly narrow and prescriptive idea of ‘perfection’ without throwing an expectation that we’ll be ‘brilliant at everything’ into the mix.
The teens we work with often tell me that at some point during the past decade, their understanding of feminism’s slogan shifted from ‘you can do anything you want!’ to ‘you must do everything!’. Young women (indeed, all young people) are currently feeling the pressure to attain straight A*s, to keep up the appearance of an awesome social life on the web and to look fantastic for their proms. In the terrifying global hierarchy created by social media, nothing short of ‘the best’ will do.
Emily Pankhurst wouldn’t approve (probably. We can’t ask her). There’s little advantage in women in developed countries having more opportunity than ever before if we’re going to tie ourselves in knots, constantly worrying that we aren’t getting it right.
The best type of feminism isn’t about hating men, but about loving yourself. It’s about valuing yourself enough to know that you can do anything you set your mind to, but you don’t have to succeed the first (or even the seventh) time. It’s about knowing that neither your dress size nor your bank balance defines who you are. It’s about forgiving yourself, learning from your mistakes and having the confidence to celebrate your triumphs. It’s about recognising that you are unique and marvellous but, perhaps even more crucially, so is everyone else.
Increasingly, we are recognising that people of all genders need to be included in the feminist dialogue. Gender politics is now being discussed in school assemblies, not just in exclusive female-only clubs.
Whatever your sexuality, orientation or gender identity, you will face challenges in your life. I hope the future of feminism will be less about firing 140-character insults across the no-man’s land of the Twittersphere (or, as Ricky Gervais puts it ‘shouting in a bin’) and more about creating a mutually supportive culture where everyone is given the opportunity to flourish.
Thank you, Natasha, for the great guest post! The Self Esteem Team’s Guide to Sex, Drugs & WTFs?!! is out this month.