How Feminism helped me with Everyday Sexism

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10 Times in My Life When I Needed Feminism Most

1. When the phrase “That’s not very lady-like” was first said to me by an adult I loved and trusted. It was the first time I was told I couldn’t possibly be a woman if I acted a certain way. That there were unwritten rules to how a woman should behave.

2. When I cut my hair short when I was eight and one of the neighborhood kids told me I looked like a boy. I took this as a bad thing. I wore pink to make me feel more like a girl. I learned that to be a woman you had to have long hair. That woman had to look a certain way. I grew my hair out.

3. I was thirteen. A boy I didn’t know told me I looked anorexic. I was taught that my body looked unhealthy, and my body wasn’t normal. That I should be ashamed of how I look. I become self-conscious of how thin my legs and arms were. I started wearing black tights under my shorts and shirts even when it was summer.

4. Sixteen. I was walking to school in a skirt (it was school uniform) when an elderly man walking past me said: “your legs look nice in those stockings.” It could’ve just been his way of being nice, but it made my stomach churn. It took two years for me to feel comfortable enough to wear anything that showed off my legs again. I smiled and said ‘thank you’ to him.

5. All of those times a man in a van has honked his horn at me, and all of those times I didn’t put my middle finger up at him. I was telling them that this is a normal thing to do, that I’m not bothered by their actions. That women are so used to it that it should be expected.

6. The times I have been too scared to tell that guy not to touch me in a club.

7. When my self-esteem and confidence was so low that I didn’t leave the guy who cheated on me.

8. The time I didn’t say anything when a family member told me that “a lady shouldn’t have tattoos.”

9. All of the times when I just grinned and bared it when a man said something sexist to me.

10. Every single time I was told that it’s ‘impolite’ to say no.

What I wish I could’ve told myself:

1. A ‘lady’ is whatever the hell you want a lady to be. A lady doesn’t whatever she damn wants. A lady doesn’t have to call herself a lady at all.

2. Having short hair doesn’t make you any less of a woman. You can still be feminine and still have short hair. The length of your hair doesn’t define who you are. There is no one way that a woman should look.

3. Body shaming is never, ever okay. No matter what it is. Do not be ashamed of being thin. Your body is beautiful. As long as you’re healthy and happy, that’s all that matters. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

4. Do not EVER let what a creepy man in the street has told you to change the way you dress. Do not cover yourself up. You were a child. You were not wrong for wearing a skirt.

5. Put your damn middle finger up at every catcall you receive. They are so used to women not answering back. Be the one who does.

6. Grab them by the fucking wrists and shove them as far off you as you can. They will act like you’re overreacting, but you’re not.

7. I’ll give you a hug and tell you that you’re so much better off without him. Even if you can’t see it now. But I promise you, once you’re out of this situation, you will realise how amazing you are and how much you are worth.

8. A ‘lady’ should be able to do whatever the hell she wants with her body. Her body is hers and no one else’s.

9. Call men out on their sexism. Their fragility might show, but they might also learn something.

10. For the love of God, say no. Say no as many times as you want. It’s not rude or impolite. It’s called having a voice, USE IT.