I HONESTLY THINK September 2014 - Page 52

How to be a feminist

A step by step guide to the 'f'word

Should you be so inclined as to believe all humans deserve equal rights then read on. This guide is designed specifically for you. If you are not so inclined then, well, I guess this is goodbye. Alas, I shall miss you dearly and I hope that one day you might return to this humble piece of writing when you feel a little curious about this damned word feminist. To those of you still reading, thank you, the article is really starting now.

STEP ONE: Shout 'I'm a feminist' out of your bedroom window 3 times right now.

This is just to familiarise yourself with the word. It's a nice word. A good word. It's not even a label. It is your friend, everyone's friend in fact. The Oxford English Dictionary defines feminism as 'the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes', not misandry (hatred of men) which has been its negative connotation throughout the movement's history. It does not mean that you burn bras, believe women are superior, or have hairy armpits. Although if you do have hairy armpits kudos to you for defying a beauty standard set by today's society. Feminism is egalitarianism. It is the belief in equality between all sexes, all nationalities, all religions and all sexuality. Don't be afraid of the word. Let it lose all antipathetic associations and give it the friendly power it needs.

STEP TWO: Take a moment to appreciate the sisters (and bros) who've fought to get us here.

Unfortunately we still need feminism to exist because sexism and prejudice is still an ominous presence in many societies but that doesn't mean we haven't progressed, particularly in the Western world. That's down to a lot of extreme feminists fighting back against an unbearably oppressive society in order to move us to where we are today and where we all hope to move

towards in the future. From Mary Wollstonecraft to Emmeline Pankhurst to Germaine Greer, there have been hundreds of men and women pushing for equal rights. Say a quick thank you to them before you, yourself, try to finish what they started; a world where every man and woman is treated equally.

STEP THREE: Prepare yourself to encounter and then subsequently put down sexism.

It is necessary for both guys and girls (unfortunately for girls it's more frequent) to understand when they face sexism and how to deal with it. If you or someone you are aware of are in any way underminded, mocked or abused due to your gender then you are experiencing sexism. Don't worry, stay calm, and try as politely as possible to educate or argue against the individual or group displaying prejudiced behaviour or views. If being polite doesn't work then feel free to either ask for support from friends or speak loudly and clearly about your rights as a human being. Look to online feminist sites such as 'The Vagenda' or the twitter account @everydaysexism for often-hilarious yet regrettable examples of bigotry. If you feel confident speaking out about your beliefs then write, speak, sing, pain and draw your way to equality. This movement needs support and the power of speech and expression. See step one to know how not to be afraid of the word 'feminist'. Use it proudly.

STEP FOUR: Do some research

If you feel that sexism doesn't exist in our society then that's fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion but please be