For most of my life, I never really thought about myself as a feminist. My idea of feminism was a vague notion of burning the bras and refusing to have family for the sake of a career. Boys in the second grade didn’t want to play soccer with me because I was a girl? I didn’t complain to anyone although it didn’t feel right. My high school classmates made jokes that I can’t really be a woman if I am that good at geometry and physics? I laughed with them but worried secretly about what was wrong with me. My boss favored my male colleagues although I worked harder and was better at my job? I immersed into work I loved even deeper not expecting to be appreciated for it anymore.
Interestingly, none of my experiences of unfairness seemed to be enough to open my eyes, clearly name what was wrong and stand up for myself. So, what has changed? Why do I feel as a different person now?
I became a feminist without knowing about it at first. The major trigger for me was my daughter-to-be back then. The realization that I was pregnant and that I was going to bring another girl to this world changed my way of thinking immensely. Knowing that my daughter would experience all these moments of belittling, depreciation and unfairness if I didn’t do anything about it seemed overwhelming at first. But then I realized how much power I had to change the world around me. To change it for her.
“Being a feminist means honoring equality for everyone and having a freedom to choose the life of your own.”
I have started pointing out small things, moments of discouragement or unequal treatment that I was experiencing as a woman in my day-to-day life. First to myself, then to my family and lastly to other people. My brother was complaining about his girlfriend not making an effort with her appearance? I would gently remind him that her looks are her choice. An insightful input from my female colleague was ignored at a work meeting? I would discuss her ideas further and let the whole group know how useful I found it.
I have soon realized that many stereotypes about female role in our society are deeply rooted in our minds and that there is a long way ahead of us to change that. But I also understood that the only cure is to raise the awareness about women’s issue. Because talking about a problem means admitting the existence of a problem.
According to Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation Poll in 2016, 93% of women believe that men and women should be social, political and economic equals and 3 out of 5 women in the U.S. identify themselves as feminists. Although not every person convinced about the equality of men and women calls herself a feminist, the feminist movement undoubtedly shaped the current position of women in our society. For me personally, becoming a feminist meant admitting that the topic of women’s issues even nowadays needs my attention and my involvement.
Knowing that I am not passively accepting but that I am determined to change the world around us gives me strength. I am a proud feminist and I will bring up my children in the spirit of feminism. Because being a feminist is not about being a woman or choosing a particular lifestyle. Being a feminist means honoring equality for everyone and having a freedom to choose the life of your own. Join our cause to help to spread the word and make a difference.
Katarina Pankova is a dedicated neuroscientist, educator and an ambitious writer. She loves intellectual challenges, learning new things, travelling and dancing salsa. If she was given a magic stick, one of her first actions would be to free the mankind of violence, injustice and ignorance. For more information, check out her LinkedIn profile.