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This Is Why We Need Feminism

This Is Why We Need Feminism

Feminism is not about hating men at all, as Emma Watson so powerfully said in her speech at the UN in support of the ‘HeForShe’ campaign. It is about a basic human right: the equality of men and women. As we all know, the reality is painfully different. This is why we need feminism.

Only about 135,000 men from all over the world have signed the pledge to help make changes happen so that women and girls no longer face discrimination. Yes, I have signed. Have you? Here is the link to the pledge. We have a long way to go!

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive, both men and women should feel free to be strong.” -Emma Watson

What’s wrong with our society? We are gender obsessed. From the moment we are born, we are expected (and indeed forced) into a stereotypical role in line with our sex. Blue for a boy, pink for a girl. It starts early, and even earlier for those who insist on knowing what the gender of their little baby will be.

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    Miss America gets the prize!

    Let me give you a few other examples of our sexist and anti-feminist society. Look at the Miss America beauty contest and the thousands of others around the world, based on the same old formula, since 1921. That is nearly a century! The Miss America slogan is “style, service, scholarship and success.”

    As we all know, the reality is totally different. Why would you test a person’s knowledge, sensitivity, social commitment and intelligence by asking her to walk around on a stage half-naked? Why would you ask her the most tortuous question and expect an answer in 20 seconds? Why limit the entrants to those who have never been pregnant or never have had children? The view of a woman’s role in society is still distorted and wrong.

    Can you imagine testing a man’s knowledge and management skills by asking him to strut around in his underwear?

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    Feminism is important. Here are several more examples why we need feminism:

    • Blatant sexism permeates economic, social and economic life
    • Women want to be called strong, not bitchy
    • Women should never need to apologize for their success
    • Urgent need to accept people of all genders and identities
    • Women do not need to be told how to live their life
    • We need to get rid of hypocrisy and double standards when talking about women
    • We need to erase the gender binary
    • Men who are called feminists should not be mocked
    • One day, the word feminism will become obsolete.

    Women and men in running the home

    We still have a long way to go to get rid of the idea that running a small family unit and rearing kids is for women only. If a woman chooses to work outside the home, she still is often assumed to have to do all the housework, or most of it! There are still very few stay-at-home dads.

    pornforwomen

      The solution? We could have more paternity leave and government-funded childcare. Equal pay would be excellent. It seems that these are pretty normal in Sweden, but still a long way off in the USA and Europe. Now Sweden is not on another planet, or is it?

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      The media is rife with sexist language and propaganda

      “No one can make you inferior without your permission.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

      The media should be leading the way towards a more tolerant society in which the sexes become equal. But, again, it seems like a mirage in the desert. Just look at the sexist language and stereotypes we are subjected to every day:

      • Women can only be skinny
      • The average UK woman worries about her body image every 15 minutes (because they have been bombarded with sexist and fat-shaming propaganda in advertising)
      • Darker skinned women must get a paler complexion
      • Female nudity is used to sell tabloid newspapers in the UK. No paper prints photos of male attributes (yet!)
      • Men are often portrayed as being dumb and incompetent on many sitcom shows, showing the sexism is not all one way.
      • Some men are portrayed as fat in family sitcoms, while the wife is always skinny and sexy.
      • Smart people are usually male, while females are dumb but always attractive.
      • No prizes for guessing what the majority sex is when words like paranoid, humourless, selfish, man-hating, butch, and aggressive are used in the media.

      If you want change to happen, make sure you sign up to Endangered Bodies, a global initiative to stop advertisers sending women messages which make them hate their bodies. Just another reason why we still need feminism.

      Violence against women

      The overwhelming majority of female homicides are carried out by male partners. In the UK, 54% of female murder victims were killed by their partner, ex-partner or lover. Figures from around the globe are equally harrowing. Resorting to firearms is not the answer, as this report shows.

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      Why we still need feminism

      As you can see from all the examples above, we still need feminism to ensure that the war for equal rights among the sexes is won. The battle is being fought on these fronts:

      • Eliminate the pay gap of 23% between men and women
      • End FGM (female genital mutilation), which prevents women from fully enjoying sex. It is still practised in 29 countries
      • No longer assume a women has to take the man’s surname in marriage or civil partnerships
      • Stop justifying rape on how a woman is dressed

      Once there is full equality in political, economic and social life, there will be no need for the word ‘feminism’. It will simply become obsolete. As we are nowhere near this Utopia, this is why we sill need feminism.

      Featured photo credit: I need feminism because…../Leeds College of Music via flickr.com

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      Robert Locke

      Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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      Last Updated on January 15, 2019

      How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

      How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

      Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

      In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

      Step right up, don’t be shy!

      Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

      The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

      Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

      Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
      So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

      A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

      Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

      Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

      When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

      Culturally Conditioned

      We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

      I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

      The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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      Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

      Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

      Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

      1. Broadens Your Network

      After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

      2. Improves Your Communication Skills

      I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

      Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

      3. Continually Learning

      So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

      Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

      4. Increases Self Confidence

      Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

      Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

      So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

      How to Talk to Strangers

      Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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      1. Say Hello

      Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

      Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

      Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

      2. Ask About Them

      Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

      You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

      As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

      3. Just Do It

      One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

      When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

      Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

      4. Don’t Take It Personal

      One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

      When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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      5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

      I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

      One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

      6. Detach

      A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

      Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

      7. Share Your Stories

      Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

      To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

      So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

      8. Give a Compliment

      Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

      When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

      9. Relax Your Body Language

      If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

      When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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      If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

      10. Practice, Practice, Practice

      Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

      Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

      After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

      The Bottom Line

      As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

      There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

      Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

      Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

      More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

      Reference

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