Why I Became a Feminist and Why You Should Be One Too

Why I Became a Feminist and Why You Should Be One Too

My sophomore year I remember standing in my newsroom telling another staff member that “I am not a feminist, I’m more of an equalist. I feel like feminism is a movement to try to make men less equal than us.” The room went quiet and I could feel everyone’s heavy stares judging me. Confused as to why people were making me feel like my opinion was invalid, I quickly did some research on feminism and soon realized that in fact, my opinion was quite invalid. , two years to today, I can proudly call myself a feminist and here’s why.

Merriam-Webster defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Although this definition helped me understand the basis of feminism, the strong women in my life were who made me want to support this cause even more. There are going to be many people who care about you in the world, but nobody will ever support you like your mother. My mother who has worked for over 20 years to provide the best she can for my older brother and me, is the reason I am a feminist. She is a project manager at the world-renowned health care company, Abbott Laboratories. She is also the literal definition of “No Days Off.” My mom has never really had the luxury of seeing her kids come home after school or go to her kids sporting/after school events. Instead, she’s been working long hours in her office to support her family. I’ve given you just a couple reasons as to why my mom is amazing, but why does that make me a feminist? In 2015, full-time female workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. How is that fair? My mother who works equal or longer hours than a man who is doing the same work as her is probably getting paid 20% more than she is. If not my mother, there are millions of women who deal with the gender wage gap in America today.

It is not only because of a pay gap that I am a feminist. I am a feminist because victim blaming is seen as an acceptable way to excuse another person’s behavior. I am a feminist because women all around the world who get raped are asked questions such as “were you drunk”, or “what were you wearing” as if any of those are excuses to be raped. I am a feminist because Brock Turner — a former Stanford student and athlete — got his jail sentence of 6 months reduced to 3 after raping an unconscious girl outside a fraternity house in 2016. I’m a feminist because women around the world are taught to never leave their drink alone, instead of men being taught not to tamper with a drink. I’m a feminist because the odds of being attacked by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067 while the odds of a woman being raped are 1 in 5 in the U.S. The fear of being attacked by a shark is considered valid while the fear of being attacked by a man is deemed as misandry.

But, one of the most prominent reasons I am a feminist is because of my religion. I am a feminist because my religion,contrary to popular belief, promotes equality and empowerment of women.We are not taught to belittle  our women, instead, we are taught to treat them with the highest level of respect and dignity. The Noble Quran (4:1, 7:189, 42:11) states that God gave both men and women the same soul, meaning one isn’t superior to the other. The media portrays my faith as one filled with hate and oppression, but if you’ve ever met a Muslim woman, you know that we are strong, successful and confident beings.

That being said, I’m so lucky to be an environment like Niles West where I’m surrounded by people who not only have similar beliefs as me but also make it a safe environment for people from all backgrounds coexist. My current Literature of Peace and Nonviolence teacher Dena Lichterman has been advocating for women’s rights since college.

“I really became an activist in college, I was surrounded by a strong group of women and we were very involved at our small liberal arts school. We felt the need to make our voices heard so I got involved in women’s studies classes as well as the National Abortion Rights Action League, helped plan women events around campus, and those things really lit a fire under me to become an activist,” said Lichterman.

Her work didn’t stop there. After college, Lichterman worked at a human rights organization, group home for girls, and a sexual assault agency. She tries to incorporate all her experiences and lessons she’s learned to not only her Literary of Peace and Nonviolence class but her junior honors english class and her senior english class. Along with strong women like Mrs.Lichterman,  a group of students at West have started our first feminism club also known as “Fem Club.”  

“As a previous debater, I found that instead of just talking about the issues of feminism I could  become a true activist and do something with all of the knowledge I received debating. I just felt that I needed to do something about all the negative ways I was feeling with the way women, and other minority groups are treated in media, and in real life. I thought what better way to combat this than working to create an intersectional safe space that’s inclusive to all so we can all combat these issues together. Because at the end of the day we’re stronger together.  Most of the issues we see are discussed within the club. While we do encourage those with opposing views to join us for discussions, a lot of the time it’s just us coming together to figure out things we want to change throughout the school. For instance we used one of the bake sales to pay for the hygiene kits and we are hoping that this year we will be able to get a speaker in for healthy relationships. around the same time as Valentine’s day to remind everyone of the importance of not only consent, but what a healthy relationship looks like and how to practice that.” said Co-President of Fem Club and senior Lejla Vojnikovic. Vojnikovic’s goal for Fem Club is to create equity amongst all  genders, races and religions at Niles West.

Whether at school or at home I am constantly surrounded by people who yearn for the same goals. The staff and students at Niles West are the type of people who are are changing the world without even realizing it. I strongly advise anyone who doesn’t believe in feminism to do a little more research and reassess your stance on it Who knows, maybe you’ll change your mind quicker than I did.

 

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13 Comments

  1. avatar
    Ashley S.

    Honestly this was such an informative article! Ignore what others say because I actually learned so much from this. Thank u for sharing your story

  2. avatar
    Sana's Grandma

    This article is so inspiring and for those of you who decide to wear blinders when considering the message my dear Sana is trying to convey, feminism is fighting for equality of both men and women. Keep an open mind, this was an article about feminism and these comments are focusing on religion; it is all perspective. Think about what you are trying to say before irresponsibly commenting on my sweet granddaughter’s precious work.

    • avatar
      Sana

      Thanks Grandma!! I love your support!!

    • avatar
      Joe

      If you don’t want people to comment about Islam, then you should have not connected the story with feminism.

  3. avatar
    David P

    I stopped buying Decalicious because I learned it supports Fem Club.

    Feminism is a dangerous ideology that creates a victim complex, impelling people to see sexism where is isn’t without considering other factors AT ALL. Including your wage gap. Your representation of the wage gap is flawed. It was calculated using the average salary of women and average salary of men without being accountable for the difference in work behavior. It’s not a CONTROLLED study. There are other variables to account for. Even if that was true, you can’t honestly apply that to your mother, unless you know here salary and another man’s salary, and they both have the same experience, educational background, hours, etc.

    Your representation of rape is completely ridiculous. Did you know that men can get raped too? Rape is not a reason to be a feminist, it’s a reason to be an egalitarian, like you were before.

    And Islam…. it’s a serious issue but I have to laugh at that. If you belong to ANY religion, your brain has less value already because it shows that you easily give in to things that you want to be true and have to skepticism toward anything. But to believe for a second that Islam supports women’s rights? Sure, they may be “born with the same soul”, but that’s not how most Muslim countries view women. And that’s all that matters because Islam is not true. Since Islam isn’t true, all that matters is what people do with the information in the Quran, not what it says. Your book is still extremely misogynistic, and I can’t find a sane reason why a feminist would propagate Islam, but a gender egalitarian like me wouldn’t.

    While it’s good to fight for inequalities toward women, you can still fight for inequalities against men too. And be careful with statistics and data. Also be careful with propaganda. Be skeptical of everything. Often people will interpret something as sexism without considering other factors. Don’t listen to Occupy Democrats. Big flashy letters don’t mean anything. Their Politifact rating sucks too.

    Overall, just investigate what the truth really is, not what you want it to be.

  4. avatar
    Nate

    Feminism is cancer

    • avatar
      A.A

      Cancer= practice or phenomenon perceived to be evil or destructive and hard to contain or eradicate.
      Feminism= the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

      I don’t see how these two go together, but okay maybe you just need help at making analogies. I have a good tutor you could talk to.

      • KN

        There are some feminist who take it too far by destroying signs and causing fight. They even where no clothes in public which is not helping anybody especially some children who aren’t even near the age of 18 or over. I’m just saying some people in all ideologies take it too far that is why people say Feminism is Cancer.

    • avatar
      Joe

      Good for you! Will now be boycotting them as well!

  5. avatar
    Gul syed

    Dear Sana Kadir, your article changed my views quicker than you, very solid example are given. Good luck with your fem club. Keep up the good work in the right direction,

  6. avatar
    Michael

    I applaud your mother for what she has done. However you are completely wrong about Islam’s treatment of women. First of all, Muhammad married and had sex with a 13 year old girl. Have you ever been to Sadia Arabia? Well if you have, you’ve never seen a woman driving, walking alone, and the top of her head. In no way does Islam represent gender equality, and you are quiet frankly delousional about Islam and women. Also, the gender pay gap is a total myth.

    • avatar
      Michael S.

      Islam taught that women must give consent to enter marriage. There are no authentic reports of the specific age of Aisha (the Prophet’s wife who you claim to be 13) Some reports have her as young as 9, while others as old as 16. However, the clear message has nothing to do with age, but with consent. The parents must also consent to a marriage. With these two things in place, the woman’s consent, and her parents’ consent, Islam attempts to ensure justice and safety for women. Of course there are always people who abuse the law, but this can happen in any society at any time.

      Yes, Saudi Arabia does discriminate against women, but this too is not from Islam. There’s nothing in the Quran or hadith to suggest women can’t drive, or ride camels or what not. If there were, don’t you think other Muslim majority countries would also ban women from driving?

      It’s important not to mistake local cultural practices with Islam.

      Anyway, I also applaud Sana for her writing this, and wish her the best. It’s important to raise confident, intelligent and socially aware girls and boys, Muslim or otherwise.

      • avatar
        Joe

        I would agree with you if S A was the only example, however it is not. In Pakistan honor killings are a common thing. In general most muslim countries are violent. It is the truth. Christianity spread through slaves and women, creating hope. Islam spread through war and conquest, creating fear. Islamic countries are also not accepting of other beliefs. Forced conversions, beatings and hangings. Also you see what is happening in Europe now. Countries like Sweden are having more rapes than India. People are driving trucks into Christmas markets. Do you see chrisians in Iraq driving into mosques?. No you do not. My point is Islam is much more violent and unacepting, while Christianity is the opposite. Ever see a jiza in a christian country? no

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About

Besides spending her time writing for Niles West News and The Chicago Tribune's Mash, Sana Kadir trains for Track and Field. She enjoys traveling the world with friends and family. She is also the social media director for the NWN.

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