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Sara Al Mheiri: I am not ashamed
September 19, 2014
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Are you a feminist? She asked me nervously with a lowered voice, as though she had just uttered the most derogatory word possible. I looked at her with confusion. Yes, why and most importantly how could I not be? I very much dislike the stigmatism that is now associated with feminism; as though advocating for basic human rights is just a waste of time. I’m not sure what world you live in but in mine, we still have macabre situations that are still not being addressed the way they should be.

This conversation between the girl and I (her ignorance to feminism has reduced to ‘girl’ in my eyes) started when someone mentioned the new phase that women are doing now on the Internet. It’s the ‘Why am I not a feminist’ photo series where women take pictures of themselves holding up a sign explaining why they’re not. It has caught a lot of attention and I now see it in every form of social media. Followed by of course the thousands of comments, usually cheering them on, drowning out the comments of people who take the time to explain why this is absolutely ludicrous.

I went on Google to have a look myself and my assumptions were correct. The main majority of anti-feminist women are Caucasian upper middle class who have had it so easy in life. Now, I know what you are thinking: how can I make such assumptions about these women? Well, it’s because I live with them, I go to school with them and most importantly they are the only race we talk about in my women’s gender classes.

I was so excited to finally be in college and have the opportunity to learn what I find fascinating and advance my knowledge in it. Those aspirations were cut short when I attended my first women’s gender class. And then the next. And the one after that. By the third class I was too bored to be frustrated by the repetition of the classes. Even though I picked radically different classes, we always ended up talking about the same thing. Caucasian, upper middle class women and their ‘horrific’ plight. As though that was all women’s history had to offer. I would often raise my hand up to suggest different topics yet my teachers always firmly insisted on ‘sticking to the programme.’ Whenever it came to discussion time, the topics were painful to listen to. It was the epitome of ‘First World Problems’ where their greatest struggle was their boyfriend saying a mean comment. With no real reason to become a feminist, they turn to either absolute man-haters or anti- feminist. Which is the main reason for this stigmatism. But I for one, am not going to be ashamed of what I truly believe in because of a few girls who can’t be bothered to open their eyes. Now I am not saying this is all of them; there are the few who would fight alongside me to expand the curriculum but this often lamented into one segment of African-American women.

People wonder why in America, being a feminist is something to be ashamed of; well I have been to the source. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to change soon. I want to learn and teach others about the brave women who go out every day in society even though their faces are horrifically scarred. Scarred from the men in their lives who are sick-minded enough to inflict such horrors. I want to learn about the strong women who have the strength to stand up against their abusive husbands and fight for their freedom. I want to learn about the college girls who got raped yet they are the ones being condemned whilst the rapists get nothing but positive attention.

I am proud to say that I am a feminist who will gladly and is fighting for their rights to live a normal human life. In the dictionary, feminism is explained as:

“The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

That’s all we want. The same rights as men; why is that so hard to achieve? Nowhere in that sentence does it say, ‘We women want to get rid of all men and start our own society.’ No, because you must be such an ignorant person if that’s what you read instead. And the sad truth is, that is what a majority of people read. Which type of person are you?
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Sara Al Mheiri is a young Emirati woman who is currently living
in Boston, USA, where she is specialising in media studies with a
focus on women's studies. Sara is the ultimate nomad who flits
between countries observing new societies and their culture.

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