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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

Not Another Article About Feminism…

Of all the awkward and embarrassing moments of my adolescence, there is one particularly excruciating moment that I struggle to recall without cringing. 15 years old and at the height of my teenage rebellion, I was at a friend’s house-party when the discussion of gender equality arose.

“Well, I think men suffer more sexism than women these days” I defiantly exclaimed, flicking my over-styled hair and pouting my lips.

With my eyes caked in make-up and the sickly taste of Strongbow distinct on my tongue, wasn’t I oh-so-cool? Wasn’t I so open-minded and original? My god, wasn’t 15 year old me incredibly forward-thinking? The answer to all of these questions is obviously no. My adolescent self was nothing more than painfully uneducated and desperate to impress that boy from my English class.

Just four years later, I am drunk and sobbing in ‘Oceana’ toilets because I feel so degraded by the guy who groped me in the Cheese room. Suffice to say, my naïve bubble has been shattered as I have fallen victim to the sexual inequality facing women. So, why exactly was 15 year old me so sure it didn’t exist?

Of course, I cited ‘Loose Women’ as my greatest example;

“If there was a panel of men discussing women in that way, it wouldn’t even make it on the air!” I reasoned (why I thought this would make me seem desirable and attractive, I’ll never know).

In fairness, I maintain that ‘Loose Women’ is an entirely misandrogynous programme that has no place in a non-discriminatory society. Nevertheless, for every anti-male comment made by Carol McGiffin, there’s an occurrence of rape, of female genital mutation; there’s a young girl not confident enough to enter the political world.

Before you start sticking pins in your eyes and sighing ‘not another bloody feminist article’, let me get one thing straight; nobody is more bored of the feminist debate than me. Quite frankly, I find it so tedious having to justify my actually very basic and not at all radical beliefs.

It is only logical to me that I self-identify as a feminist. In my mind, feminism is as reasonable as movements of anti-racism and pro-animal rights. Saying ‘I’m a feminist’ should be as socially acceptable and as rational as declaring ‘hey, Hitler was a pretty bad guy’. But it’s not. Instead, when I make my ideals known, I am met with stunned silence as though I have broken the greatest societal taboo.

With Emma Watson inspiring a host of celebrities to vocally support her ‘HeForShe’ campaign, it would appear the stigma surrounding feminism has disappeared. In reality, this is not the case. Surrounded by my university friends – all of whom are highly intellectual and well-read -, I am still very much in the minority for labelling myself the F-word. Furthermore, the hashtag ‘#womenagainstfeminism’ is still hugely popular on Twitter. After all, feminism has become synonymous with man-hating lunatics. Yes, there are extremists and there always will be. However, they do not define the movement. Radical Malcolm X believed black people were superior to whites but still he did not invalidate the whole cause for racial equality. Where would we be if he had?

The Western world is based upon the freedom of speech and it is thus not my wish to shame anti-feminists. I will, however, encourage them to question exactly what it is about feminism that they oppose. If their answer is either ‘because sexism no longer exists’ or ‘because too many women want superiority’, I would hastily advise them to do some extensive research.

We live in a country where men massively outnumber women in politics. We live in a country where domestic abuse, rape, stalking and other forms of violence impact 3 million females per year. We live in a country where 70% of those receiving minimum wage are women. Still not convinced? Let’s look outside Britain. Girls are being raped, refused an education and forced into marriages across the globe – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Surely this cannot be so in an era where ‘sexual inequality doesn’t exist’? Even if we did live in a world where men and women were wholly equal, wouldn’t it be great if we had a movement that continued to govern the rights of both genders? After all, feminism is not solely the advancement but the maintenance of gender equality.

If I could go back and advise my 15 year old self, I would tell her several things. First and foremost, she should take it easy on the Strongbow because, in about an hour, she’ll have vomit in her hair and a furious mother yelling at her. Secondly, I would tell her that, if she really wants to attract a boy, she should maybe sort out that abhorrent side fringe and scrub off all the Benefit eyeliner instead of spouting nonsense. In all seriousness, I would tell my 15 year old self to please educate herself about the definition of feminism because her perpetuation of ignorance is extremely damaging and corruptive. I would tell her that saying you’re a feminist doesn’t make you uncool or outrageous. It doesn’t mean you have to surrender your love of baking or stop wearing bras. It certainly doesn’t mean that boys won’t like you.

Now 19 years of age, with no cheap cider in my system, I can confidently call myself a feminist. All this means is that I wish is to live in a world that is as fair and reasonable to me as it is my brothers. What is so radical about that?

Harriet Dunlea is Campus Correspondent and Co-Editor in Chief of Her Campus Nottingham. She is a final year English student at the University of Nottingham. Her passion for student journalism derives from her too-nosey-for-her-own-good nature.