September 22, 2014

Commentary | March 18, 2013
Stop lying, goddammit
To make feminism accessible, we must stop lying to our children
Written by Annie Chen | Visual by Amina Batyreva

Most of the things we do are utterly hypocritical; lying to girls about gender equality is but one example. Don’t lie – we tell our children that honesty and loyalty are the best virtues one could have. BULLSHIT.

We lie to our daughters. We tell them that they can do absolutely everything they want to do. We tell them that with hard work and determination, anything can be accomplished. We don’t tell them that with all the hard work and determination, a boy will probably still come out on top. We don’t tell them that a boy will earn more money for the same job, have higher chances of being promoted, employed, respected, and praised.

Not being honest with young women about gender inequality prevents them from moving forward by sheltering them from the problem, even denying the truth outrightly, persuading our children that the problem doesn’t exist. Are you joking? Gender inequality is faced every day by every woman everywhere.

Why do we continue to protect this information from our children? Are we trying to prevent treating people with equity? We teach our children to respect others regardless of class, race, gender and a whole range of other factors, so why don’t we tell our children that not everyone faces the same obstacles? Why don’t we tell them that men have the upper hand in this society? Why don’t we tell them that it’s okay for them to be not okay, that it’s okay if they’re angry and infuriated. THEY SHOULD BE INFURIATED. Women need to get angry, to fight back, to act now, to question the status quo. Women need to know that they’re born into the world with a disadvantage. Instead of accepting the disadvantage, let’s educate and let’s fight back. Let’s start with the children. We need to make feminists of our children.

The biggest problem I have with feminism today is that it’s not accessible enough. Sure, we discuss theories in great detail in our twenty-person university lecture, but what about the millions of women outside of that classroom? What about the women that face sexual assault or physical abuse and don’t know the rights they have, the services they could seek help, or the groups where they might find sanctuary.  Feminism is not accessible. When we teach our children that everyone is equal and that we can all achieve our goals if we try hard enough, we are not only lying to them, but actually making feminism less accessible by making it less mainstream and less common.

In a society where only the elite and privileged have the opportunity to discuss gender inequality, how are we going to push women’s rights forward? If only 5 per cent of the world know what a feminist is, how are the other 95 per cent supposed to tell their daughters that they deserve more? If we only sit in our spheres of privilege and discuss feminism in university, with our jargon and academic papers, we’re being hypocrites. We are not standing up for what we argue in class. There are 3.5 billion women on this planet, how many of them know what concepts like feminism are? How many people know that women are allowed to get angry, allowed to challenge the status quo?

Women know that our world favours men, that our world favours heterosexual cis-gendered men, preferably of a middle or upper class. But we do not give them the tools to air these grievances.

To start, we must stop lying to our children about equality. We must tell them the truth. And we must give them the tools to fight for feminist values.

Annie Chen is a U1 Psychology & Women’s Studies student. Annie can be reached at wenan.chen@mail.mcgill.ca.

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