This comes from my perspective as a mother who has raised three boys and two girls, and more crucially, from the many hours of discussions and debates I shared with my 17-year-old daughter in the context of feminism (from her International Baccalaureate literature survey).
Close your eyes and think about a boy you know.
Think about the way he looks. Think about the things he says. Think about his nuances.
He is different from you.
His DNA makes him different from you. He has a Y chromosome, you don’t. You have an extra X instead.
That very differences means that you look, feel and think differently, because science has shown that differences in genes account for a lot more than the colour of your hair, eyes and skin. Most of these differences is expressed in a natural environment – society constraints make us behave differently, for better and also for worse. One of the most informative books you can read about this is Richard Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene.
Society and the environment screw us up. Women grow up thinking that we can and we should beat boys at their own game. So we rush off into the world, pseudo-males in our minds, swaggering, aggressive and conquering.
But our evolutionary biology did not craft us to be wannabe men. We are different. Our strengths are different, too. I read a provocative article sometime back (I am sorry, I don’t have the link) that proposes this provocative theory: if all the women in the world are wiped out, men will not last the generation, but if it is men who are wiped out, women will have a better chance of surviving in a world without men than men are in a world without women.
So you see, our strength is in collaboration. Building strong foundations. Nurturing, whether our children or others.
So I told my daughter, the best you can give your partner is this. The best you can give is your genetics, your family history and your beliefs, because those are what that make you YOU.
Your vagina is only part of the package. I stress the word “part of”. It should not be given in isolation of the other parts, but nor should it be the flagship of who you are as a woman.
So don’t be afraid to talk to boys or to interact with them as equals, out of the fear of what society or idle gossipers may say about you. You are not defined by your vagina, even though narrow-minded and unawakened people (including women) define you by that due to their own limitations. Perhaps they define themselves that way. Perhaps they have been brought up to believe that their virginity and sexuality is the highest they can give, the best they have.
You know it is not.
The best of you live in your mind, in your heart, and in your soul. To be a feminist is thus, in my books, not fighting for equality, but instead, honouring your biology and that of your sisters. We have come a long way from the time where women are second-class citizens. Travel, read, spend time with friends, achieve, stay at home, be. Be who you are: know who you are and wear your crown with pride ❤