Being a feminist is like being a gardener.
When planting a garden, the first thing you must do is examine the soil: is it fertile or dry and parched?
If the soil is not fertile, there is no potential for flowers. You must first lay down compost or other nutrient rich supplements to medicate the soil. Only once the soil has been adequately prepared can you grow your garden.
Then you may begin planting. It is crucial that you lay out your plants so each plant has the right amount of sun for it to grow.
Be wary of planting overpowering bushes next to low-lying ground cover. The bushes will bulldoze and choke the ground cover. Space them so they have the space they need to thrive, and trim back the bushes when they become a threat to the well-being of the rest of the plants.
You will need to do consistent maintenance to ensure your garden will bloom and flourish. If this seems like an unnecessary statement, ask yourself:
When you plant a garden, do you plant some of the flowers with the intention of neglecting them?
Or do you meticulously tend to the flowers, watering them and weeding the area, so that they will grow fruitfully, and you will be rewarded for your labour?
Only though tending to a garden will it bloom vibrantly—a kaleidoscope of charismatic hues. But to get there, a garden must be cared for.
It must be watered and weeded, monitored for pests and all the other tedious management tasks. Growing a garden, a rich and fruitful one, is not an easy thing nor should it be made out to be.
Being a feminist is being a gardener in democracy.
Feminism is taking care of a garden. You must water others with empowerment and constructive criticism as necessary; weed out the ignorant and marginalising thoughts; monitor for signs of tension and anxiety; and make sure everyone gets the right amount of sun.
There seem to be several misaligned stereotypes being thrown around about what it means to be a feminist.
1. Feminism is a comment on whether or not women are expected to be mothers.
2. Feminism is simply an excuse to go braless and free bleed.
3. Feminism is anti-men.
4. Feminism is a façade to force businesses to hire more women.
5. Feminism forces a stereotype of any kind on women.
Feminism, in its true form, includes the belief that every woman has a right to live her life, without needing to fulfil any false preconceptions of what it means to be a woman.
Whether or not a woman wants to be a mother is her decision. Being a woman does not mean having to fulfil someone else’s idea of femininity. Motherhood does not make a woman a woman nor does having a certain skin colour, pronouns, or body type.
Feminism exists on a spectrum just like every other social theory.
There are feminists that believe true gender equality means no expectation of wearing bras. There are feminists who free bleed as a form of protest on the luxury tax on tampons and pads. And there are feminists who do not do either of those things. Refusing to acknowledge the diversity of individuals within a social theory is an acceptance of ignorance, and proudly wearing the badge of “I couldn’t be bothered.”
Feminism advocates for equality and equity of all genders.
Man is a gender. Therefore, we advocate for your equality and equity as well. And remember, equal rights are not like pie. Just because we advocate for other groups that are lacking the fulfilment of their rights, does not meant that you are “losing” any.
Feminism endorses an authentic diversity, in the workplace and in personal life. Engineered diversity has become a result of the feminist movement, but it is not the intention. Having a diverse workforce only creates richer, more creative ideas for your business. If anything, feminism has your business’ best interests at heart by promoting a diverse workforce. Further, feminism pushes for more than just gender diversity but also racial, sexuality, religious, cultural, and disability diversity.
Being a feminist is the belief in equality, not “sameness.” Diversity and differences are meant to be valued. Each woman who walks on this earth carries with her a diverse and complex identity. That identity and its niches create a range of personalities. Each of those personalities are meant to be cherished and loved. Every woman is meant to be cherished and loved, and that also requires a dedication to defending her rights.
Do not let yourself fall victim to the false prophets of sexism and ignore the responsibilities you bear to ensure a fruitful garden.
But you do not tend to this garden alone.
There is a workforce of us standing ready with tools of shovels, trowels, and gardening shears. What might seem like a daunting task is made lighter with the hundreds of hands ready to tackle it with you.
When a flower grows alone in a pot, often times it will not bloom fully for it was not given proper space to grow.
So true as with people.
When you put them in an unpleasant, cramped space, often times they will not reach their full potential.
Cramped spaces come in many forms: workplace harassment; living in unsafe areas; uncertain definitions of “yes”; inappropriate comments; invalidation of experiences; unreliable access to basic needs (such as hygiene products); propping up false hopes; stereotyping; infighting; and a thousand other pests that eat away at the true beauty of diversity.
A garden cannot grow if the flowers turn against each other.