Here is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately and it has been confusing me somewhat. We live in the day and age where women’s rights are advocated so much. I mean, we recently celebrated an International Women’s Day. For as long as I can remember, women have been fighting for freedom and recognition. From women like Rosa Parks, to those South African women who marched the streets chanting “Wathint' Abafazi Wathint' Imbokodo!”(You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock!), to the simple women who have carried the fight in their own small worlds, the battle for acceptance and freedom has been notable. Now, thanks to the efforts of those brave women, women are allowed to vote, are accepted in the workforce and have much more freedom than in the past. So, one would expect that today’s modern woman would embrace the freedom she has been given and that has cost so much to those who fought for it, right? But, do you know what I see? Sadly, the ‘freer’ today’s woman is becoming more and more oppressed and led.
Even the most zealous feminist finds herself paging through the magazine, eagerly seeking someone to decide for her what is in fashion that season, so she can follow someone’s taste without question. And should the skirt be slightly too short for comfort, she’ll quickly push it to the back of her mind, because it is, after all, the in thing. Says who? The competitive designers after her money? If my concern about women making their own decisions was limited to skirts and scarves and hairstyles, I would perhaps skip this blog. But, fact is, women are throwing their power to choose on life altering issues like choosing to wait to have sex until after marriage, or getting married instead of living together, or choosing between what’s best for their children and a career. Women are killing themselves with anorexia and bulimia to achieve the size decided by magazines and the fashion industry to be ideal. Today’s women are constantly being told by someone else what is or isn’t acceptable, what is or isn’t beautiful and the sad thing is, they follow without question, without stopping to examine whether or not that is the choice they would make for themselves. What about the freedom of choice?
Young girls give in to peer pressure at school, because they are afraid to stand up for what they believe in. What good is it to have freedom on paper, but do nothing with it? I understand how intimidating and lonely it can be for a young girl to go against her entire group of friends and refuse to have sex before marriage, because she believes it to be the right thing for her, especially when they believe it to be old fashioned and out of touch with reality. It takes strength and character to be able to go against a crowd of people. But, isn’t that what the Rosa Parks of this world did? They stood alone against the crowd. They would not accept oppression, no matter what the cost. I read somewhere that you should be the difference you want to see in the world. In other words, if you value waiting for marriage, the difference in this world begins with you having the courage to wait, come what may.
And, what I notice about the things we are most afraid of is, once we face them, we realize that they weren’t as big a deal as we thought they would be. So, you will find that when you stand up for yourself, it isn’t as lonely and as scary as you thought it would be, and you will also find that by doing so, you are gaining the respect of your peers. You are teaching them how to treat you. They might not always agree with you, but they will learn that you are someone who stands up for herself, and they will give you the respect due to you. I just think that a great price was paid for us to be free and we shouldn’t waste the opportunity. We need to make the most of our freedom!