Growing up in the 90’s, I remember when “feminism” became a dirty word. It became a normal question to ask a female if she was a feminist. I was taught that a feminist was a butch, man-hating lesbian with hairy legs and armpits who was devoid of a sense of humor and full of irrational rage. Pat Robertson famously said that feminism “encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”
I was REALLY into science & math as a kid, but I was also a girly girl growing up, and there was a large period of time in my youth when I didn’t consider myself a feminist. Looking back, this seems completely absurd to me. How could I not be a feminist? I’m a woman & I definitely believe that I’m equal to men. How could anyone not be a feminist? If anyone thinks that women and men should be equal and be given equal opportunities, that automatically makes them a feminist, right?
A few months ago UN Ambassador & Harry Potter star, Emma Watson, gave her very impassioned speech at the launch of the HeforShe campaign. Her speech talked about
the gender inequality that still exists, but in a new spin, the campaign asked men to step up and stand up for women’s rights. I was really compelled by her speech and the goals behind this campaign. You see, I am the mother of 3 little boys and I’m bringing them up in a world where gender equality is still a major issue. More than 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs are men. Women still get paid 77 cents on the dollar of what men make. Women hold less than 25% of STEM jobs. Women who do enter STEM fields are 45% more likely than men to leave the field within a year due to
You see, I am the mother of 3 little boys and I’m bringing them up in a world where gender equality is still a major issue. More than 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs are men. Women still get paid 77 cents on the dollar of what men make. Women hold less than 25% of STEM jobs. Women who do enter STEM fields are 45% more likely than men to leave the field within a year due to factor such as lack of female mentors, biased evaluations, lack of sponsors, and a lack of flexible work arrangements.
These are all incredibly disturbing figures! After Emma’s speech, I realized that my job as a mother of boys is just as important as and difficult as mothers of girls. I have to teach my boys that the status quo is not right. I need to show them how to be a part of the solution. I need to lead by example to show them how strong and capable women are in the workforce. I also realized that I need to grow my company so we can affect more kids out there and give them a new perspective on what it means to be a girl or be a boy.
Svaha has been in the public eye since our successful Kickstarter in June of 2015. Since then, we’ve had a lot of people who are passionately supportive of what we are doing and “get it”. We’ve also had others write to us who really didn’t understand why we believe our mission is important. We have been told that boys & girls are naturally different and that we’re trying to “destroy family values.” There have been no accusations that we are promoting of witchcraft yet, but we are in support of Emma Watson’s mission, so we might get accused of promoting wizardry soon! So why are we doing this? Why do we think that our little company can change the world?
Research has shown that babies can detect male faces versus female faces starting during their first year of life, however, it’s not until around 3 or 4 when kids really start to understand what being a boy versus a girl is. They pick up on queues in our society and they test their gender roles through play. At Svaha, we firmly believe that clothes play a huge role in how children perceive gender roles. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that science-themed shirts are completely unavailable for girls in stores and only 25% of STEM jobs are held by women.
Girls & boys are taught from a young age what they “should” like. If we want to bridge this gap, we need STEAM apparel to be available for boys and girls so we can encourage a passion for it. We need sports-themed apparel to be available for girls so we teach children that female athletes are just as valuable as male athletes. We need to not have certain colors that only females are allowed to like, because. . .well because it's just weird. We need to create societal queues for our kids that promote a fair and balanced landscape for boys and girls. We need our future generation to be feminists so that we can overcome this incredibly unfair gender divide. We think it’s time for us all to stand up and say proudly that we are feminists. Teach your sons and daughters that they should be feminists too. The world needs to change and making the change is completely possible if we stand together to do it. We encourage you to join with Svaha to help us start a revolution, one t-shirt at a time and to join the HeforShe campaign to take a stand for gender equality!
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