The following column by Tegan Morcott addresses issues involving gender equality, stereotypes, and the unique circumstance of growing up with brothers. Tegan introduces the idea of feminism and what it means to be a woman in 2017 in her introductory column that can be read here.
As a supplement to this article, Tegan Morcott discussed the ideas presented in her essay with Ms. Meaghan Laughlin, an English Teacher at LFHS who also has grown up in a household with all brothers. Listen as Laughlin and Morcott discuss the benefits the men in their lives have blessed them with in growing up as strong, passionate young women.
The hatred of men is often falsely associated with the feminist movement, just another myth that adds to the negative stigma often associated to feminists. That idea has always been hard for me to understand, considering my own stance on feminism, along with my love and respect for the male role models in my life, including my three brothers and father.
I sincerely believe that I wouldn’t be as strong in my own belief of feminism if it weren’t for the extensive influence the men in my life have had on me. From a young age, my brothers would always challenge me to constantly push myself, whether that was finding the most eggs on Easter or shooting the soccer ball from the farthest distance. As much as they would tease me that “I couldn’t do it because I was a girl,” they would never let me fall behind or just give up due to that reason. I was not allowed to settle for any reason, especially not because of my gender.
For example, when my family went on skiing trips, my brothers would tease me that girls were not as athletic and that I probably couldn’t keep up. But, when we reached the top of the mountain they expected me to go on the hardest slopes right by their sides and wouldn’t let me make an excuse that I couldn’t keep up.
I was their sister and a Morcott, which meant I was held to the same standard they expected from each other. This same push for excellence also led me to want to prove that I could do anything they could, especially if they joked that I couldn’t. I was as capable as they were, which I learned quickly, and pretty soon they did, too.
Most of all, though, my Dad has been my biggest supporter when it comes to feminism. Whether he’s claiming me as my family’s “best” athlete, defending my abilities to my brothers, or challenging me to voice my opinion in an intellectual, level-headed way, he has always encouraged me to be whoever I want to be, especially when I’m doubted due to my gender.
As much as feminism is a movement popularized mainly by females, it is backed by both strong men and women. Strong female roles are necessary for young women, but strong men who support and encourage young women are equally as vital. If young girls are reassured of their value and potential by both genders, they will in turn grow up bolstering their self-worth and confidence via the influence from both sexes and eventually demand it from all people.
Without male role models who support the feminist movement, young women almost exclusively receive validation from the females in their life, which is a great support system, yet, most of the inequality and sexism in our world today isn’t coming from feminist women. Feminist men are the ones setting examples for other young men on how to treat the opposite sex with respect, support, and equality, while establishing the standard for how a woman should expect to be treated by a man.
We are all shaped by culture, which is a facet of society, and society is made up of–you guessed it–everyday people like you and me, whether we like to admit it or not. So, with more people–of all genders–supporting the feminist movement, the more young women will believe in themselves and believe they deserve equal treatment and respect in our world today. Being an only girl has been one of the best experiences in my life and I’m grateful that I was able to learn so much from my brothers and my father.
Strength and respect can be learned from anyone; it doesn’t matter your gender or where you come from. It’s a humanitarian way of treatment and a common way of respect. We don’t have to agree with others to treat them the way we want to be treated.
Think about thisL If you had a sister or daughter, wouldn’t you want her to say how she became stronger because she watched you and listened to you tell her what she could become and the potential she had? Many of us treat our sisters and mothers like this, but the next step is to treat all women this way, all of the time.