17/10/2013 10:39 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Feminism: What It's Taught Me

I am proud to call myself a feminist. I support a movement that works tirelessly to make sure that men and women are treated equally in all situations.

I need feminism because women are not here to be objectified - we have a right to do anything we want without being told it's not the 'right thing' for our gender.

The sad fact is that many women are afraid to call themselves or define themselves as a feminist due to the alleged social stigma. I believe that this is an example of how influential patriarchy remains within society. Feminists are not 'man-hating' and 'un-feminine' - to be quite frank, I'm sick of these uneducated assumptions.

I started defining myself with this controversial label in my second year of University and I've never looked back. Meeting like-minded women and men was such a liberating experience and it really gave me the opportunity to find myself: you'll have to excuse this cliché. I chose to run for Women's Representative towards the end of my second year, I was elected in the March of 2012. The election period was an eye opener, it's a difficult learning curve as you're criticised and questioned continuously. During my post, I learnt that you will always face public and private critique; it's your job to face it head-on, as calmly as you possibly can and remember that it is your right to challenge sexist ignorance.

Returning solely to the subject of Feminism, there's something I need to point out, it is a collective movement but it doesn't mean you're pigeonholed in your views, you are allowed to be individualistic.

The critics of feminism who say equality has already been achieved are extremely frustrating but they prompt me to keep pushing forward, to challenge sexist norms. Someone once said to me: "why not just change the name of the belief?" - I despair at this idea. Feminism should never ever change its name; it's our duty as the next generation to carry it on, if anything, as a mark of respect for the campaigners before us such as Emily Davison and the Pankhursts. Feminism does not need rebranding, it's not supposed to be a pastime you indulge in with a cup of tea and a biscuit, it's an on-going pro-active attempt and a continually evolving fight to change the sexist seams of society and all of its sub-sections.

I'll finish on this, regardless of the antipathy, the dirty looks, the verbal aggression and downright rudeness I've experienced off some detractors the efforts of like-minded individuals always outweighs negativity. Feminism has taught me that you should always stand up for what you believe in, to hold your own and most of all, to never be afraid of speaking out. A woman's place in my view is where she wants to be; this choice should never be denied.

In the words of American feminist, author and activist Bell Hooks' book, 'Feminism is for everyone': "Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression." - how can you be against this?