Feminists – bra burning, man-haters or advocates for political and social equality?
In the past, many women proudly hailed to the feminist cause wearing the label like a badge of honor. It was the strength, courage and determination of these feminists that yielded women many basic rights that they had been previously denied, such as the right to vote.
Sadly, feminism, once a great and worthy cause, has evolved into a dirty word that many women avoid like the plague. The dreaded ‘F’ word has become synonymous with the idea of man-hating women who want to usurp power from men. In fact, the stereotypes that have taken hold are so pervasive within our culture that many women, who’s beliefs may be fundamentally feminist, are too afraid to call themselves feminists.
Even celebrities have been trying to distance themselves from the ‘F’ word:
“No, because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance.”
– Shailene Woodley
“I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture — beer, bars, and muscle cars.”
– Lady Gaga
Note: She later told the LA Times that she is a “little bit of a feminist.
Despite the misguided and stereotypical views of feminism, I have a confession to make. I. Am. A. Feminist.
No, I do not hate men, burn my bra, refuse to shave my legs or hail as a queen bitch. Though I am often too lazy to shave my legs, and am quite capable of invoking my bitchiness, that has nothing to do with feminism.
By definition, feminism is ‘the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.’
It does not mean that we believe women are better than men or deserve more than men. It simply means that we believe in equality – equal pay, equal rights, equal opportunities. How can that be a negative thing?
Okay, yes. There are some feminists who also happen to be misandrists, people who hate men. However, misandry and feminism are two different beliefs. In actuality, many feminists love men or are men. And we welcome feminist men in our ranks and love feminist men in our lives.
So while you do not have to identify as feminist or agree with feminism, you should not fear it. It is not a dirty word to be kept out of your vocabulary or distanced from your identity. It is a belief grounded in the fact that we are all human, worthy of the same rights and opportunities.
Some may think feminism is no longer needed. Women have the right to vote. They have the right to an education. And they are no longer expected to simply be housewives. They have a choice.
But there are still fewer women in positions of power. There is still a gap in wages earned by men and women who hold the same position. And there are still women across the globe who are striving to reach the level of autonomy that we have in our society. Women who are married off at young ages. Women who are denied education. Women who are shunned or tortured for rejecting marriage proposals. Women who need feminism.
So don’t fear the ‘F’ word. Embrace it. If you are a feminist, let your feminist flag fly high with honor and pride. I know I will.
What is feminism to you? Do you consider yourself a feminist?