I was chatting with a guy the other day about politics. We were discussing the merits of Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders and eventually the topic shifted to feminism.
“Peter*, are you a feminist?” I asked, ready for disappointment.
“No,” he said. Unsurprised, I prepared for a session of mansplaining, but little did I know, he wasn’t finished.
“I mean, I don’t really know what it is,” he continued. My heart jumped and my eyes were as large as sunflowers. Shaking with anticipation, I rattled off the basic dictionary definition of feminism. After a century of contemplation (or several seconds, time is really just a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff), I received my highly anticipated response.
“Yah, I guess I am a feminist.”
Internally, I was throwing a party bigger than Kylie Jenner’s 18th birthday bash. Feminism hasn’t exactly made its mark in my small, southern town- particularly among the gents. This was quite the surprise, but one of the good ones. Like when your parents tell you you’re going to Disney World. Unfortunately, my extravaganza was cut short. You know what they say- “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Oh, how it was.
“Just don’t, you know, tell any of the guys, ok?” Peter asked nervously. My heart sunk just the tiniest bit. I confirmed that I would not share this horrid secret, just as the bell rang. The conversation was over, but my thought process was not. I channeled my inner Sherlock Holmes in hopes of finding a justification for why anyone might possibly be ashamed of being a feminist. It didn’t take long before I had my deduction. I left my mind palace and swiftly sat down to chronicle my observations. Behold my findings.
the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes*
The definition is rather straightforward and personally, a no-brainer. So, why are so many people offended by this simple noun?
Sexism is ingrained into our lives on a daily basis. Whether it be advertisements, rape jokes, or the wage gap, women experience sexism that is so thoroughly embedded into our culture that sometimes, we don’t even realize it. Jokes aren’t jokes when they degrade a people group, and ads shouldn’t be accepted when they objectify women. Alas, you are almost guaranteed to find a misogynistic promotion when flipping through a magazine or the television channels. This ingrained sexism contributes to the hatred of the term ‘feminist’ in several ways.
- Women are still perceived as objects by the media. When that ideal is challenged, people aren’t happy. Some just don’t like it when women are more than their bodies. Thanks to the portrayal of females in media, people are shocked when we do crazy things such as, oh I don’t know… simply speaking our minds!
- Occasionally, people really just don’t believe in equality. Some might say that they do, but when it comes down to it, they don’t. This is clearly visible in the ongoing belief that women belong in the home. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom. In fact, it’s great! However, when people continue to believe that domestic duties are all that women are capable of, there’s a bit of a problem. Feminism fights that misogynistic ideal by empowering women to do what they want to do- be it taking care of their children or leading our nation.
- Association with anything feminine is scoffed at. Men constantly laugh at our UGG’s, makeup, and Starbucks. Do any of those things cause harm? No. Do some women enjoy them? Yes. Do some women not? Yes! A woman appreciating a killer contour doesn’t make her silly or vapid. The sharpness of a woman’s eyeliner does not define the sharpness of her mind. So, why are ladies attacked incessantly for enjoying things considered to be feminine? These things are doing no damage and yet we are repeatedly ridiculed for our enjoyment of them. Feminism is much the same. This movement is associated with women and as such, constantly mocked.
Ingrained sexism is expressed in far more ways than those listed above and it impacts women in far too many ways to list in this brief blog post. However, that is not the sole reason feminism is ridiculed. Men tend to not take women seriously, blaming any contradictory ideas on hormones and periods. Therefore, feminism is not taken seriously. This is not just a group of whiny, hormonal girls who want to complain about anything and everything. Feminists merely address the problems affecting women and minorities while attempting to resolve them.
If you believe that men and women have equal rights, and then someone asks you if you are a feminist, you have to say yes. Because that’s how words work. You can’t be like,
“Yeah, I’m a doctor who primarily does diseases of the skin.”
“Oh, so you’re a dermatologist?”
“Oh that’s way too aggressive of a word, not at all, not at all.”
Aziz makes an incredible point with this quote. If you believe in equality, you are a feminist. Yes, some people do/say things in the name of feminism that are not truly what feminists believe in. Just as not all Christians are members of the Ku Klux Klan, not all feminists are evil, man-hating witches (in fact, very few are). Individuals do things while using a title or a movement, but oftentimes, they do not speak for all members of that group. Just keep in mind: feminism ≠ misandry
It should not be disgraceful to be a feminist. It should be worn as a badge of honor. Ladies and gentlemen, embrace the cause. Don’t shy away from this movement in fear of the opinions of others. I believe in the social, political, and economic equality of all. I am a feminist. I am unashamed and I am ready to get to work.
*name changed for privacy