“I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminist. Could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?” —Ellen Page
I realize that “feminism” is a scary word for people. (I may even lose some readers just from the very title of this blog post.) In fact, it’s taken me a long time to write it just because I have been afraid of how people will respond…
But it’s important. It’s actually so important.
I have spent the last year talking about traumatic events from my past for the first time ever. While this has been an insanely difficult step to take, I have slowly realized how much bigger this is than just me. Many of my personal issues can be broken down to women’s rights and gender inequality. The traumas of my life are actually the traumas of women.
If you met me 5 years ago, I never would have said I was a feminist. It took a patient friend sitting down with me and explaining each reason why we should all be feminists. (Thanks Zoe P!) 5 years ago, I thought being a feminist meant that you didn’t shave your armpits and you never got married. It meant you didn’t want to have kids and you hated men. What I didn’t understand about feminism is largely due to the way that it is portrayed in the media, along with body image, gender roles, to name a few.
But that’s just it. I was wrong because the world taught me otherwise. Feminism means you can choose whether or not to shave, because it’s your body. Feminism means you can get married because you want to, or not get married because you don’t have to. Feminism means you can have all the kids you want, or never have any at all. Because it’s your life. And it’s your body. And nobody else can tell you how to use it.
Our biggest problem is that, like every other piece of HIStory, women are not defining their own stories: Don’t let men who hate women define feminism as women who hate men. That’s not what it is! Feminism is a movement for equal rights. And it’s about women having the same rights as men.
And for every man reading this who is still upset that it’s called feminism and not humanism or equalism, let me break it down for you:
First of all, for everyone who says “I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist…”
Not only does this take away from the fact that feminism is a movement for women to gain equal rights, humanism actually refers to anyone who commits their beliefs to science, and rejects the idea of a divine or supernatural power responsible for our existence. So it’s a mischaracterization.
And OK, I see what you’re trying to say… Human Rights. Not just women’s. But that would be to deny that there is a specific, particular issue worth fighting for. Sure there are human rights to fight for, but women's rights is another part of that, a section which some of us are affected by more than others.
And for those who argue it should be called “equalism…”
Again, you’re forgetting that this is a movement that started with women to gain the same rights as men… In other words, for women to gain the rights that men already have just for being men. For example: The 19th Amendment, giving all women the right to vote. Yeah, this was in 1920, but America was founded in 1776. That’s almost 150 years before people were like, “Sure, I guess women have thoughts in their heads too!”
Feminism is for every girl who was raped or sexually assaulted before their 24th birthday. 1 in every 4 women. That could be your wife, sister, daughter, mother… pick one. This is where you jump on the bandwagon, dudes.
Feminism is for every woman who gets paid $0.79 for every $1.00 her male coworker makes.
Feminism is for the 70% of rape victims who were sexually assaulted by their significant other or friend, so nobody believes that it was rape.
Feminism is for every time they ask you, “Well, were you drinking?”
Feminism is for the 20 million women and children who are bought and sold worldwide in sex trafficking.
The list goes on. It's time to understand that feminism is called feminism because women are struggling to survive.
“My own definition of a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie