There is a stigma in the world that feminism is a bad thing. For some people, it’s the real F-word. For me, it’s just who I am and who I think most people would find themselves to be if they took the time to understand the term.
Let’s dissect this:
Merriam-Webster defines FEMINISM as…
First off, men and women can be feminists. All it means to be a feminist is that you support equal rights for men and women and believe that gender should not be a determining factor in what gives a person their rights.
Feminists come in all shapes and sizes. The media tends to confuse feminism with misandry, or the hatred of men, and this, it is not. Personally, I don’t know where this stereotype comes from; I have yet to meet a feminist that hates men. I do know that the main manifestation of feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights. Why? Because whether you’d like to admit it to yourself or not, women are NOT equal to men, even in the Western World.
Feminism is also a turn off for many straight women because they fear other people will think they are homosexual. I have two things to say about this: 1) Not all feminists are lesbians and 2) Do you really care about what people think of you more than you care about equal rights between genders? Fun fact: the original Women’s Lib Movement in the United States actually rejected lesbians from joining their cause. These women, Betty Friedan (author the The Feminine Mystique) specifically, pushed lesbians out of the movement. Today, the awesome thing is that the feminist movement has moved passed these intersectionality issues. The movement now sees membership of both men and women of all race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
So first: Why am I a feminist? I don’t know. I really wish I could tell you when it started but I’m afraid I’d have to pull my parents into the room and introduce them to my blog and that would just be awkward for everyone involved. It’s kind of just always been my thing. I’m known as a feminist and an activist by friends and family and even people that barely know me. I grew up in a house where I was taught to value the things I was given and how comfortably we lived and still live but to do so understanding that because I was given these things I also have a social responsibility to the world to use my education and voice to make change. My dad works in Politics and my mom is a nurse that specializes in medical law. So maybe that has something to do with where it came from?
But why has it continued? It has continued because as I grew up I read a lot. Like, a lot A LOT. And when I wasn’t reading, I volunteered, first locally, then I began working with NGOs globally. This is fun for me. I’ve always been a passionate person and I won’t apologize for that. I can’t help it. My mom always tells me that she regrets ever allowing my eyes to open (she means figuratively) because she knows they can never be shut now. What she means is once I realized how bad it was for some people in the world, especially women, I can’t shut up about it. I’m sensitive to the way media portrays women and I often correct people, even friends and family, and I think it embarrasses the company I keep. But I think it’s important to speak up. And if you think your words don’t matter and your voice isn’t heard, you’re wrong.
“A man goes out on the beach and sees that it is covered with starfish that have washed up with the tide. A little boy is walking along, picking them up and throwing them back into the water. ‘What are you doing, son?’ the man asked. ‘You see how many starfish there are? You’ll never make a difference.’ The boy paused thoughtfully, and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean. ‘It sure made a difference to that one,’ he said.”
But you don’t have to be super passionate like me to be a feminist. Like I said, just believing that men and women should be equal is enough to do that. And for those of you who say that men and women are equal, here are a few statistics to prove you wrong:
So we have a problem in this country, and it is bad. But what about other countries?
Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. It’s not pleasant to think about and it’s not okay, but you can help. How?
An amazing theory though is this thing known as the girl effect. The girl effect says that empowering women can actually aid countries in development. Women are more likely to share their wealth by educating their children and providing loans to other women within their communities. So really, in my thinking, if you help a girl, you’re helping to save the world.
First, educate yourself. Read current events on the atrocities committed to women in your country and others. We cannot change what we do not acknowledge.
If you’re looking for a good place to start, I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorite feminist education resources:
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio
Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem
Fire With Fire: The New Female Power And How It Will Change the 21st Century by Naomi Wold
Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists by Courtney E. Martin (she is flawless and anything by her is worth the read!)
A few tips to becoming a feminist:
I know this is preachy and I’m sure there are a bunch of you who haven’t even made it this far in my diatribe but I also hope there a few of you I’ve changed. Despite what people believe, I like to think I was born into an AMAZINGLY POWERFUL generation that has the most ridiculous capacity for change. It’s good to think about this stuff and if you want to make a change, it’s even better to stand up and speak out.