If you google feminism, the first thing that comes up is a dictionary definition that states the word as being a noun defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
But drifting away from the technical definition, a very true and moving explanation I found states, “the basic idea of feminism revolves around the principle that just because human bodies are designed to perform certain procreative functions, biological elements need not dictate intellectual and social functions, capabilities, and rights.” This is a definition that I hadn’t seen before and one that I find to be the most meaningful of all that I have read. There are a vast number of opinions concerning feminism in the world, but what many people seem to get wrong about this simple three-syllable word is that it shouldn’t carry a negative connotation like it does in many situations.The feminist movement isn’t as Pat Robertson, a television evangelist and former Baptist minister, is quoted for saying during his GOP convention speech in 1992. He claimed that “the feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women, it is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” Although I’m sure he’s not the only person to have this view, it shouldn’t cast a dark shadow on the true feminists of our generation and those before us. Feminism is about equality and better lives for women, not about female dominance and wanted to essentially “dethrone” all men. In all reality, there are men who consider themselves to be feminists. This doesn’t make them less masculine, it simply makes them conscious and aware that women around them are striving to achieve the same rights and equalities as they have. The stereotypes about feminists are immeasurable and vary from them being man haters, to being unattractive, to even hating sex. Contrary to popular opinion, if a woman considers herself a feminist, this does not mean she’s horrible in bed or that she hates men so much that she’s become a lesbian. All of these falsities are what draws such negativity towards the term and leads people to believe it should be shameful to be considered a feminist.
When someone mentions the word “feminism,” the first thought that should come to our minds are the brave women involved in the Women’s Liberation Movement which started in the 60s. These women fought to give the women of our generation many rights that we take for granted. Without delving deeper into a history book, it may not be known that women weren’t always as successful on the same levels as their male counterparts. Since this generation is more inclined to collect their facts and figures from the media rather than books, the negative stigma may also be partly due to those who speak adversely about feminism publicly. One example is from 2004, when the conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh popularized the term “feminazi,” arguing that feminists’ views towards abortion are comparable to atrocities committed by the Nazis.
Although Limbaugh has the right to share his opinion, it shouldn’t be the only opinion widely dispersed. It befuddles me that so many people believe everything they see on television or read online. What happened to the days of picking up a book and turning the pages?
It is my resilient opinion that we should revert to the dictionary definition of feminism for what it truly stands for. We shouldn’t let those who speak poorly of the topic dictate how it is viewed across today’s society. There are so many intelligent and strong women who refuse to identify as a feminist simply because those who don’t truly understand it have tarnished the word. Just as silver can be polished, so can the very meaning behind feminism and it’s up to all of us together to change how people view feminists globally.