By Makayla Sundquist
Oh no! I said it. The other “F” word. Right now, your blood is probably boiling. You clench your fists, as you begin to tell me, “Oh, I am most definitely NOT a feminist!” Slow down. Take a breath. I bet your idea of feminism is “feminazi women,” or the idea that all feminists are lesbians and man haters. While that can be true, (you do whatever you want girl), feminism is not defined by articles written by the Men’s Rights Activist Facebook page.
What is feminism?
This word is thrown around by people every day who do not understand what it means. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of feminism is, “The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” That’s it. Not, “We hate men,” or “Women are superior,” or “You cannot be a stay-at-home mom and be a feminist.” None of that. Simply…equality. Feminism is the idea that what is between your legs, or what gender you identify with inside your brain, is no limitation on the goals you can achieve.
In my personal belief, feminism is all about choice. I can choose to pursue a college degree. Choose to get married. Choose to be a career woman and decide whether or not to have children. That is the beauty of feminism. These life choices are not forced upon anyone, and both men and women can live outside gender norms. And, guess what?…
Feminism is great for men!
(I know, you’re shocked.) “Feminism?!” “For men??” Yep, you bet your buttons. Feminism has made great strides for men’s equality. Feminism has allowed men to live outside traditional stereotypes. Because feminists believe that women should be allowed to act in masculine ways, it follows that men should be allowed to act in feminine ways. Traditional gender roles and patriarchal thinking have boxed men into an emotionless void. A void which does not allow them to pursue pieces of themselves that lie outside the box. If a man is emotional, not interested in sports, and prefers traditionally feminine activities, he is weird and unwelcome in “man” (read macho, here) society. Not according to feminism.
Feminism is the belief that men can live any way they wish. This all leads back to the concept of choice. Men can choose to play football, take up ballet, or be a fashion designer and this can all be credited to feminism’s breaking down of gender barriers. Surprisingly, breaking down male gender barriers is also beneficial to women. By allowing men to become stay-at-home dads, and be nurturers, women can lead more traditionally masculine lives. It is important to illustrate to society that men are just as capable of being caretakers and women can “bring home the bacon.”
Not just one flavor.
A real big pet peeve of mine is the picture painted by the media that every feminist is hairy, likes flannels, and never wears makeup (Again, you go girl. I’m not judging). The concept of choice means that a feminist can look however they like. It is not against the rules of feminism that you shave your legs and wear makeup, or that you want to be a stay-at-home mom. Feminism means that you can choose to own your body and your life. If you don’t want to shave your body hair, then don’t! If you want to rock a mini skirt and a full smoky eye, then do it! That is the beauty of feminism. You can look however you please.
To me, feminism is about inclusivity. Every race, religion, sexual orientation, gender (or lack, thereof) is welcome. Sometimes the issues white women are battling become the sole focus of mainstream feminist media. That is a problem, and something I admit to doing as well. As a feminist, it is very important to fight for women’s issues across nationalities, ethnicities, and genders—All of them.
We still need it.
I think that U.S. society has come a long way. More women are in the work force, and they are pursuing careers that were traditionally dominated by men. Yet, we still have a long way to go. Remembering the 2016 election, news reporters commented on the outfits of Hilary Clinton more often than they commented on the killer debate she made. Female athletes’ bodies are critiqued more than their athletic performance. Did you know the reason that APA citations only use the first initial is because it is a way to stop gender discrimination? The thinking follows that, “Who would you trust more, a Steve, or a Sarah?” If your innate bias is to trust Steve more, then feminism is still needed.
I am gonna go out on a limb here, for a moment…
I bet you are a feminist. I bet that if you time traveled to the 1950’s you would be shocked and join the Women’s March the very next day. You mean you don’t want to wait on your husband hand and foot? You don’t want your only career to be a receptionist? You want the ability to go to college and become a chemist?
Then start marching. The women of the past led the charge for the women of today. We need to continue in their footsteps. Footsteps that include. Footsteps that choose. Footsteps that speak their truths and are not afraid to do so.
So yes, I am a feminist. It’s my second favorite “F” word.