When you hear the word “feminist”, do images of bitchy, Amazonian-type women with tons of body hair and a vendetta against men pop into your brain? Are you afraid to refer to yourself as a “feminist” even though you are in fact a woman (or a man that believes in equality)? If so, you’re not alone. However, you do have a pretty skewed idea of what a feminist actually is. This is not meant in an accusatory way; it’s a popular opinion that the word “feminist” should actually be banned. Why are people so afraid of this word?
The dictionary definition of feminism is this: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
Equality. To be equal to. Not to be above, not to be below, but equal.
Your average feminist wants women to be paid the same as their male counterparts in the workplace. The average feminist wants the same opportunities afforded to women that are given freely to men. The average feminist wants girls and boys alike to be taught “rape is wrong; do not rape” as opposed to “ladies: here are ways to avoid the inevitable rape in your future.”
The problem with how society today views feminists stems from extremists as well as ignorance. There are extremists in every place where there is an opinion. Christians, Muslims, pro-life advocates, pro-choice supporters, and members of literally every political party have at some point in their histories been looked down on by society as being “too this” or “too that”, “too violent”, “too radical”, asking for “too much.”
There are those who insist that women are better than men. There are those who insist that men are unneeded. These women do not want equality, thus they are not feminists.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are women who ask for “equal” treatment, yet expect special privileges. These women unfortunately just flip the double-standard around, insisting that they want equal pay, yet the man should still pick up the check on a date every time. Or that they don’t need to hold the door open for men, but it’s rude when her chair isn’t pulled out for her.
It’s a fact that where there is an opinion, there will be differences. It is also a fact that women are different from men, just as there is a difference between races, a difference between religions, and a difference between any group of people you could possibly compare. Although there is a distinction between men and women (and that distinction should be acknowledged), that does not mean one gender should be allowed less freedom in the way of economics, politics, or society in general.
Once again, feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
Now that we have established what a feminist really is, I’m sure we can all take a step back and realize that it’s okay to call yourself a feminist without covering it up with “but not like those feminists.” Rest-assured friends, being a feminist doesn’t mean what you thought it meant.