“So... if you’re a feminist... don’t you like... uh... hate men?”
I just can’t help but exhale a sigh of disappointment whenever I hear someone regard a feminist as a ‘man hater.’ Social media is the largest contribution to the destruction of this powerful word. According to Roxane Gay and her article “Bad Feminist,” ‘real’ feminism is seen as “anger, humorlessness, militancy, unwavering principles, and a prescribed set of rules for how to be a proper feminist woman, or at least a proper white, heterosexual, feminist women—hate pornography, unilaterally decry the objectification of women, don’t cater to the male gaze, hate men, hate sex, focus on career, don’t shave.”
Since the 1900s, women have been fighting to expand their rights in all aspects of life, yet our roles seem to be confined to cooking, cleaning, having children and catering to our spouse. If you are one of those brave enough to break societal norms and believe in more for women, then damn, you’ve got a scarlet letter plastered on your clothes, and you are nothing more than a ‘bad feminist.’
The misconstructed idea of feminism is now what many individuals refer to as the true, raw definition. I walked through my dorm, stopped and asked someone, “What’s feminism?” The responses I got varied in depth, but each had one main idea: feminism is the practice of being “pro-woman.” These are responses from well-educated, 19-year-old individuals who have taken classes that speak on behalf of women's rights. We have allowed social media to become our baseline for world events, even though the bias that lies in media consumes the real truth entirely.
In 2018, CBS News released a poll that found 46 percent of American women aged 18-35 identified as feminists, while only 34 percent of women over the age of 35 identifying the same way. Twenty three percent of men identified as feminists. Many women are afraid to place themselves into this category; you move into a vulnerable phase, it’s like walking onto a stage naked.
There is a real meaning of feminism. It’s clear: equality. Equality among everyone; man, woman and all other genders. If only this meaning were advertised in the media. I wonder what would happen to the percentage of people identifying as a feminist if they knew they were claiming they are all for equality between everyone.
There is some good news, however. There’s a magnitude of individuals fighting for the right kind of feminism. Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo Movement, is influencing victims of sexual assault and harassment everywhere. Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, has made countless efforts in fighting anti-black racism. Beyonce created her album “Lemonade” as a tribute to women of color around the world. Hillary Clinton was the first female to become the presidential nominee for a major political party, and has worked effortlessly to fight for women's rights. Oprah Winfrey has made a tremendous impact in efforts to end unequal pay and empowerment for women of color. Ruth Bader Ginsburg uses her intelligence and legal skills every day to fight for equality in the courtroom.
The core of feminism is equality, and nothing more. Women want rights for everyone, and in a world full of crime and discrimination, we need strong feminists to lead us to equality. As Clara Perron, a senior English major and Women's Studies minor says, “feminists promote evolution, pushing humanity onward and upward towards remodeling society into a more equal and just world for all individuals.” Women are beginning to hold more seats in Congress, obtaining 23.4 percent of the total spots in the U.S House of Representatives. These strong, feminist women fight for social justice, equality among sexes, an end to sexual harassment and violence, closure of the wage gap, and so many other broad issues. There is no desire to get ahead of men in any of these situations, just to get on the same level, and maybe earn some respect along the way.
“Picture a judicial scale with one side holding the privileges and powers of men, while the other side holds the privileges and powers of women. Of course, the scale is unequal, with the man’s side weighing more. Yet if I wanted to make it equal, would I have to take away the powers and privileges on the man’s side? No. I could just add more privileges and powers to the woman’s side” says Clara Perron.
Women are reprimanded for desiring equality among the sexes, even though there is no logical reason as to why in the twenty-first century women can’t make the same amount of money or work in governmental offices. Women fighting for more rights does not take anything away from men, but rather builds on to the little that woman already have. Every inch of this world is consumed with discrimination, and the need for feminism is stronger than ever. Regardless if women are perceived as bad feminists or good ones, it's better to have them than to experience a world dominated by discrimination against the sexes.