By Maggie C.
Equality. Feminism is about equality. Feminism is about bridging the wage gap. Feminism is about allowing women and men alike to be themselves. For some odd reason though, feminism is being received negatively by society. The idea that feminists are butch, man-hating women who want nothing but to take men down and take over the world needs to be eradicated. Yes, there are extremists, but there are in every movement, and frankly, I do not think that feminism should even be a movement anymore. We deserve equality.
Feminism is often confused with the concept of misandry. Misandry is man-hating by women, as misogyny is woman-hating by men. Feminism and misandry are two very different things, and that is something very important for the general public to realize. Feminism is about having solidarity for all of the genders, abolishing discrimination, wage gaps, and gender inferiority. Misandry is about blaming men for everything.
I take anyone’s criticism of feminism personally. How dare anyone try to limit my and many other young women’s dreams and aspirations simply because we do not have a Y chromosome? Anti-feminist women, why are you not fighting? Because you are content with all of the rights you already have? Newsflash: Without feminism, those rights would be nonexistent. You would merely be your husband’s property, a decorative piece in his dollhouse. Feminism is not just about escaping this realm of inferiority that has been imposed upon us; it is about having the opportunity to be who you are without judgment as a man or woman. If you are a woman and want to be a stay at home mom, go for it. If you are a man and want to be a stay at home dad, do as you please. Feminism is about having that choice regardless of gender; it does not solely apply to women. Shocking, isn’t it?
Being anything but a feminist means that you do not support the right for a young girl in Yemen to go to school without fear of being shot; that you do not support the equally qualified woman whom is getting paid less than a man to do the same job; that you do not support the little girl fighting the “like a girl” attitude; that you do not support girls from all over the world in their development and their desire to succeed as an engineer, a president, a doctor, a scientist, a mother, or a wife. Not supporting feminism is not supporting women and girls in developing into their own person.
Many people hate on feminism because the word has negative connotations. We need to forget about that. In Emma Watson’s speech on feminism at the UN summit, she said, “It is not the word that is important, but the idea and the ambition behind it.” Imagine that there is no word for feminism, but simply a definition. If you were told that you could back a movement that was about achieving gender equality, you would, right? So why is a simple word stopping you? Wake up people; it is 2015 and women are still paid less than men, called bossy for being leaders, and scrutinized for their sexual tendencies.
Feminism is not only about fighting for girl’s rights, though. It is about giving our sons and brothers and husbands a right to have feelings without losing their masculinity. It is about letting them be a stay at home dad because they want to spend time with their kids. It is about letting them play sports like field hockey because that is what they want to do. I do not know if anyone has ever considered this, but have we ever stopped to think that maybe the reason men do not ask for help or for directions is because they fear they will no longer be considered “macho?” We have an ideal for men just as we do women, and these strict standards just aren’t cutting it anymore.
Malala Yousafzai is a 17-year old girl from Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban while on her way to school. As you can imagine, Yousafzai is a strong advocate for women’s rights and she won the first ever Nobel Youth Peace Prize in 2014. Be like Malala and make it so that girls all over the world have nothing to fear when getting on the bus to go to school simply through your support of feminism. Be like Malala and let men and women alike become their own person.
The fact that being told that you do something “like a girl” is an insult is a very scary and disheartening thing. I want to be part of something that changes that; something that allows for girls and boys to be whom they want to be without judgment or restriction. The first step to change is by joining the movement and adopting the feminist attitude. That does not mean to stop holding the door open for women, but holding it open for men too as an act of common courtesy. It means treating your peers or bosses with equal amounts of respect, regardless of gender. Join me by taking this first step and let girls and boys all over the world thrive.