There it is, the "F" word...Feminism *shudder*; it's a movement that far too many men, and yes, even women, tend to cringe and automatically criticize at the thought of.There seems to be this ever so common misconception that all Feminism really is is a group of angry, men-hating, bra-burning, body-hair-growing women on a rampage to be superior to male race; but actually, that's not what Feminism is about. Sure, some may openly admit that they hate men, but that's an entirely different entity, and sure, tearing down the patriarchy might have a little something to do with it, but we don't have weekly meetings where we place hexes on those who have crossed us, or burn our bras because we feel like it (honesty, I don't see why someone would actually burn their bra...they're too expensive for that kind of behavior). And we don't take a look at our body hair with razor in-hand and say, "I don't feel like shaving because it'll gross men out and that's what I want." What?! How could that be? I know, it's wild to think that all of that isn't what it's really about. To put it simply, and contrary to popular belief, Feminism is about equality. For anyone who is confused, let me give you some examples of why the Feminist movement exists and how it's about equality.
1. Free the Nipple
I think it's safe to say that almost everyone has seen this photo (or something like it) when the topic of Free the Nipple (FTN) comes up. For those of you who are unfamiliar with FTN, it is a movement to uncensor the female nipple and to desexualize the female body. The common misconception is that this movement is just an excuse for women to walk around topless, basically making it an open invitation for men to objectify them so they can get angry. The reality is that it's the total opposite. If a woman walks around topless and a man cat-calls her or verbally and physically objectifies her, he is proving why we need the FTN movement. If men can walk around shirtless without people looking at their nipples and losing their minds, women should be able to do the same. By looking at the photo above, you can see that both the male and female breast are made up of the same contents. That being said, there should be no reason to sexualize the female breast.
2. Pay Gap
This is something that is becoming a more and more talked about issue, and rightfully so. For jobs that women are equally as qualified as men, they are making 89 cents for every one dollar a man makes. Women of color make even less than that per dollar. That is absolutely outrageous. There is no reason that a woman, of any race, ethnicity, etc, should make any less than a man if they hold the same position and are equally as qualified. This chart, which is fairly recent, gives a great example of how much less women are making in comparison to men. We aren't asking to make more then men so they can slowly lose their jobs and become stay-at-home dads (God forbid a woman doesn't stay home in the kitchen, "where she belongs!"). We're just asking for equal pay, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Yes, the Pink Tax is a real thing and it's terrible. Currently, out of 50 states, there are only three that do not have the Pink Tax on tampons and two that do not have sales tax; the rest all have an additional tax on tampons...a product that all women need every single month from the time they are about 13 until they are about 50. How is it fair that this necessity gets an additional tax? How is it fair that our deodorant is almost four dollars more than mens'? How is it fair that our razors are sometimes more than a few cents different from mens', that sometimes they are two or three dollars more, when we have more to shave more often? Sure, a few dollars doesn't sound like that big of a difference, but when you realize how often we are using and going threw these every day products, those dollars add up. (Maybe now you understand why some women choose not to shave often/at all). Deodorant is deodorant. Razors are Razors. Whether it's for a man or a woman, they do the same thing. Why should one be more expensive than the other?
4. Dress Codes
This video is one that has been in the forefront lately. Kaitlyn Juvik, a high school senior, was called into the principle's office for a dress code violation. What was that violation? Not wearing a bra. Why was this a violation? Because it made a faculty member uncomfortable. Kaitlyn explains that she had no reason to be spoken to about this because it is her natural body and as long as she is covered up, she is not being inappropriate. She is 100% correct. If someone doesn't want to wear a bra, it is not up to someone else to decide if they get to do that or not. Cat calling makes people uncomfortable but that doesn't seem to be as big of an issue as not wearing a bra!! But it doesn't stop there! Young girls get criticized for dress code regulations at just about every school. They are not allowed to "show too much skin," meaning they usually cannot show most of their shoulders, cannot have a dress or shorts that is shorter than their finger-tips against their legs, and their bra/bra straps cannot be visible. Oh no! God forbid everyone finds out that a teenage girl is wearing a bra! What a sin! No, it's not. It's completely normal and goes back to how the female body gets overly sexualized. Sorry, but I really don't think a boy is going to wreck his pants because he saw a girl's shoulder. Boys don't ever get pulled aside and told to change because their clothes are distracting. There is a level of appropriate clothing for school, but the line is crossed when you direct it at young girls and accuse them of being distracting, when really it's just teaching kids to continue objectifying and sexualizing the female body.
5. Women's Suffrage
This is something that shouldn't need any futher explaination, but I'll continue anyway. The fact that women actually had to fight for their right to vote, is enough of a reason why we need Feminism, and further proves that it has been about equality from the start. Why should only men have the right to vote? Everyone who is a human being should be allowed to vote and have a say in government, or whatever it is that is being voted upon. A male is a human being, with skin, and bones, and a heart. A woman is a human being, with skin, and bones, and a heart. The only difference is their sex/gender. That shouldn't prevent someone from participating in government. Finally after the passing of the 19th Amendment, women were allowed to vote, too; this made voting equal. Men and women being able to vote is voting equality. Men and women are equal in this situation. That's all we want in every situation.
6. Because We are Constantly Told We Can't
Unfortunately, girls are told from a very young age that there are certain things they cannot do because it's not "lady-like" or because it's not a "girl's job." Even little boys are told they cannot do certain things because only girls can. Girls are meant to play dress-up, and wear crowns, and take care of babies, and dance ballet, and paint their nails, and shop. Boys are the ones who provide for the family, and work hard, and build things, and lift heavy objects, and invent new things. It's an insult if you do something "like a girl." We are constantly taught about the men who discovered important places and who invented life changing machines, but we are never really taught about the women involved in science and technology; in fact, most people cannot name a single female inventor. As we grow older, and realize that we can do things we were once told we can't, this becomes less of a problem (until you encounter the glass ceiling and the pay gap). But the point is that we need to stop discouraging women from the get-go. Encourage little girls to get dirty, to learn science, to invent a new machine, to play a "boys'" sport, and to, most importantly, be whoever and whatever they want to be.
I hope this clarifies some things for those who might have been fuzzy on what Feminism is, or for those who believe popular opinion. These are just a few reasons as to why this movement is prevalent. As a reminder: Feminism is about equality. So, if you are a Feminist, you are for equality. Honestly, everyone should be a Feminist because everyone should want equality. But, if you don't consider yourself a Feminist, please do not ridicule those who are, rather, understand why this movement exists and realize that just because you do not need Feminism, does not mean someone else does not.