Feminism. The dirty F-word. Synonymous with man-hating, unshaven armpits, and masculine women.
It seems that many people are afraid to coin themselves "feminists" because they are afraid of being associated with a stigma. They are worried that they will be thought of as hating men, or not being allowed to wear makeup. They are afraid of being radical individuals. And because of this, even if they believe women and men should have equal rights and equal opportunity, they don't want to be associated with this term.
But, when and why did feminism become synonymous with these things, when all it is discussing is the fight for equal rights. Oxford dictionary defines feminism as "the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes."
No where does the definition of feminism mean hating men, or being forced to dress in socially typical anti-women clothing. The definition also doesn't mean that you have to be a woman to be a feminist, or that you have to be a radical individual.
All the definition of feminism means is that as a feminist one is calling for women's rights because one believes that men and women should be equal. It is not asking individuals to hate another sex to be equal, no where is there a dress code, or hygiene manual. All feminism is doing, and all anyone who calls himself a feminist is doing, is stating that one should not be discriminated against simply because of their sex, and therefore women need to have equal rights.
With this full knowledge of the definition of feminism, there should be no reason that one should not call himself or herself a feminist. We have proven that feminism is not about hating anyone else, and we've proven that there is nothing one has to do, be, or look like to be a feminist. Therefore, everyone should ascribe to this term. We have determined that there is no standard type of feminist. A feminist can be any race, can be loud or shy, can understand politics or not. None of those things matter, as long as an individual believes any gender should be equal, and that since genders are not equal women's rights are needed, is a feminist.
While some people say they are afraid of labels, and other's say that don't join groups. Other's say they don't think they are the type to be a feminist, and other's say they do believe in equal rights for the sexes but they just don't want to call themselves a feminist, why?
For the anti-label individuals, one cannot go throughout life without ascribing to labels. The common label that we all share is being human. If one does not ascribe to that label, perhaps you ascribe to being 'brown-eyed' or a 'brunette'. Either way, there is a label in your life to which you will ascribe. If you believe in a cause then ascribing to a label is not a problem. Individuals say they don't want to associate themselves with feminism because of radical or wrong things feminists have done. But humans have done many wrong things, and the vast majority of us on this Earth still call ourselves humans. Therefore, a label is not something to be afraid of.
If you believe men and women, and anyone who identifies as anything else, should have equal opportunity, and rights. That everyone, with the same job qualification, should get paid the same way for the same job. That everyone should be treated the same way in the work place or the same classroom. That everyone should feel the same amount of safe when walking on a street, no matter what sex they happen to be. Well, then you are a feminist.
This does not mean that you have to start protesting at street corners the second after you read this, and it does not mean that you have to scream it from every rooftop you can find. But, please don't shy away from a label, simply because you don't think you are the type. Please, don't be afraid to call yourself a feminist.