To this question, I can answer without a doubt, “yes.” This may seem strange to many, considering I’m a male, high school student. However, in today’s society, everyone should support feminism.
Many people today have a misunderstanding of what feminism is, including those who claim to be feminists themselves. It is commonly and wrongly believed that only lesbians are feminists and that being a feminist is to hate men and feel that women are superior. This is not what a feminist is at all. Merriam-Webster defines feminism as, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities” and as “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”
In April 2013, the Huffington Post and YouGov conducted a survey asking Americans two questions. The first: Do you consider yourself a feminist? The second: Do you believe that men and women should be social, political, and economic equals? As I mentioned before, feminism is the belief that men and women should be social, political, and economic equals, thus making the two questions identical. However, the results highlighted the idea that feminism is viewed negatively by today’s society. Only 20 percent of those surveyed considered themselves a feminist. When asked the second question, a whopping 82 percent claimed their support for gender equality.
An Ellen Page interview with The Guardian from July 2013 addresses this very issue. Not only did she state that she is a feminist proudly, but she highlighted the negative belief about the word “feminism."
“I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re a feminist,” Page said, according to The Guardian. “Maybe some women just don’t care. But how could it be any more obvious that we still in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?”
So why is feminism considered a bad word? The word feminism brings to mind women and women’s issues and because of the patriarchal society we live in today, the fact that feminism concentrates on women’s issues is considered problematic. Why is that though? Are we so unconcerned about women’s issues that we don’t even want a word to represent it?
The blame for the misunderstanding of feminism is not only on men’s shoulders; women are just as guilty. There is an anti-feminist social media presence run by women. The group, Women Against Feminism, has both a Facebook page and a Tumblr account. The group posts pictures of women holding up signs explaining why they don’t see the need of feminism. One of these signs on Facebook states, “feminism is man-hate.” Another says, “I don’t need feminism because it is a movement full of hypocrisy and hate.”
People need to take the time to do some research about what feminism really means. Instead of accepting society’s negative view of it, learning about feminism and the activists who support it will help to replace the misconceptions and hate. If you Google “feminist activists,” you will learn about what women and men all over the world have done and are doing to advance the equality between women and men and to stop violence against women.
Feminism is a topic that is important to talk about because people are so mislead and ignorant about it. The ongoing challenges that women face daily all over the world need to be addressed and feminism helps in doing so. Erasing and misunderstanding the importance and presence of feminism will only add to the negative misconceptions and stigma the ideals and movement has.
It’s time for every member of today’s society to recognize that being a feminist is positive and can only do good for society as a whole. Today’s action will eventually lead to tomorrow’s equality.