Growing up, I always had a clouded mind on the concept of feminism. Fortunately, there was my mom who has time and time again been a fierce advocate for women's rights. But where would I be without her presence of enlightenment? For years (mainly high school lol), I was placed in an environment that looked down upon the meaning of feminism. There was this negative connotation attached to the forsaken "F word". The reference of feminism frequently led to the assumption that I held a firm hatred against the male species. On several occasions I questioned my persistence to voice my own passions.
You are doing too much.
No one is listening, you're just irritating.
You talk too much.
But I stopped listening and soon thereafter overcame these thoughts. It is mind boggling, personally, to see how society has transformed the meaning of feminism. Women are really out here simply asking for equal pay in the workplace, repercussions for sexual assault, and representation in governmental positions... and yet there are still people questioning the existence of feminism?
This past week I created a poll on my Instagram account that asked my followers a very, generic question: do you consider yourself a feminist? It was quite interesting reviewing the results. With 245 views, only 57 people participated. Right off the bat I see symbolism with the connection to the political realm. So many individuals witness gender disparity, but if it isn't directly affecting them, there is little to no concern. I observe this in every aspect of my life. From friends to family members, there's a failure to recognize one's privilege in not having to take "controversial" stances that go beyond gender disparity.
It is also worth noting that 47 out of the 57 participants were women (82.5%). When reflecting on the outspoken voices of the women's rights movement, the majority is made up of... women! While I do believe women should be the frontrunners, we cannot do this alone. A political reform calls for numbers in order to gain momentum and attention. Men must show up, take initiative, and express support.
With that being said, among the 57 individuals who did vote, 41 (6 men, 35 women) responded that they are indeed a feminist while the remaining 16 (4 men, 12 women) expressed that they are not. I cannot explain how each poll taker came to their answer without speculation. For the 16 individuals who answered "no", I can only hypothesize that they believe there is no need for feminism, possess a different understanding of it or both.
When I come across someone who visualizes the concept of feminism as absurd, I immediately assume they support women living to serve their spouse in a heteronormative society. Obviously, that's not usually true. Most of the time it is a misconception of feminism and what it truly stands for. Many people have confronted me expressing their immense support for gender equality but cannot come to identify themselves as a feminist. The stigma attached to the word has caused a great amount of ruckus. But, as a society, we have put way too much stress on the word and have not paid nearly as much attention to the overall ideology that sparks from it. With growing concerns of human trafficking, extremely high rates of young girls becoming child brides, and the fact that only 6 countries in the world give women equal legal work rights as men, it is pertinent more than ever before that we address the gender inequality that still heavily remains in society.
I will conclude with the notion that everyone should consider themself an intersectional feminist; one who believes in the radical idea that all women are equal to men on a political, economic, and sociological level. We must become well familiar with the injustices that occur day in and day out, even if it does not directly impact ourselves. As the infamous Desmond Tutu put it, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor". Furthermore, we must abolish the stereotypes associated with the word feminism. And finally, we must support women.