I'm proud to be a feminist. Growing up, I was taught that men and women are equal. That women deserve the same job opportunities as men, that they should be paid the same wage for the same jobs, and that they can perform just as well in the same careers.
In my eyes, feminism just means that you support equality.
I was lucky enough to have good role models growing up, strong women who taught me that I could do anything I wanted. While I do understand that some women come from a different background, it always surprises me when I meet others who just accept the patriarchy.
Lately, I've seen too many posts and articles by women who are proud to NOT be feminists. They say they'll leave the fight for equality to other women, or that they aren't feminist because they don't hate their husbands or want a career. These women seem to think that they can't be stay-at-home moms and fight for gender equality.
I won't pretend that radical feminism doesn't exist. It totally does. There are women who have a twisted view of what feminism is, and it's a view I don't agree with. These women may believe they're better than men, or they're better than women who choose to stay at home and raise their families.
I don't think that, because I know what feminism really is. I've done my research, and I can say that I truly believe everyone should advocate for women's rights. To understand why it's so important, you have to first learn what feminism really is.
Feminism is about EQUALITY.
Merriam-Webster defines feminism as "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes." That's exactly what true feminism is. It isn't about being better than anyone else but wanting equality. This includes wanting equal opportunities and pay, as well as discarding stereotypical gender roles.
Still not convinced? This article by The Economist sums it up pretty well: "Some skeptics will argue that feminism remains problematic because its true objective is not to achieve equality, but to advantage women at all costs, to the detriment of men…Not so." Where people get confused is that advocating for women's rights doesn't make you a man-hater, it just means you want to have equal opportunities and shatter gender roles. No big deal.
Feminism doesn't mean you have to choose between a home and a career.
Just because you want to have a family doesn't mean you can't be a feminist. One of the common misconceptions about feminism is that you have to choose one or the other — if you choose a lifestyle that follows more traditional gender roles, you can't be "for" feminism.
That's not true. Think about what feminism is about: equality. When women state that they aren't feminist or don't believe in feminism because they want to be homemakers, they're discrediting the work other women are doing. No one said you can't stay at home and raise a family, or that doing so means you can't be an advocate of women's rights. Equality is about breaking gender roles, but that doesn't mean you have to become a CEO instead of a mother. Do both or neither. Just do what you want to do.
Feminism is more than going to rallies.
There's more to feminism than going to women's marches or standing outside clinics with "I Support Planned Parenthood" signs. Not everyone has the resources or the time to go to rallies or marches, and that's okay. That doesn't mean you aren't a feminist, or that you can't support feminist beliefs.
Supporting feminism is easy, and it's something that anyone can do. UN Women has a great list of ways to support gender equality every day. There are little things you can do to be an advocate for women's rights, like educating the next generation. Even something like donating feminine products to a shelter can help — one of the most important things you can do for feminism is support other women, any way you can.
Feminism is something men can (and should) support, too.
Feminism isn't the belief that men are better than women, and it isn't something that only women can support and fight for. Men can — and should — be feminist, and support gender equality. Because there is some confusion over what feminism really is, men may be reluctant to call themselves feminists or support it.
Some ask why it's called feminism and not humanism. While the term feminism may imply to some that it isn't really about equality, the answer is simple. Women are the oppressed gender. Vlogger Steve Shives explained it well: "… females are the gender that is the underprivileged, underserved gender. You attain gender equality by advocating for the rights of the underprivileged gender." True feminism is about equality, not elevating women above men. Men who understand that are important allies in the fight for gender equality because they can lead by example and teach others around them.
Feminism affects every woman, so you might as well help.
Some women who declare they aren't feminists will say they don't need to be because other women are fighting for equal rights. That kind of thinking is ignorant and lazy. Just because others are doing it doesn't mean you can sit back and reap their rewards. As stated above, there are more ways to support feminism than going to marches; being vocal and teaching others, like your children, is a great way to inspire change.
If you decide to just sit back and let others do all the work, there won't be change. Advocating for women's rights is such an important thing to do, even if all you're doing is the simple act of advocating for it. Change only comes if everyone wants it and is willing to make those changes. You don't have to do a lot, but you should at least support the cause.
Hopefully, more people will become educated on what feminism really is, and why it's so important. There's a negative association with the word because of the actions of some but trust me — we just want true equality.