"Feminism" Isn't A Bad Word

"Feminism" Isn't A Bad Word

There are some bad "F" words, but this isn't one of them.
60
views

Women's rights have come a long way since the early suffragette days, but feminism still has negative connotations attached to it. Nothing hurts my heart more than seeing someone turn his or her nose up at the mention of “feminism” because of preconceived (and quite often false) notions that are perpetuated by society. Here are my responses to some of those notions.

“Why is it even called feminism if it’s for everyone?”

It’s true, feminism is for everyone. By Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” So why, then, is it called feminism?

Well, historically, women have been the ones who suffered inequality and sexism. Women were the ones prohibited from learning how to read, owning property, voting, purchasing birth control, opening a bank account…the list goes on. In fact, it wasn’t until 1975 that the Supreme Court retracted the ban on women serving as jury members in a trial. That’s only 42 years ago! Men have not had to fight for equal rights, and if they had, it probably would’ve been called “meninism.” (which, annoyingly enough, is a term that has recently begun appearing in popular culture…but don’t get me started on that).

Feminism, as a movement, began because women were being treaty unjustly. They were not (and in some cases are still not) equal to their male counterparts in politics, economics, or society. Feminism is called feminism, not because women want to have a higher status than men, but because they want the same status.

"Ugh, feminists are just man-haters."

Again, feminism is not about the hatred of men. Yes, it so often feels as though fighting for equality is a 'women vs. men' war. But, as I mentioned earlier, feminism isn’t about hating men; it is about being treated the same as them. Just because I identify as a feminist doesn’t mean I hate men. In fact, I want them to benefit from feminism too.

In her book We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, says,

“We stifle the humanity boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.”

The rigid boundaries of masculinity are as toxic to men as they are to women. How often do we hear “boys don’t cry” or “be a man”? What do these statements imply? That showing emotion is (a historically “feminine” trait) is a weakness that must be avoided at all costs.

See Also: 5 Must-Read Books For Women's History Month

I don’t want men to be afraid to show their emotions or talk about their feelings. I don’t want them to be so scared of feeling weak or seeming vulnerable or that they aren’t allowed to just be human. If in society, men and women were treated equally, then there would be no more “boys don’t cry” because crying wouldn’t be a weakness.

It’s really difficult to be happy when you’re trapped in a cage, so dispelling the thinking that men can’t ever show “feminine” traits without being seen as weak would mean a lot more well-adjusted, emotionally healthy men.

“Aren’t feminists just loud women who burn their bras?”

Fun fact: the original “bra burning” trope comes from a 1969 protest at which no bras were actually burned. The protest took place on the Atlantic City Boardwalk where it was illegal to start a fire, so the protestors put typical “feminine” items in a “Freedom Trash Can” instead. These items, which included bras and other beauty products, were representations of the beauty standards that society enforces on women. Unfortunately, the “bra burning” falsity stuck and was used to belittle the movement and disregard the message protesters were trying to send. So no, feminists aren’t just women who burn their bras.

“Feminism isn’t needed anymore.”

Things do seem better for women now. I mean, I’m writing this article, so that means I was taught how to read and write. I’m in college, so I was allowed to pursue higher education. I voted in the last election, which means the suffragettes work paid off. So we’re all good now, right?

Gosh, I wish that were true.

Unfortunately, women are still discriminated against. We still aren’t paid the same as men. Women are often the target of abuse online. One out of every six American women has been the victim of sexual assault. Women only make up 104 of the 535 (19%) seats in Congress, 21 of the 100 seats (21%) in the Senate, and 83 of the 435 (19%) of the seats in the House of Representatives. This might be part of the reason that, in most states, tampons and pads are not seen as “necessities” and are therefore still taxed like other “tangible personal property.”

Clearly, we still need feminism. We can’t afford to think we live in a post-feminism society just because things “aren’t as bad as they used to be.” We can always do better. We must do better.

Cover Image Credit: Vanity Fair

Popular Right Now

An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
221517
views

What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

An Open Letter To PETA CEO Ingrid Newkirk

For an organization whose sole purpose is to ensure the ethical treatment of animals, I have many questions.

187
views

Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I, like you, am a firm believer in the right to compassion for all living beings around the world. Ever since converting to veganism from the omnivorous lifestyle I was raised to lead nearly six years ago, I have heavily relied on PETA.com and its affiliates for information, facts and statistics, recipe ideas, cruelty-free lifestyle selections, and activism opportunities on almost a daily basis so that I may further grow my knowledge and support for this permanent lifestyle change. When I search for new beauty or household products, clothing, shoes, and more, it is always comforting to see the "PETA-Approved Vegan" logo on the box, and I am confident in the purchases that I am making.

It was only recently that a new stream of data was brought to my attention that has altered my viewpoint of your organization and what it truly stands for, and I request that you provide the public your reasoning or justification for such acts, and any reparations that need to be made. Another lifelong vegan friend of mine recently pointed out to me a website called petakillsanimals.com where there is sizable physical legal evidence of immense animal cruelty, suffering, and murder at the hands of PETA over the last fifteen of years. Seeing as you have been the CEO of the organization for over 25 years, I figured it would be best to address you directly, seeking a response to this evidence of cruelty from the globally renowned organization that does all that it can to fight cruelty in every form.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, from 1998 to 2017, 85.2% of all dogs and cats transferred to your facility for shelter were euthanized within 24 hours of being brought to your facility. Despite your reasoning that you painlessly end the suffering of animals who would have otherwise been left to suffer anyway, the arguments and justifications that you are making mirror the arguments of the meat, dairy, poultry, and fish industries (whom you dedicate your life to combating) all too identically. Just as PETA fights to end society's blasé attitude toward animal cruelty and murder, your attempt at claiming that the way you euthanize the animals in your facility is "better", renders one of PETA's greatest catchphrases, essentially, worthless: "There is no such thing as humane murder".

Similarly, after wrongfully luring a family pet off its porch in 2014, PETA took the pet from its owner's property and euthanized it, bringing the dog's owners to file a lawsuit with your organization that was just settled in 2017, where PETA was forced to pay the family nearly $50,000 dollars in damages. Finally, terror is not ever a justifiable option to invoke change, so why are you personally and professionally so aligned with the Animal Liberation Front, a terrorist organization responsible for arson, extensive property damage, and assault? Why have you donated nearly $80,000 to groups that promote harming life in order to save a life?

Ridding the world of violence with more violence has never, does not, and will never work, so if I can request only one thing from you in this letter, even if you refuse to answer my other questions, it is this: please take the funds that are allocated towards extensive euthanasia drugs and services used by and in your facility, and put them toward building either another building to house more animals if physical space is a concern, for providing food and more extensive adoption services for these animals, or donate them to a true no-kill animal-rights organization like Best Friends Animal Society, Underdog Rescue, or any others provided on this list.

In this letter, my intention was neither to attack nor provoke you in an inflammatory manner, but rather to merely seek truth from an organization that I once so dearly respected and wish to one day respect again in the same manner. I thank you for your time, and for all of the lives that you have saved in between.

Sincerely,

An Animal Lover & Ally

Related Content

Facebook Comments