noun fem·i·nism \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\

When looked up in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, two definitions of this word are found:

1. the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

2. organized activity in support of women's rights and interests

There is no third definition that says something like

3. the belief that women need to hold power over men


3. organized activity against the interest of men in order to uphold the interest of women

The reasons these definitions do not exist is because, contrary to popular belief, they are not feminism.

If you say you disagree with feminism, you are saying that you disagree with men and women being treated equally. Before you start thinking it, let me stop you: this is not about physicality, because I know that men naturally have more muscles than women, and if I can't lift something, I have no problem asking a guy to help me.

This is about rights, expectations, and the roles that we are expected to play in society. And it doesn't just apply to America. My very good friend Timeri has put it well:

"Feminism is...advocating for the equality of women and men. Not the superiority of women over men, which is the most common misconception. And not only fighting for the rights of women in America but all over the world. I want to be the voice of women who are facing injustices in the Middle East...who get shot in the head for saying they want to go to school...For the girls in Africa who don't have feminine hygiene products, so they're forced to miss school during their periods."

We are not here to destroy the lives of men or take away their rights. We are not here to hurt anyone. We are here to stand up for ourselves and the women who are unable to stand up for themselves.

I read an article recently that said feminists find it "disrespectful" when men pay for their meal. This. Is. Not. True. Are there probably some girls who would say that? Yes. Is that the main idea of feminism? No.

The main idea of feminism is that a man doesn't have to pay for my meal. If men and women are going to be treated equally, that means feminism should benefit men as much as it benefits women. When there is equality between the genders, suddenly, all stereotypes and gender roles are unimportant.

Men can dance ballet with no problems.

Women can become CEOs (or president) without being called bitches.

Men can love men.

Women can be stay-at-home-moms.

Men can spend Sundays watching football.

Women can choose to be single.

This is not a gender issue. This is an issue of not treating humans as people who bare the image of God. When girls are told as children that their bodies need to be covered so that boys don't look at them in lust, there is a problem. When boys are not allowed to play with dolls because they are supposed to play with blocks, there is a problem. When girls are thirteen years old and forced to marry because they have no rights, there is a problem.

Feminism is not something we should be scared of.

The intention is not to make people into something they are not. In fact, that is something that gender roles, stereotypes, and patriarchy are doing a great job of on their own. Feminism is encouraging people to be who they were created to be.

We should be doing something about the women that are trapped in the sex-trade. We should be doing something to keep husbands from feeling like they are not men if they want to stay home with the kids.

When did my gender get to decide what I am and am not good at?

Yes, men are naturally stronger than women. Yes, women are naturally more emotional than men. I also know a woman who can leg press 500 pounds. And one of my roommates is the least emotional person I know, while I have a guy friend who makes nearly every decision based off of emotion.

All of this is okay. Feminism is not trying to re-draw the boundaries of gender roles, it is trying to erase them.

Feminism is not about you. It is not about me. It is about the human race as a whole. It is about letting people be people, letting their strengths rise to the top, and empowering each other, every step we take. It is about hearing the stories of women and listening instead of justifying what happened. It is about loving people as they are, not as we want them to be.

So, instead of arguing about semantics and whether or not men should open the door for women, let's look at the bigger problem and stop putting expectations on people because of their genitals. This is 2016. It's time to move forward.

If you need more resources, check out this podcast, this poem, or this blog.