Yes, I'm A Feminist And Proud And, Yes, You Should Be Too
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Politics and Activism

Yes, I'm A Feminist And Proud And, Yes, You Should Be Too

We're normal people, and we will change the world.

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Yes, I'm A Feminist And Proud And, Yes, You Should Be Too
Bahaa A. Shawqi

In some ways, I understand how people refuse to identify as feminists. They think feminism is a man-hating movement, or that it's pointless -- women have the right to vote, own property, and run for office, after all. What else could they want? The name even seems biased towards women.

But when women have been historically and systematically oppressed since almost the beginning of time, being considered property, raped with no repercussions (not that there are hardly any still), and refused education, can you blame a movement for honoring the pioneers that fought for their right to be treated as human beings?

And even though, yes, there are some issues where men are worse off than women, men as a whole are still taken more seriously and valued more by society than women. Additionally, most issues that men argue as unfair tie into the same issues feminists are bringing up. For example, yes, men are raped, too, but it's most often by other men, not women, and yes, men are historically the drafted gender, but when women say they should be able to fight in combat zones if they qualify under the same standards as men, they are often met with resistance from these same groups. Even beyond specific issues, men should be able to be in touch with their feminine side without being harassed or beaten -- they can be just as thoughtful, or emotional or nurturing as women, and shouldn't be punished for owning up to these traits. When you only ever hear men bringing up their own issues as an argument against feminists, you might start to wonder whether they actually care about these issues, or only use them as a tool to silence women.

And yes, women have come a long way in their fight, but we're far from true equality. The pay gap, despite its many skeptics, is a real thing. Even beyond the gritty details behind the statistics, a simple look at everyday life will prove that women are systematically conditioned since they are young girls to choose careers that are more creative or liberal arts based, and those careers are simultaneously devalued by society. Think about it -- when children are little, what toys do parents, friends and family give to their children? Baby dolls are an iconic toys almost given exclusively to young girls, conditioning them in their role to be mothers and stay at home moms, sometimes abandoning their careers to do so. Yes, women are not forced to leave work (in most present-day instances), but when society has been telling women that their primary duty is to be a mother and wife, it makes sense that women either leave the workforce entirely, cut back on their hours, or choose less strenuous careers to make time for their families.This gender-role socialization doesn't even include other wage-gap factors like ingrained biases and the glass ceiling.

Women are also disproportionately victims of rape and abuse, while men are disproportionately the rapists and abusers. No, not all men; but too many. In their recovery, women face an uphill struggle as well. Survivors of rape are often blamed for what they did or didn't do to "provoke" the assault, and their rapists rarely see any legal repercussions -- only 6 perpetrators of 1,000 rapes will ever be incarcerated. And, contrary to popular belief, this discrepancy has nothing to do with false reports -- only 2-8% of reported rapes are false, about the same amount as with any other crime.

Women still also do not have control over their own bodies in many states. No matter what your religious or moral views on abortion are, you've got to admit it seems a little sick when lawmakers pass bills stating that a woman needs the man who impregnated her to grant his permission before allowing her to have an abortion, basically giving control over her medical decisions to a man who may not even be present in her life. Also, when lawmakers prioritize a fetus over a mother's life in a dangerous pregnancy, their respect for women becomes depressingly apparent. If nothing else, they should at least incorporate sexual education in schools to decrease unwanted teen pregnancies, something abstinence-only education has proved time and time again to to be miserable at. Of course, it also doesn't help that the strong majority of these lawmakers are white and male.

To be a feminist is, at its core, to believe in gender equality. It's that simple. Feminists are not their cruel stereotypes; those perceptions just exist and people believe them so they don't have to take responsibility and change their behaviors. The stereotype of the ugly, fat, lesbian feminist only proves how much the movement is needed -- why should physical appearance or sexual orientation determine the value of a woman's voice? And for people who believe feminists hate men, they obviously haven't spent much time around them. The overwhelming majority of feminists are either married to a man or have close friends and family who are men. Believing that women should be treated equally to men does not mean they blame and hate men, they just choose to associate with men who respect women and do their part to fight alongside them. Feminists are normal, caring, average people who are just looking to make the world a better place. A man can be a feminist, as long as he respects women and believes they deserve equality. A woman can be a feminist and want to have a thriving career, or they can be a feminist and also be a stay-at-home mom -- the point of feminism is just that everyone has a choice.

Feminists are strong, revolutionary and determined. They will change the world. Take a chance on the movement so many are quick to dismiss. You should be a feminist, but who knows -- odds are you already are one.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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