There is a really strange stigma around women who identify as a feminist. Several assumptions are that to be a feminist, you despise men and never shave your armpits. All though some women may feel compelled to choose this lifestyle, many do not. Feminists have acquired a negative reputation to the point that it feels almost dirty to say you are one, but that should not be the case!
A few days ago, one of my male peers (who I've known for quite some time) asked me "are you a feminist?" and for a second, I stopped to think about how I should respond. Will he think I'm weird? If I say yes, will he think I hate him? Will I have to justify myself? I see myself as a feminist and I know exactly what that entails, but many people often see feminism in a radical light. I turned to him with a smile on my face and a modest, "Yeah, I'd say so" in which my over-thinking was matched with the "Oh, cool" in response.
See, the thing is feminism takes many different forms. There is the "radical feminist" who sees the patriarchy as the governing evil of the world, and the "modern-day feminist" who works to see equal justice between all peoples no matter their gender identification, race, religion, or economic background. Often, when people think of the word "feminist" they visualize the first version of feminism. To each is their own, but in order to change the stigma of what feminism is, we must focus on the second version.
Modern-day feminists do not see men as their superior, but they also do not see them as my inferior. Throughout grade school, young girls are taught alongside their male counterparts that women can do anything that a man can do. Sooooo, when did we stop believing this? A major argument against feminism is "women are just not built to handle the physical labor a man can, therefore they are not equal" and of course, some women are not built as large as men… but sometimes men aren't built as large as the "average man" either. Does this make him any less of a man? Heck no! Some women are built larger than men, does this make her any less of a woman? No, sir! As a society, we need to stop attributing physical attributes to gender to attempt to justify if one gender reigns supreme over another one… that is irrelevant.
Also, major news flash!! Men and non-binary people can identify as a feminist. Feminism is not strictly interwoven into being a female, but it is intersectional as ANYONE WITH A PULSE CAN BE A FEMINIST! The thought of a feminist of being a crazy woman is just not true… we all aren't crazy, and we all aren't women! The "modern-day feminist" fights for social injustice issues amongst all people and creating legislation to protect everyone, not just women, therefore, they do not have to be just women!
Ladies have proven throughout history that they can be as badass as the men (sometimes even more badass), so why does it feel dirty calling yourself a proud feminist woman? Feminism has taken some negative connotations over the years as the changes in the feminist movement have shifted, but the current "fourth wave" movement is one to take in pride. Being called a feminist today is not an insult. Today, being a feminist does not mean you're angry, or that you hate men, or that you do not want to shape to the societal norms that women before you have set, it means that you want equality amongst all.
The definition of feminism is shaped differently in people's mind, however, modern-day feminism helps to create justice for all walks of life no matter who you are. The stigma around being a feminist must change in order to rid the taboo of being labeled as one and create the equality we want to see in the future. If feminists are people who want to see improvement for the health care of minorities, for equal rights for LGBTQ+ people, for more women in high power positions, and many other things… then I am damn proud to call myself a feminist woman.