Feminism is a word that is heard on a daily basis in our lives. The word describes a popular movement that has gained many followers in recent years. It is also commonly used with the wrong definition attached to it via popular media sources. The definition of feminism is not to support equality for one specific gender. The true definition of feminism is to have equal standards for all people regardless of gender, and this definition is misconstrued through popular icons in the field of feminism today; therefore, feminists should rename their movement to the more appropriate term of egalitarianism.
First, our society should properly define feminism instead of allowing multiple definitions to float around and fend for themselves with followings of belligerent citizens that use the word with hatred. Hatred has never been a definition of feminism and never will be. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word feminism has two definitions. The fact that a respectable organization such as Merriam-Webster cannot define this word properly once without upsetting people is a sign that we have a problem. The first definition of “feminism” is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” The second definition is “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” Normally, I would approve of two definitions if they are being used in two different circumstances. That is not the case with this word. We have one situation where the same exact word is used with two vastly different meanings. One meaning is supporting equality for all genders while the other meaning sides with one specific side of the overall picture of this movement, women’s rights, and justifies it as the only problem. There is an abundance of confusion on the definition of “feminism,” so feminists should clarify the definition of this word as it applies to the current movement in order to help feminism achieve its goal.
The goal of the feminist movement, gender equality, could be more accurately defined as a movement of egalitarianism. Egalitarianism is defined as “a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political and economic affairs” or “a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people” according to Merriam-Webster. This definition literally has the same meaning as the first definition given to describe the feminist movement. Instead of forcing supporters of feminism to choose which of the two definitions they support, feminists should relabel themselves as egalitarianists.
Popular political, economic and social groups have taken whichever meaning they identify as correct and used it to go against the actual goal of feminism by creating a war in the media on the definition of feminism. One side of this war is shown in the video produced by the organization FCKH8 entitled “Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism,” as girls ages six through 13 do just what the title suggests. Throughout this video, these young girls are spitting out numbers and statistics that show examples of sexism women face every day in our society. However, the video fails to state the opposite side of the conversation that shows the inequalities men face in regards to gender. Some of the statistics stated by these girls include:
“Women are paid 23% less than men for the same work”
“One in five women are raped or assaulted in gender-based violence”
“Society is teaching women that their bodies, boobs, and butts are more important than their brains."
While these statistics are true, men are also faced with inequality based on their gender. The only attempt in this video made by FCKH8 to point out inequalities towards men comes at the very end when a 12-year-old boy shows up also dressed as a princess and says:
“When you tell boys not to ‘act like a girl,’ it’s because you think it’s bad to be a girl.”
This small attempt to show that males also support this type of feminism, which includes the extreme feminists that are considered “man-hating,” reveals that men are also held to an unnecessary standard because of their gender. This contradicts the purpose of the entire video FCKH8 created and makes its goal unclear.
These examples of popular groups choosing one of the two definitions of feminism and justifying it as more accurate than the other definition is discussed in the argument that Lauren Southern makes in her video on Rebel Media’s YouTube page.
Southern’s video is less about which side of the argument on the definition of feminism she supports and more about the fact that there are two sides to feminism and the two sides do not have the same goal. Southern states that there is a flaw in the definition of feminism that promotes equality for all genders and that “third wave feminism is not a movement for equality” due to the lack of feminists supporting men’s rights as equally as women’s rights. To support this, she presents many statistics that show how men are unrepresented in feminism. These include facts such as “100,000 to 140,000 males are raped annually in U.S. prisons” and “almost half of domestic violence victims in the U.S. and Canada are men yet they have no safe houses, court advocacy programs, subsidized counseling programs or subsidized legal care programs specifically for men.”
She also talks about how many advantages women have over men just because of gender. The advantage Southern discusses that stuck out the most in my opinion is that women are more likely to gain custody of a child in a divorce. Being a child of divorced parents, I know that that is true. I do know that this is a true statistic, however, I do not ignore this statistic and I consider myself to be a “feminist.” Southern uses all of these statistics that she believes are ignored by feminists to essentially point out that “feminism” itself is a gender-biased word and that feminists are divided when it comes to what feminism is truly about, and that fact alone makes her incapable of labeling herself as a feminist.
This is where Southern’s logic has flaws. The true movement of feminism is to create equal standards for all people regardless of gender. Feminists have divided themselves over time and continued this argument on the purpose of feminism. This division among feminists makes Southern’s logic seem legitimate, but Southern does not consider the fact that feminism is becoming a mislabeled movement due to the division. This alone invalidates her logic. The purpose of the feminist movement is to create a world where gender does not affect your ability to achieve your goals. Regardless of gender, men and women should be able to live in a harmonious society. In the effort to acknowledge that both genders are represented in feminism, egalitarianism beliefs have become more and more popular. Many feminists label themselves as a feminist but have the beliefs of egalitarianism attached to their label due to all of the confusion on what feminism is truly about.
Furthermore, even though feminism has been predominantly focused on women’s rights in its history, there is still and will likely always be room for improvement in rights for both genders. Looking at current events of today, Kesha Rose Sebert, widely known by her stage name Ke$ha, is going through a legal battle for her right to record music outside of her contract after allegedly being drugged and raped by her producer, Dr. Luke. Sebert has not recorded any music in the past three years, and, even though this case has received much attention nationally, she is continually being denied permission to break her contract and create music again. The movement that is associated with the word “feminism” has not done much help in her current situation. Until our legal system is convinced to take every single case of sexual assault seriously without regards of gender, we will be working against any initiative that the feminism movement has set forth in its history. We must continually grow and better ourselves not only nationally but globally when it comes to serious issues such as gender in political, economic, and social situations.
With all of this being said, feminism is not a movement to receive better rights for one gender but for all genders equally. The word “feminism” should not be used to describe this movement anymore because it has caused confusion and anger between the two groups that consider themselves feminists. I ask that all devoted feminists truly ask themselves what they stand for. It is time that we call the feminist movement by what it truly is — a movement of egalitarianism. As feminists, we are no longer furthering our initiative by hiding behind a mislabeled movement. Egalitarianism is what we stand for now and is what we should label our movement as. The progress of our movement as a whole depends on it. The true definition of the feminism movement is not the word “feminism” any longer because of what it has come to mean. It is a gender-biased word and should be replaced by its better, more accurate word — egalitarianism.