What is feminism?
With the recent passing of the Women’s March in Washington D.C. and all other major cities around the country, the topic of feminism is on the forefront of every conversation. Which is a good thing. The more that we have open conversations about it, the more we can understand what it is as a whole. It is important that I address that this article does not to have a positive or negative spin about what feminism is. I simply asked the question to a group of college-aged women from all over the country, “What does feminism mean to you?” These are their opinions:
“Feminism means, to me, equal rights for both genders. But I have a love/hate relationship with the word feminism. Clearly, it has been made into a word to describe the opposite of what feminism is, like hating men and chivalry and anything in the least bit questionable to women’s strength, but that’s not even why I dislike it. I guess I don’t hate the word feminism, I more hate that the world has come to a place where something that should not even be a question--equal rights--has its own name and movement.”
“To me, it means being comfortable with yourself and standing up for who you are. I do not think that we are superior to men, though. With the Women’s March there have been photos of almost nude women and I think that is degrading to women and not showing self-worth!”
“Feminism is a little overbearing. I feel like if I don’t support every single view a typical feminist has I’m considered anti-woman. When it comes to being a feminist, I feel like it’s all or nothing. Side note: I am not anti-woman, I got love for the ladies always.”
“To me, feminism is an expression of joy in being a woman. We are powerful, smart, strong, beautiful, eloquent, and determined and that is something I am proud to be and will continue to prove to be. Feminism, while sometimes seen as a dirty word that is associated with negative connotations, to me, is an expression of the potential and ability women have in this world and need for others to wake up and see that.”
“Feminism means being a strong female and never at the expense or work of another. It means working hard for what I want, not letting others take advantage of me or beat me out of something I have worked harder for, and being the best human being I possibly can. Feminism means embracing everything that comes with being a female, and not criticizing men or women for what stereotypes they do or don’t fulfill. Feminism means not letting what males or other females think of women define me or guide my actions because I desire to make my own path independent of whomever is in my life and whatever is going on. Feminism means a woman should be whatever she wants to be whether she wants to be a business leader, a stay at home mom, a physical laborer, or a politician.”
“Feminism, to me, is a women's ability to advocate for herself in a way that makes her feel equal and comfortable with herself in her society. Feminism often gets a bad connotation, but at its base, feminism is women's reach for equality. In a patriarchal society, it is crucial that women have the right to speak up for what they deserve. Feminism and the feminist movement give women this power.”
“Feminism means being strong, working hard for your dreams, and never giving up despite the circumstances you may face.”
“Feminism is touchy for me. I know there are many definitions of what it is to be a “feminist”, but neither of them would describe me. Therefore, I wouldn’t consider myself 100% feminist. I believe women should be paid equally if they are participating in the same career as men. I am shocked that is even in question still. However, I also believe there are many things males have privilege to because they are men. That’s okay. Men and women were created incredibly different. Specifically, with the topic of bodies. I personally don’t agree with the idea that women should be able to show however much skin they want because men do. Biblically speaking, women’s bodies were created, truly as art, for the eyes of one man. And that is a man that you can trust. The minds of men struggle tremendously with temptation. Let’s not lie about this. Men are horny. Therefore, fighting for girls to go topless and “free boob”, leaves more temptation for men. Some cannot control it. I believe this would lead to more rape cases, harassment, etc. I understand where women come from in the aspect that men should just control themselves. But at what cost? The male mind was created incredibly different than the woman's, and I personally think we as women shouldn’t make it any more difficult. Women compensate where men cannot and vice versa. I believe that while women are fighting to have what men have, they are truly losing what it is that only a woman can possess in herself.”
“Feminism reminds me that as a woman, I deserve the equal opportunity to do whatever I am passionate about, regardless of stereotype. Feminism means that my opportunities are not limited because of my inherent gender. When I think of examples of feminism, I think of my mom. She works as humanly possible to accomplish everything she puts her mind to in her work, marriage, and in her relationships with friends and family because she is a passionate person. She empowers me to do the same! Which is easier said than done. Lift weights? Sure! Study science? Sure! She is 100% supportive!”
“To me, feminism is hard to explain, it means so many things to so many people. But I think the most important part of feminism is equality. No matter what, gender, color, religion, etc. I think that is it, feminism to me is just another word for equality. I want to know that I can do whatever I set my mind to and not be held back because I am a woman.”
When all is said and done, it is important to remember that all of these college-aged women’s opinions are valid. Having different opinions leads to open conversation about what the most basic definition of feminism is and then gives something to build off of. Even if you do not agree with something that was a quoted opinion, that is okay. The purpose of this article is to simply put the opinions out there. All of these women are in college and will soon be out in the world, shaping it, whether that be as a stay at home mom or a career driven woman or both. All these roles are important. Their opinions may change, and as we grow that happens. But it is always important not to fear the word feminism. Just learn what it means, to you.