In a world where mass media influences society, where news is available 24/7, and where politics and social issues split countries in half, it is difficult to keep up. One thing we cannot do, however, is have this term "feminism" confused with something it isn't, amidst all of the other things happening in the world.
Feminism. The definition of feminism is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Going based off of that definition, it is almost impossible to not agree with it. Equality amongst the genders. Equal pay for the same work, equal opportunities, equal say in issues that concern our surroundings. That makes sense, right?
Then why is that the actual term "feminism" has such a controversial connotation?
Some common misconceptions about what a feminist is and what feminists stand for are being confused with facts. Feminists, real feminists, do not hate men. Not all of us burn our bras, or follow one political party or not shave our armpits or blah blah blah blah blah, etcetera, etcetera. Do you see what I mean? While there are feminists who might do some of these things, the important thing to take away is that we need to stop being stereotyped into one mainstream category. It is difficult to really define feminism because it isn't simple. It is a complex movement that stands for a ton of different things. Feminist issues are issues of social justice. Feminists fight, or should fight, for equity for all of the genders and for the rights of those who cannot do it on their own.
I think that the thing that people get wrong about feminism is that the fight for equality is over. That feminism as a whole has "already succeeded." That is not the case. While it is true that today's women have more rights and freedoms than those of the women that have come before us, the fight for equality has only just begun.
Here is why:
As a white woman, I know that I have more privilege than women of color. Intersectional feminism is feminism. I know that women of color are paid less than white women and face discrimination, not only because they are women, but also because of their race. That white feminism is ruining the feminist movement.
That. Is. Messed. Up. That is why we still need feminism.
As a cisgender woman, I know that trans women face transphobic people on a daily basis and often fear for their safety for simply being themselves. That. Is. Messed. Up. That is why we still need feminism.
As a United States Citizen, I know that there are young girls in other countries who are denied education and are forced into marriages before they are 18. All they want is a chance to be someone other than a wife or mother. They are denied their right to live their own life. That. Is. Messed. Up. That is why we still need feminism.
As a middle-class woman, I know that I am lucky to have a roof over my head because while I sleep in the comfort of my own bed, there are people in poverty that are 12% more likely to be sexually assaulted than I am. That. Is. Messed. Up. That is why we still need feminism.
As a feminist, I know that these issues, amongst many others, cannot be swept under the rug. I know that these are the issues we march for. These are the rights that will not be denied.
I am a feminist. That, for me, means that all I want to be is the change I wish to see in the world. We've come a long long way, but there is so much more to do.
I am not trying to convince every single person reading this to identify as a feminist. I know that isn't realistic. All I hope is that whoever reading this opens up their mind and their heart just a little to see that all some people want is a voice. To be heard. That is what I think a huge part of being a feminist means. And that is why I will continue to fight this fight.