The term feminist has taken on many interpretations in today's society. Merriam-Webster defines feminism as the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, and organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests. That means a feminist is one who supports this definition. Feminism is meant to include everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, social economic status, income, location, beliefs, age, education, and so many other quirks that make us unique. Most people think that feminism is only for women, but men can be part of the movement, too. It originally started out as a way of empowering women from their second class positions, but now it has grown into so much more. Not only does it seek to still empower women, but according to Marie Claire, it seeks to end violence against women, improve family leave policies, encourage women in office, fighting to keep women's reproductive rights, closing the pay gap, cracking down on the sex trade, encouraging women to take on STEM field jobs, bridging the trans gap, and recognizing what real bodies look like (as opposed to those edited by Photoshop).
I definitely agree with these issues. However, I would also like to add some of my own. I think that feminism should also include building other women up rather than tearing them down, ending female genital mutilation in several countries around the world, empowering minorities, helping people in countries that are suffering from catastrophic events and diseases, recognizing other groups and their unique issues effecting them, speaking for this who cannot, empowering women in a religious setting where often sexist traditions push them back, recognizing that all lives matter, and understanding that not everyone struggles in the same way.
As I mentioned before, some groups struggle with issues unique to them. For example, according to Muslim Women's League, women in Islam struggle with violence against them as a result of warfare, subjection of them to harassment, abuse of certain Islamic practices, and excluding them from religious activities. American Progress states that issues that black women face include health (black women are more likely to get breast cancer, for example), educational attainment, entrepreneurship, economic security (they have higher rates of unemployment), and representation in politics (of the 98 women in congress, only 14 of them are black). Latina states that Latin American women face issues such as unsafe abortion, five of seven countries have a total abortion ban, native women have a higher mortality rate, the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world, trans women are more vulnerable to HIV, troubling murder rates, and dangerous working conditions. It is clear that not all groups struggle the same way. I'm aware there are more groups than those listed. Regardless of how many groups I list, it is important to be aware of their unique issues and understand them in order to make them feel included in feminism.
There are several untrue stereotypes applied to women in the feminist movement. A Guide to Understanding Feminism highlights some of the most common stereotypes, such as feminists hate men, feminists hate families, all feminists are lesbians, they're always angry, they're ugly, they hate stay at home moms, and all feminists believe the exact same thing. None of these are true. Nobody is ugly or hates families. These are generalizations of a movement, and shouldn't be made. That also goes for generalizing groups of people. It shouldn't happen, no matter what the stereotype is. Also, not every feminist is liberal. Some are conservative, some are libertarian, and some are independent. You can be a pro life feminist, a pro choice feminist, or whatever you believe. Feminism should include everyone.
So, why am I a feminist? Again, I want to support other women, help other groups and be aware of their unique issues, keep reproductive rights, encourage qualified women to get into more job areas like STEM and politics, end violence, include other people, and other reasons previously listed in this article. I feel like sometimes the actions of a few can make a whole group look bad, no matter the group. I wish people would recognize what a real feminist is, and not assume that everyone is hateful or angry.