Feminism - the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
If you are a female who says you are against feminism, according to its definition, you are saying that you don't think women should be treated as equal to men politically, economically, and socially. Being a woman myself, I can't imagine why any woman would say that females should be treated as lesser than men. If you believe that women have an equal place in society, then you are a feminist, by definition (and yes, men can be feminists, too).
Lately, it seems that the word "feminist" is an insult. There's an article I've seen tossed around that makes some troubling points about why the author thinks the modern feminist movement isn't necessary, and how modern feminists worry too much about minute issues. It hurts me to hear other women put down a movement that represents them, especially when the need for feminism is still so great.
Middle-aged (and older) white males are deciding whether or not females are legally permitted to have abortions. Those same men try to make birth control less available to women or make that birth control outrageously expensive for their own profit. That's not equality.
Many women can't walk down the street alone without fearing for their safety. Those same women are being taught that they need to act and dress a certain way to avoid getting raped, while male rapists are not being rightfully punished by judges for fear of "ruining their future." That's not equality.
Women are called "bitches" when they speak their minds and take leadership roles. Those same women work hard to make their own way in the world, only to be criticized for wrecking the familial structure by men who feel their masculinity is being threatened by intelligent and successful women. That's not equality.
Men can talk about women in a degradingly sexual way and it be dismissed as "locker-room talk" because "boys will be boys." Those same men can become the President of the United States, even after being accused of rape several times. That's not equality.
Women should not have to live with these standards and be satisfied. Just because things are better now than they have been before does not mean that they can't be even better than they are now. The movement does not become invalid just because some women don't think that their lives are affected dramatically by sexism.
I experience sexism firsthand. I'm not content with being treated like I can't possibly be as smart as a male. I'm not content with being catcalled when I play a male-dominated sport just because the guys want to buffer their egos. I'm not content with that uncomfortable feeling of being surrounded by all males while they crack offensive jokes. I don't think any woman should be content with that. This is why feminism matters.
And the arguments that people often make against feminism fly in the face of the real goals of the movement. Yes, women and men are biologically different. Each and every human being is biologically different. Does that mean that equality is unachievable? No, it means that it is even more important. Feminism does not ask that women and men compete equally in sports. It does not ask that men be forced to experience the pains of having a period once a month. It asks that women and men be seen on the same level intellectually, economically, and in their importance to society.
And chivalry? It lives. Feminism does not feel insulted when men hold doors for women. It does not refuse to allow men to pay for dinner. It embraces the respect that gentlemen choose to show to women. It only rejects the idea that women should be treated as fragile, dependent on males, and incapable of paying for their own meals. Chivalry should come from a place of respect, not from the idea of female inferiority. That is all feminism asks.
Feminists believe that men and women deserve to be treated equally - not the same, but as equals. And I hope that the women who put down this idea realize that we are not fighting against men, but for women. By putting down the movement for unrelated reasons, it belittles feminism's true purpose. It is not a movement rooted in hate; it is rooted in love for women and men alike. It is a movement that embraces all of humanity and wants each and every person to have an equal voice. It fights for you, whether you ask it to or not.