Before I begin this article, I want to make a confession. This hasn’t been easy for me, and I’ve spent many sleepless nights debating whether or not to come out. But I can’t hold it in anymore. So, here it goes…I’m a feminist.
Whew. I feel like an elephant has been lifted from my chest.
All joking aside, why is being a feminist a bad thing? Why do people think of angry, man-hating lesbians who don’t shave and bash stay-at-home moms when they hear the word “feminist?” Why do my guy friends try to convince me that I’m really an egalitarian and not a feminist?
I met one of my guy friends for dinner recently. We chatted about school, music, professors, and then the conversation turned to politics. I talked about how, as a woman and a feminist, there’s no way I can in good conscience vote for someone like Donald Trump. My guy friend looked uncomfortable and tried to convince me to give up my convictions with the following argument: “Well, you don’t hate men, you wear makeup, and you’re not a fanatic. So, you’re really an egalitarian.” I made up an excuse that I had a huge assignment to do and left the table. Otherwise, my stereotypical redhead temper would’ve gotten the better of me.
I’m not ashamed of being a feminist, and no one else should have to be either. Dictionary.com defines feminism as “advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.” Nowhere in that definition does it say that women are superior to men, or that women should have more rights than men. Feminism acknowledges the painful truth that in 2016, women still don’t have the same rights and freedoms as men. I realize that here in the U.S. we’ve come a long way, but we’re not done. The work of feminists will never be done as long as there are people like Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O’Reilly in the public eye. And in other parts of the world, women are treated like chattel. Consider these facts:
Women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man makes.
One out of every six women will be sexually assaulted at some point in her life.
15 million underage girls around the world are forced into marriage every year.
62 million girls are denied the right to an education.
American women serving in the army are more likely to be raped by a comrade than killed by an enemy.
Still think we don’t need feminism?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate men. I know that not all men are sexist or don’t believe in equality. I love to wear makeup and jewelry, and I commend strong women who pursue their passions and take control of their lives. It’s not fair for men to lump all women in the same category, so why should women do the same to men? After all, we’re all equal, so we should all be held up to the same standards. But the fact remains that gender inequality exists, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. We might as well acknowledge it. Otherwise, how can we move forward and make a better world for all people, both men and women?