You Are Not A Feminist, But I Am, For You

You Are Not A Feminist, But I Am, For You

Whether or not you want feminism, you still need it.

I am a feminist. And that is okay.

A fellow Odyssey writer authored the very controversial piece “I Am Not A Feminist, And That Is Okay” about two weeks ago, and I’m pretty much positive you’ve seen it floating around social media since then. Thus far, it has received almost 170,000 shares on the online platform, a feat not many can say they’ve achieved. Writers have responded, readers commented, both in support and in dissent. A majority of the contention and dispute involves some confusion on the history and purpose of feminism, in addition to the fact that her message, though claiming to be anti-feminist, aligns closely with the fundamental beliefs of the movement.

But what I want to say to her is this: I don’t know who you are personally, but reading your articles, I can gather that you are a very kind young woman and an eloquent writer. I sense that you, being a fellow writer, read the works of other writers with an open mind. I’m sure you’ve seen the articles and the comments, trying to convince you that what you wrote it not as accurate as you feel it is. I can also tell that you are a human being, and you are just as entitled to your words, your feelings, and your identity as the next person. I’m sorry the world jumped down your throat. I do not want to give you a history lesson. I do not want to tell you that you are wrong to feel the way that you do. I do not want to try to explain things. I do not want to ‘clear things up.’ I do not want to argue. But in the same way that you choose to actively not pursue feminism, I choose to embrace it. And in the same way that I listened to your reasoning, I need you to listen to mine.

SEE ALSO: 6 Movies You Must Watch If You Consider Yourself A Feminist

Feminism, for me, is about so much more than equal pay. In fact, seeing as I like to write and to travel-- I’m pretty much doomed with the whole ‘pay’ thing. Equal pay is only one topic on an entire spectrum of issues that affects so much more than just gender. My feminism is about equal opportunities. What is more important to me than money? Education. Safety. Health. Choice. I will fight for your right to fall in love and get married and start a family just as hard as I will fight for the next woman’s right to become a CEO.

Even though I am not religious, my feminism does not deny religion. It does not deny the values of the bible. It does not deny what God has taught you.

My feminism does not wish for women to exclusively ‘run the world,’ but it fights for a world where people don’t give a flying freak about whether or not women run the world. My feminism isn’t about removing traditional female roles, it is about saying that tradition does not have to dictate what you or me or she or he has to do.

My feminism is about giving a voice to people who have not had the opportunity to speak or an audience to listen.

My feminism is about equality, yes, but it is also about humanity, which you completely neglected to acknowledge in your article.

I am a feminist-- but I also want to feel loved. I want to be fragile and nurturing sometimes. I want to be strong and aggressive sometimes. I want to be taken care of, but I also want to be independent. I want to be loved. I want a family. I want all these things that you want, and yet I am a feminist. Our biggest difference lies here: I have a title. And with that title comes a support system of both men and women who want me to have all of the above, and more.

But in a way-- I get it. The title ‘feminist’ is met with many unintended connotations, and that is not okay. You don’t want to be a ‘feminist’ because that word is so powerful that it threatens people. You don’t want to be a ‘feminist’ because you don’t want to meet the expectations of the negative ‘feminist’ picture that the very people who are afraid of feminism have fought hard to paint. There is so much negative publicity around the word ‘feminism’, in fact, that people have actually argued to change the name to ‘humanism’ instead. Would you identify with humanism? Because it’s basically the same thing.

The difference is that while feminism often intersects other movements, it is not fair or just to take away the spotlight and the credit from fighting for women simply because some people do not like the word. People have made feminism a dirty word, but that does not mean women should have to give up one of the very few things that is actually about them. Feminism gives women a voice, even the women who choose to criticize it.

And I know that there are always the feminists who are branded ‘bra burners’ and ‘men-haters’. They are the most vocal and the most active and the most talked about because they are the angriest. However, if they are truly feminist, then trust me, they don’t want to tell you what to do either. If they tell you that you have to do or be anything that you don’t want to do or be then they have a very distorted view of feminism-- and to chalk feminism up to that very minuscule population is is the same as saying that all Muslims are like radical Islamic extremist terrorists.

In other words, you can’t.

I am a feminist for the young girls around the world who are forced into marriage at the ripe age of thirteen. I am a feminist for the one out of every five young women who are sexually assaulted in college. I am a feminist for the men who want to be stay-at-home dads but feel like they can’t, because society expects them to be career-oriented. I am a feminist for the lower class African American woman who has worked her ass off her entire life and yet still has to fear violence each and every day of her life. I am a feminist for the 13,000 women and children victims just in Nepal, that are sold into sexual slavery for a mere ninety dollars, and are forced to have sex with up to forty people a day. I am a feminist for the twenty-one innocent transgendered women who were unjustly murdered in 2015-- their only crime being that they were women. I am a feminist for the single mother, who works endlessly and sacrifices everything to make ends meet, and who doesn’t complain about it for even a second. I am a feminist for the young woman who wants to find herself a good husband and raise a family and submit to him completely.

I am a feminist for this much and more. I am a feminist for my friends and family. I am a feminist for my future friends and family. I am a feminist for my future daughters and sons. I am a feminist for you. I am a feminist for me.

And finally-- I’m sorry. Whoever taught you feminism got it horribly wrong. Whoever gave you the idea that you can’t be a feminist and want all of the things that you want at the same time should not be allowed to utter the word ‘feminism’ ever again. I’m scared that at some point, someone in your life allowed you to actively denounce feminism, and that the same person is encouraging others to think the same thing. I’m sorry that you feel like you have to reject the movement that wants the very best for you. I’m sorry that at some point in your life, feminism was made into a dirty word.

I am a feminist. That is okay.

You are not. That is okay.

Because I am a feminist enough for the both of us.

One day, I hope I won’t have to be.

Thank you.

The most important way we can help is to be educated and use our voices. However, if you are looking for more active ways to become involved, please check out some of the following links: (Sex Trafficking)

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I Love Chinese Food! Really? (PART III)

Please don't pressure me to change if you say you welcome me.

Last week I discussed how immigrants are pressured to assimilate by public policies. Now let's look from a different aspect.

Unlike the systematic language policies, popular culture encourages assimilation in a less planned way. Yet, because popular culture is more embedded in people’s daily lives, it potentially influences more people on a daily basis than public policies. This arena not only lacks accurate and positive depictions of immigrants, but it has actually been promoting the dehumanization of immigrants.

Popular media either pokes fun at exaggerated racial stereotypes or only features highly Americanized immigrant characters. For instance, in the popular CBS show 2 Broke Girls, the only immigrant character, Han Lee is a Korean American. He has an exaggerated accent, limited knowledge of American culture, short stature, and a lack of masculinity. He is the constant target of ruthless jokes from major characters, like Max Black and Caroline Channing. In other words, the audience is supposed to look down upon this stereotypical poorly-assimilated immigrant.

On the other hand, the recent ABC show Fresh Off the Boat features, in a positive light, the struggles of a Chinese immigrant family, the Huangs, to embrace their “American dream” and assimilate into American society. Incidentally, all these “immigrants” speak perfect English. The Huangs, in fact, teach immigrant viewers the way towards success – assimilation. Popular culture’s representation of immigrants, like the ridiculous Han Lee and the “hard-working” Huangs, covertly privileges well-assimilated immigrants and dehumanizes immigrants in their original form.


When I was in high school preparing for American colleges, I had an American teacher. He was very well respected among us. The ones chosen to be in his class were seen as extraordinary and promising, while those not chosen strove to fit his standard so that he might set his eyes on us. And what was his standard? Excel in English literature and AP classes.

I remember when my AP grades improved so much that this teacher, for the first time, spoke to me and even invited me to join him and his chosen students for dinner. I was so thrilled as if I had just won a lottery. In our minds, he was the epitome of America – the country we were dreaming of. Being chosen by him assured us that we could realize our American dreams.

After all, this American saw the potential in us; this must have meant something, right? And one day, the teacher suddenly decided that everyone must only speak English at school. His chosen students were terrified because being caught speaking Chinese would mean never seeing an "A" in this teacher’s class again. While for the rest of us, we felt ashamed to ever speak Chinese in his presence again.

The immigrants in America are like me and my classmates in high school. Some of them are lucky enough to be the chosen ones. They can stay and maybe even thrive without too much trouble. Their American dreams are within reach.

Others are not so lucky.

They may just manage to survive and are struggling to be recognized. But, all immigrants are bided by American rules. They must work extra hard to be chosen. America is like that high school teacher. He promised us a beautiful future in America. He said he did everything so that we may thrive in the land of opportunities.

We believed and respected him.

But this teacher did not want the real us. He wanted to change us. Most Americans said they welcome immigrants, but immigrants are expected to change and cater to American taste.

They must leave behind their own cultures and languages.

They must fill their minds with American the spirit because otherwise the “teacher” will not even set eyes on them.

Their dream of becoming an “A” student – making a good fortune and be successful – depends on the “teacher’s” favor. The way to their American dreams is to assimilate.

However, even hard work does not guarantee an “American-dream-come-true future”. I tried. I significantly improved my grades. I could talk fluently in English. The teacher finally set eyes on me. He invited me to his chosen group dinner! But he never fulfilled his promise.

Many Americans, especially in today’s political atmosphere, loudly announce their acceptance and welcoming of immigrants. Among these are my American friends, who constantly confess their love of Chinese food. Their love for Chinese food, like some Americans’ encouragement of immigrants, only extends to the Americanized versions.

Behind the mask of a “heart-warming” smile towards immigrants, America actually privileges assimilation, through constructing a desirable “model immigrant” image, systematic language policies, and ludicrous popular culture representations.

Before they ever claim to whole-heartedly welcome immigrants again, Americans should probably consider: whether they genuinely think so, or are they simply paying a lip service and welcome only Americanized immigrants?

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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