Opinion: This Is What Feminism Actually Means

One student’s view on how some view the word, feminism, versus how it should be seen.

The narrative has been destroyed. Who’s fault is it? Maybe it was the “feminazis” or “social justice warriors” that took it too far. Or, maybe it was a smear campaign coming from anti-feminists. Probably both.

“Feminism” is something that needs to be explored and researched before criticized by the conservative and the self-proclaimed. The feminist community has been forced to wear a message that they never wrote. That is why it is essential that everyone knows what being a feminist entails-because you might actually be one.

Here is the dictionary definition of feminism: Noun. The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. A feminist believes that men and women should be treated equally.

Even though feminism is a construct of equality, it is predominantly women that overtake the community. In the United States, 60% of women consider themselves a feminist or a strong feminist. The other 40% of women are not a feminist, anti-feminist, or have no opinion. In the meantime, an astounding 50% of all men in America consider themselves not a feminist, anti-feminist, or have no opinion. Why are the majority of women in America feminists, but the majority of men aren’t?

Put it this way: imagine a world where women filled every spot in government, business, and science. Women brought home “the bacon”, and men were expected to stay home and take care of the kids. Men weren’t allowed to vote, to play tennis, to wear certain clothing, or to even swim. Men were and are scared to go out or to wear certain things for fear of being raped. Men were picked last for every game in gym class because they are “weak.” Men made less money than a woman in the same position. Men weren’t allowed to join the military. Men were told to go back to the kitchen.

Look at the history; look at the facts. To say that women weren’t the *more* oppressed sex is simply incorrect. That was the reality for women, and some aspects stay relevant today. To say that some things aren’t like that anymore is correct; changes were made. The feminist movement was born.

What do feminists ask for? They ask for the opposite of everything listed above, and if it were an alternate universe, men would ask for the same thing: equal rights, pay, opportunities, and expectations.

If you look at the statement alone and can agree with it, that each gender should be treated equally, then you are a feminist.

There are no statistics to support this, but it is probable that if most of the men included in that 50% truly understood the concept of feminism, they would think differently. It is disappointing to see a stigma around the word after it has brought forth so much progress for gender equality. What is this stigma, and why does it have such an impact on the meaning of feminism?

Many seem to think that feminism is a movement driven by anger and aggression. A true feminist would say that the movement is actually driven by emotion and determination. Hatred is not something a feminist wants; hatred is not included in the definition.

Unfortunately, there are self-proclaimed “feminists” that feed the anger and aggression reputation by repeating certain statements that ultimately state that “men are awful”, and “women are the superior sex.” This type of behavior is a real feminist’s enemy. You are not a feminist if you believe that women are better than men. It is this type of rhetoric that gives feminism an ugly face.

There are also certain people that focus on the wrong type of issues; they make a large, toxic statement about things that other people often find annoying and highly offensive. Examples of this include: complaining about Santa Clause being a man, and only caring about white women’s rights while disregarding the rights of black women and other ethnicities, just to name a couple. Real feminism takes into account every woman of every ethnicity and takes more attention and time to serious issues; rape culture, treatment of women in third-world countries, government installments that limit a woman’s control over her body, and actions that further equality among every gender. This unnecessary, toxic breed of feminism is often deemed “white feminism” and is a parasite to feminism’s reputability. When one criticizes feminism, they are probably criticizing this particular breed.

They are not the only ones to blame. 7% of the United States considers itself “anti-feminist.” Almost 20% of the population doesn’t care. Notice that it is often the “anti-feminists” writing articles and creating ideas for the people who identify as “not a feminist” to see. This is what an anti-feminist believes: everything is fine. Everything was fine the way it was, actually, and women should’ve just stayed in the kitchen. As for the people that have no opinion, they are ultimately saying that they do not care about sexism towards both genders, that women were and are oppressed, nor that men and women are equal. This is either a classic case of ignorance and privilege, or they are highly uneducated.

Because of all of this, feminists are branded with a horrible reputation that simply isn’t fair. The term “feminazi” and other ones like it have become increasingly popular, and it’s absolutely astounding that one would compare a group fighting for equality to a group that contributed to the mass murder of millions of people. In the eyes of an anti-feminist, a “feminazi” represents the entire community; it defines feminists as evil, angry, over-the-top. Is it fair to, first of all, stereotype and misuse the concept of feminism? And second, compare its members to some of the cruelest people in history?

Again, feminists fight for equal opportunities, rights, pay, and expectations for all genders. Feminism was built on the construct of the main gender oppression, which is why it is a majority female space. Men would be just as adamant about gender equality if the roles were reversed.

Before criticizing, scrutinizing, and belittling a “feminist” and/or the concept of feminism, do your research. Find out what feminists actually care about, and it is likely that you will agree with a lot of concepts. What feminism really stands for is the part in the pledge of allegiance where we state, “equality for all.”

Editor’s Note: This article shall not disregard sexism towards men. Rape culture and toxic masculinity, to name a few, are serious issues that men should not have to endure. Feminism stands strongly for equality among ALL genders. This article is not meant to minimize sexism towards men, but rather bring forth awareness of it and remind us that feminism benefits everyone.