It would be an understatement to say that there has been a lot of debate concerning the word ‘feminism’ and what it means to be a ‘feminist’. To identify yourself as a feminist today would be throwing yourself into a pack of wolves. Multiple packs. A pack of wolves that will give you abuse for being a ‘feminazi’ or a ‘man-hating lesbian’ with no other aims than to promote misandry and overturn the current society into a matriarchal one. However, you could also be throwing yourself into the pack of wolves who do believe in these values, because, let’s be honest, stereotypes do stem from somewhere. You could also be throwing yourself into a pack of wolves that battle oppression with peaceful means and thought provoking words. Either way, identifying as a feminist has always meant that an explanation of what being a feminist means to you must follow.
I remember being a few years younger and identifying as a feminist. I identified as 100% feminist and full of anger at the unjust, oppressed world that I live in. I admit, knowing what I know now, that I didn’t quite understand how loaded that word was, nor did I understand what the fundamental principle of being a feminist is. I was a feminist because I wanted to not be treated different to the boys around me. I was a feminist because I didn’t want to be afraid of being raped. Those are still the reasons why I am a feminist today, and in my opinion, are all valid reasons as to why I should be a feminist. But back then, I was also a feminist because I didn’t like that men had all the power and I thought that our world would work more efficiently if men had just got their heads out of their asses and let women take their places. I know now that when I had called myself a feminist, although attempting to battle this injustice, I was actually supporting misandry and matriarchy.
If you ask me now if I’m a feminist, I’d tell you that I am, albeit probably a naive one. I am a feminist. To me, being a feminist should mean being a person who believes in, and advocates for, equal rights and opportunities for men and women, socially, culturally, and economically. Key word: equal. I feel that because there are so many interpretations of the word feminism, I must to define it for myself. For some people, it means what I thought feminism was before: misandry and matriarchy. For some people, it means what it means to me. There are many more ways of interpreting feminism, hell, there’s even women against feminism who believe the same things I do. So does that make me a feminist or a woman against feminism?
After being exposed to different sides of feminism, I found myself disgusted by some of the actions of those who call themselves feminists; I have seen posts online from women who will kill their child if they have son, or posts of women congratulating other women for abusing men, physically and mentally, and calling it ’empowering’. The word feminist and feminism has become so twisted because of the fact that it has been through hell and back, interpreted in so many different ways that the fundamental meaning of it has been lost. I believe that it is safe to say that the fundamental meaning of being a feminist is to advocate men and women to have equal rights, historically for women to have the vote, and not hatred of men. Being a feminist should be about empowering women and girls in societies in which there is a distinct cultural gap between men and women and the fact that their social standing and economic worth is different because of their sex so that their sex isn’t the reason for their disadvantages. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that women and men should be paid the same if a man is genuinely more qualified for a job than a woman is. All the same, I don’t think that a woman should be paid less than a man for a job she is equally qualified in. I also don’t think that the stats we get shown are necessarily all that accurate because the average wage of women disregards the diversity of jobs that women do compared to men. For example, if more women choose to drop out of jobs that require more hours, but also more pay, because they have children and they choose their child over the job, as opposed to men who choose to work instead of staying at home, then, the stats becomes skewed as it fails to account for such environmental factors.
I like wearing make-up, and dressing up, and going out on dates where the guy pays, and cooking, and painting my nails. That shouldn’t make me less of a feminist. Or not make me a feminist. Granted, the guy paying on the date is because I am constantly financially crippled rather than upholding a sexist ‘tradition’. I like all these things that are stereotypically defined as ‘feminine’, and I should still be allowed to call myself a feminist because I believe in giving women the opportunity to decide for themselves who they are, what they want, who they want, how they want to spend their life. That is what being a feminist means to me.
photo credit [x]
Written By: Mint Kovavisarach