FEMINISM. This is a word that divides a lot of people, but is also a word that unites many people. If we’re being honest, (which we should be because honesty is the best policy) a lot of people get feminism wrong. Due to the root of the word, “fem,” people are quick to make assumptions that feminism puts women above everyone else. Some people think that feminists are “man haters.” Some people may even think feminism is just a word with a void meaning. All of these people would be wrong.
As defined by writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a feminist is “the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes,”
The definition is seriously simple, but feminism is a complicated subject, which causes many people to ask why it is called feminism instead of just equal rights.
You see, calling feminism anything other than feminism intrinsically denies the fact that women are the ones who have been struggling over all the years. Men are automatically born into a position of privilege. Many men do not realize this.
Over history, women have continually been held down and denied. Denied the right to vote. Denied the right to govern our own damn bodies. Denied equal pay for doing the same jobs. Denied freedom to express sexuality or lack thereof. Denied the right to dress as we please. Denied anything we have asked for, while men are served everything on a silver platter with a side of piping hot entitlement.
But things get more complicated when the conversation is put into situations concerning race. White women are more privileged than women of other races. As a white woman, I always check my privilege. Yes, I feel oppressed by the patriarchy, because women have systematically been held down, but I also know that I do not struggle with the issues of racism my sisters struggle with.
Feminism is not just equality for some. Feminism is equality for all. As feminists, we cannot exclude anyone. Trans people. People of color. Lesbians. Bisexual people. Gender non-conforming people. Intersex people. Kids. Adults. Teenagers. Disabled people. People from different religions and backgrounds. People. All people.
To be a feminist is to accept everyone and treat them all as equals. I try very hard to treat every person I meet with love and compassion. To treat every one as my equal. To respect every person I come across. And you know why?
Because I am a feminist.
I wear this title proudly, no matter what others may think. Feminism is something I have believed in strongly since I was a child, though I have not always had the vocabulary to express it.
I think we all should be feminists, and we should all be a little kinder to each other, too.