Politics May 25, 2017
What feminism really entails...
There’s no denying it. It’s hard to find an accurate feminism definition or answer to the question, “What is a feminist?” Why? The main issue is that people have various different feminist definitions…many of which aren’t even correct.
So how should you really define feminism? Here are four answers to the controversial question, “What is a feminist?”
When you imagine a female feminist, what picture appears in your mind? A man-hater who refuses to wear heels or the color pink? Unfortunately, many people wrongly assume that feminists hate men or mainstream “femininity.” However, feminists actually hate gender stereotypes and norms of any kind.
What does this mean? First of all, saying (or assuming) that “all men are pigs” isn’t feminist; it’s actually anti-feminist since it’s based on gender stereotypes. (Not to mention that feminism isn’t about superiority…more on that later).
Secondly, feminists don’t keep women from “being women” or men from “being men.” Instead, feminists point out that your biological sex (male or female) doesn’t determine your gender (being feminine or masculine). Instead, your masculinity or feminity is often formed by social pressures (like the belief that pink is for girls and blue is for boys). As a result, feminism says that if you’re a woman who loves pink and works at home, that’s fine. (And you can even still be a feminist!) And if you’re a man who likes pink, a woman who likes monster trucks, or any other mix of untraditional and traditional gender norms, that’s awesome too!
How many times have you heard people assume that someone is gay just because they’re a feminist? The truth is, the feminism definition has nothing to do with sexual orientation. In the 1960s and 1970s, Lesbian Feminism did emerge, mainly thanks to the exclusion of gay women in the mainstream feminist movement. Some feminists promoting separatism (or the total cutting of ties with men) also embraced lesbianism. However, you do not have to be a lesbian (or gay man) to be a feminist, and vice versa.
This wrongly assumed tie between feminism and sexual orientation may even prevent people from accepting the feminist title. Everyday Feminism Managing Editor Melissa Fabello certainly thinks so, according to her “5 Reasons You Don’t Want To Call Yourself A Feminist” video. As she explains, people might reject “feminism” because they’re afraid “people might think you’re gay – which is cool, unless you’re not.” So let’s just do everyone a big favor and realize sexual orientation doesn’t appear in an accurate feminist definition.
Sure, feminism is often only associated with women’s rights. However, modern feminism is also often intersectional. This means that feminism is also concerned with how other parts of a women’s identity – like her race, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation – shapes her experiences of discrimination or oppression.
Perhaps one of the best, and most recent, examples of intersectional feminism occurred with the Women’s March on Washington. Although the movement was initially critiqued for lacking women of color, it later featured leaders like Muslim advocate Linda Sarsour, African-American civil rights activist Tamika Mallory and Latina activist Carmen Perez. As feminism gains more diversity, feminists also have to consider their own privileges – for instance, how white feminists could be overshadowing their colored sisters within the feminist movement.
So, when you’re answering the question, “What is a feminist?”, it’s important to remember that feminists don’t just fight for women’s rights. They’re also considering how other forms of oppression impact people’s daily lives.
Finally – the feminism definition you’ve probably been waiting for. To put it simply, feminism is the “theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” (Thank you Merriam Webster Dictionary). People often paint feminists as women trying to “dominate” men or women who think they are superior to men. In fact, though, feminists are simply those who believe in the equality of men and women in every aspect of daily life.
Because the feminism definition is often misconstrued, many people are feminists…but reject that title. Instead, they say that they’re humanists or even that they believe in gender equality – but wouldn’t call themselves a feminist. Unfortunately, we constantly see this in celebrities. For instance, Demi More says, “I am a great supporter of women, but I have never really thought of myself as a feminist, probably more of a humanist because I feel like that’s really where we need to be.”
What do we need more of? Women like Beyonce who know the real meaning of feminism and aren’t afraid to accept the feminist label!
Before more people start stepping up, however, we need to step in and remind others of the true feminism definition. Feminism is not hating men or femininity, being of a certain sexual orientation, or ignoring other forms of discrimination. It’s just believing that men and women are equally awesome.
And who doesn’t want to see a future full of people believing in that?
Send this to a friend