Saturday, July 13, 2013
"Do you believe that women should have the right to vote?" she would ask me.
"Do you think that women and men should be paid the same for doing the same job?"
"Do you believe that women are any less important than men?"
"You're a feminist."
Yet I would still go on claiming that I was most definitely not a feminist and that feminism was just this grasping attempt for certain militant women to do their best to overrun all the males in the country.
Then I had some sense knocked into me. I'm not really sure what convinced me that I'm a feminist. It was probably the combined efforts of my best friend and how much time I spend reading and, therefore, coming across literature that explains the things I don't really understand. (Also, Youtube. There are some pretty kick-ass feminists on there that have helped me straighten out a thing or two in the way I think. ie. Laci Green, HayleyGHoover, etc.)
If you look up "feminism" in the dictionary, this is what you'll find:
It is "the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, societal, and economic equality to men."
It's not trying to be better than men. It's not trying to dominate the world, become lesbians, and burn our bras. (I happen to like my bras. I don't intend to get rid of them while they still have use to me.) It's about being treated like we are also human. Feminism is about being respected as fellow human beings, and not as objects.
This is why I'm so confused when I meet someone who claims they're not a feminist. Or, at least, I would be confused if I hadn't gone through the same thing a few years ago. The problem we're facing here can be narrowed down to this:
People haven't been educated in what it means to be a feminist. The things that they have been told are wrong and it's extremely difficult to refute the things that are so fully ingrained in our minds from birth.
It's strange and sad to me when I have conversations with other women about women's rights or dealing with a particular misogynistic asshole who has shown his deep disrespect for women very clear. These women are always on the same page all the way until I drop the word "feminist." It's like I've just called them a terrorist!
"That's not even feminism! That's just respecting women!" they tell me. Or, "Actually, I'm not a feminist, but I agree with everything else you said."
And when I explain that women's rights/respecting women as equal humans IS WHAT FEMINISM IS ALL ABOUT, I get that blank expression that tells me they're not even really sure what I'm talking about anymore. I just have to shrug and walk away, hoping that seed I just left will take root and they'll eventually look back and say, "Oh! That's what she was talking about!"
I'm a feminist and I'm proud to call myself that. Feminism isn't a dirty word. It isn't an insult. In fact, it ought to be a compliment. It means I'm not afraid to state that I will fight for the rights of women. It means I respect my own gender as well as the opposite sex. And there's nothing wrong with that.