The Meaning Of Feminism
October 22, 2021
We were in the car coming home from my grandparents house. It was a late March night and everyone was tired, but we still had a twenty minute drive ahead of us. My parents were silent in the front and my little sister beside me had been quiet for so long, she was probably asleep. Twelve year old me didn’t like this eerie silence, so I leaned forward. “Dad, are you a feminist?” I whispered. One of my friends had used the word recently in school and after a brief google search I learned it was someone that supported equality, which of course I did. However, I didn’t know any guys that were feminists, even though any and all genders can be feminists.
“I don’t think guys can be feminists, sweetie.” He replied and after assuring him they could, he agreed, “I guess so.” But something about the way he said it struck me funny. It didn’t matter to him, he didn’t want to talk about it. But the more I talked to my feminist friends, the more sense feminism made to me. And the more I got involved in it, the more awkward it became to talk about it with my parents. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are wonderful people. They support me and my sister in everything we do and want the best for us. They believe in equality, but they don’t think I face any problems that a boy wouldn’t. And the more people I’ve talked to, the more I’ve realized that many people just don’t see the need for feminism and/or think it’s all about hating men.
To me, feminism means supporting equality for women. In America, women have equal legal rights (voting, rights to own property, ect), but they do not have equal economic (gender wage gap) or social rights (how I am portrayed, beauty standards, family expectations, ect). This is not okay. Although my gender might not limit me from the major things in my life (career, education & family), I feel the effects of being female everyday. Maybe it’s a comment on the bus, or a judgment that guys wouldn’t get, or a “joke” that’s not funny. Either way, women have to deal with so many judgments the men don’t.
Feminism is only about making sure we stop this from happening so that future generations don’t have this problem. It isn’t about killing all men or that women are the best gender, it’s about making sure that women and men are treated equally – both legally and socially. So when I say I’m a feminist – that’s what I mean; I shouldn’t be treated differently because of my gender.
As a middle schooler, my whole idea of feminism and its importance changed drastically. In elementary school there were little things (teasing of girls when I guy liked them, girls being “bossy” and “sassy”, while guys were “leader”, ect) as there always will be, but it always seemed equal. When I got to middle school, that all changed. Kids were more grown up and with that growing up came the stereotypes and sexist jokes. I hear the word “rape” used at least once everyday and its a serious problem – not something that should be causally thrown around as a joke. Not to mention the running joke of guys slapping girl’s butts and thinking it okay. It’s not and part of feminism is making sure women feel comfortable, especially in what is supposed to be a learning environment. Saying things like “oh yeah, she has big options” or other remarks that wouldn’t be said to guys are not okay, but sadly an everyday occurrence at EMS.
We have made so much progress in the last few hundred years towards achieving gender equality, but we still have a long way to go and it truly saddens me when people ridicule feminism, claiming it’s not needed. To me, feminism means that even though women and men are different, they deserve the same levels of respect and the sad reality is that women are still treated less than men and ignoring this problem won’t make it go away – so join the fight and become a feminist!