FEMINISM - THE NEW F-WORD
It’s March in the year 2015 and just a few days ago, I had an argument with a male friend about how he thought something I said wasn’t lady-like.
The male, a modern guy in his mid-twenties, felt uncomfortable with the fact that I used the word “bro” in discussion. The conversation, which was part of an exchange within a group chat of nine other people, seven of them being male, wasn’t taking place for any particular reason. Just some jokes and memes being sent amongst friends. My angered reaction quickly turned the chat into a debate. A debate I exited abruptly because I was uncovering parts of myself that they’d never seen and I wasn’t ready to explain.
This is an ode to feminism.
All words have power, but the power they have is the power that they are given. During the advent of the women’s rights movement, the preferred term was women’s liberationist, but after it received a bad name it was replaced with feminism…which, needless to say, also caught a bad name. What comes attached to bad names and reputations? Stereotypes and perceived ideas - those that continue to feed the stigmas, taint the senses and promote the ignorance that has surrounded it since the suffrage movement.
Can feminism be “cleansed” of its appointed infamy? Given that people have resisted the movement for centuries and still mostly want to shove all feminists in Ms. Trunchbull’s chokey, probably not. But instead of adding fuel to a fire people condemn for burning, why not let it remind them how much warmer they’d be if they stood around it for a minute?
I can understand why it can be difficult for some to view feminism in a positive light. Prior to opening my mind and doing some research, I gave it a few side-eyes of my own. When I decided to separate the definition of the movement from the actual movement itself, it occurred to me that it could be challenging for anyone to stand on either side of the fence.
I’m not sure if I could adopt “feminist” as a personal title, but I do know that I stand by what it advocates for….
…For the fact that I shouldn’t have to compromise my vocabulary for anyone of any gender - for being 12 years-old, already confused about puberty, and being told to take cat calls as compliments, even if they made me feel uncomfortable - for being shepherd by the matriarchs of my family to a path of being solely a woman of her household - for my mother, who took her own path and at 53 is a college graduate, mastered professional and happy wife for the past 27 years - for being a freshman in an all girls high school and being told there was no reason for me to “fix myself up” everyday; there were no boys there anyway - for transferring to a co-ed high school and being told to dress modestly because there were boys at_ this_ school - for the girls who didn’t listen and had their immodesty to blame for being violated - for being allowed to sit out during gym sports, but watching my male classmates be aggressively encouraged to play well - for buying my first pair of Spanx in college because if I didn’t have body image issues before, living in a co-ed dorm hall changed that - for the glamorization of the bottle girl - for the fact that her hiring decision was made by the measurements of her body and not those of her resume - for being asked how many bodies I have while getting to know someone romantically - for the people who questioned if I was going through a tough time or sorting out my sexuality after I got a pixie-cut - for an employer inquiring if my “time of the month” was to blame for my bad attitude and not being able to tell him it was actually his chauvinist remarks that set me off.
Feminism? I’m here for it.
You don’t have to be down, but understand that feminism is not misandry. Recognize that every organization has groups of passionate advocates, extremists and radicals alike; not all feminists are out burning bras and refusing to shave. Realize that the movement has come a very long way since it’s inception. That because of the bravery of both the women AND men who truly believe in the cause, advancements are continuously being made. As women living in today’s day and age, we have more options than any generation before us. You don’t have to lend a hand, but try to make mental way for feminism being the reason for the possibility of absolute gender equality.
Art by RaspberryLeaves.