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Is Feminism a Dirty Word?

Feminism: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.

This is the Miriam Webster dictionary definition of feminism, but with this word, in particular, that definition never seems to be enough. In layman’s terms, feminism is just a synonym for equality, which is why it’s odd that the word has such negative connotations for so many people. Is it because it sounds too feminine or girly? Is it because society is historically afraid of women, especially empowered women?

Whatever the reason, it’s time we destigmatize the term, because every single person on this planet should be a feminist.

Opponents of feminism like to throw around insulting, sexist phrases in an attempt to belittle the movement, but it is probably because they don’t understand what the word really means. Many women are even hesitant to call themselves feminists for fear of being labeled a “man-hater,” “feminazi,” “bitch,” or etc. But when did feminism become the worst F-word we know?

Despite what many seem to have conjured up out of nowhere, the term in no way implies that women want to be above men or to overpower men in any way, and is so much more about female empowerment than female domination. Asking for equality, after centuries without it, isn’t asking for too much.  

Here is what we know: it is 2017 and women in Saudi Arabia gained the legal right to drive less than a week ago. Only six percent of all rape cases in Great Britain are prosecuted. Over half of the killings of American women annually are committed by a current or former romantic partner, or someone she is acquainted with. One in three women worldwide will experience rape or abuse in her lifetime. Out of those who are physically hurt, only 34 percent received medical compensation.

And despite all of this, according to the Fawcett Society’s State of the Nation 2016 report, 67 percent of adults admitted they were “sympathetic” to the feminist cause, but only 7 percent described themselves as “feminists.”

It’s heartbreaking to hear that the overwhelming majority of people prefer being passively sympathetic when they could be actively supporting a cause that needs allies like a car needs gas. Complacency kills progress and the more we ignore feminism, the bigger the issue gets.

The end goal of feminism is that we will no longer need it. When men and women are actually equal to each other socially, economically, and politically, the term becomes obsolete. And that’s kind of what anyone who calls themselves a feminist wants: to not need to label themselves a feminist anymore, because everyone will be.

But the problem won’t go away on its own. Right now, no matter what gender you are, you still need feminism. We need feminism because society still believes rapists over their rape victims. We need feminism because of child marriage. We need feminism because of the wage gap. We all need feminism because America has never had a female president. It is a global issue, it is an intersectional issue, it is about love and peace and freedom and change, and if we do not listen to it, we will never move forward.

Featured Image by Linzi on Flickr

Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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