In the last few years a word which used to carry positive connotations has been transformed through negative associations. Despite its original empowering meaning towards the betterment of society, it is viewed as something repulsive, negative and divisive: feminism.
Why do men and women hate a simple word so much? Why does a simple argument about defending a woman spark the anger of people who use the word ‘’feminist’’ as an insult?
It is true that you can ‘witness’ most of these arguments in the online world, as it is also true that most people aren’t that inclined to talk about their opinions in real life. For example, a recent case with a Youtube blogger that thought the cause of rape is also the victim’s fault: the clothes they wear, where they happen to be, at what time etc. Most of these men characterized everyone that was trying to defend the victims with very offensive words, as well as other unrelated to the argument, nonsensical and ‘how-did-you-conclude-that’ arguments that made the thread truly repulsive.
The funny, or should we say sad, thing is that there were a couple of women supporting the same arguments. It is deeply saddening that people can be so hateful over a matter of unity and human rights. It can be thought that the reasons why people are so divided on the mere mention of the word feminism is because of two main points: They think feminism is either a ‘threat’ towards men or that it is completely unnecessary.
The purpose of this article is to try and erase both of these misconceptions, stating simple and clear facts.
First of all, it needs to be made clear that feminism as a movement was never meant to imply that women are worth more than men, or should have more rights than men. Yes, it is true that some feminists get a bit too aggressive and protective over the term, to the point where it seems that they absolutely hate and despise men. But these are not true feminists. True feminists want the equality, and only that, of the two sexes.
In fact, even if you do not identify as a feminist, you actually might be one: hear it out. Do you think men and women are equal? Do you think that women and men should have equal access to jobs, driving, medical help as men? Do you think a woman should have the right to an abortion, if she has been raped, if she is the victim of incest, or simply because she wants to have control over her body? If your answer to these questions is yes, then, by the definition of the term, you are indeed a feminist. It is that simple. Not believing that women and men are the same: just believing they are equal.
Some people are just so afraid of the word, and so scared to be judged for calling themselves feminists, they forget that their values align with the movement. By conducting research on what feminism actually is, in order to stop basing opinions on sexist social media articles perhaps the negative misconceptions can be altered. It’s no wonder that 86% of British men support equal rights for women in their life. A smaller 74% of women supported the same argument respectively. The amount of people identifying as feminists is only 7% of the same group. However, based on the feminist definition, all of these people should have identified as feminists (Source: The Telegraph).
You are not defined as a feminist by the amount of hair you have on your body, or your sexuality, or because you hate men or oppose being a housewife. No! All you wish for is the equality between genders.
On the other hand, some people support the argument that feminism is simply not needed anymore. If you happen to be a privileged woman or man, it might be hard to identify with the substance and meaning behind the feminist movement. What men and women alike do not understand is that there are people out there living completely different lives than theirs: there are women that are put in situations, or have grown up and still live in places, where their rights are violated every day.
You are not going to be given a list of ‘’the 10 most hostile countries to live in as a woman’’ for example, but it should be noted that in Yemen 14% of the female population gets married before the age of 15 and 52% before the age of 18. Does a 15-year-old know whether she wants to become a housewife with children for the rest of her life or not? And let’s not forget individuals such as Nujood Ali. A woman who fought to get a divorce when getting forcibly married at 9 years old (while also being raped and assaulted by her so called ‘’husband’). A woman (or shall I say a little girl?) that managed to publish a book, in order to raise awareness about child brides and use the proceedings to support girls’ education in Yemen. A woman, however, who only ended up having her father use those proceedings to ‘buy’ two new wives and kick her out of the house instead. That is indeed when we know that we still need feminism.
And if you think feminism is only needed in a third-world-country or a once-in-a-while situation, think again, as Mister Trump was elected as the US president in 2016. Mr. Trump chooses to discriminate against women, by giving the right to employers, universities and colleges to remove birth control from women’s health plans. And on what basis? Some sort of medical research? Clinical results? Certainly Mr. Trump’ s ‘’moral and ethical code’’ doesn’t take into consideration the fact that there are women who need birth control for medical reasons and are now at risk of paying hundreds of dollars for this necessity. And let’s not forget Vice President Mike Pence, who still believes anti-abortion laws, instead of proper education, are going to help young Americans fight promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases.
All in all, ultimately, feminism is not something negative, nor a monster that’s here to devour men, or an outdated, movement from the 15th Century that is not needed anymore. Feminism is needed because discrimination seems to be built within human nature. Rest assured that the day has yet to come for sex discrimination to be eradicated.
Text by by Elpida Komianou
Picture research by Donna Darafshian; featured image from babe.net.