What Exactly Is Feminism?

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What does it mean to be a feminist? For many, the idea of feminism brings to mind the image of women with unshaved armpits and lady bits, burning bras alongside their dreadlocked sisters and spewing hatred for men and an establishment that devalues women.

However, as a modern day feminist, I can tell you that I sit here, typing away with my hair brushed and pits shaved, wearing a lovely little number from Victoria’s Secret without a single hateful thought for any man. Because feminism and feminists are so much more than the narrow stereotypes that they have been squeezed into. When did society put such a negative stigma on such a necessary movement?

Feminism, at its core, is the belief that no gender should be deemed superior than the other, that all genders should be considered equal and treated as such. Now that doesn’t sound so bad does it? Not such a completely radical idea? If I recall correctly, there have been numerous successful movements in the past 100 years that were based on the premise of equality. I don’t know when or where in the long history of feminism that society colored feminists as man haters on an estrogen fueled mission to take down the opposite sex. That is not the goal. Feminists don’t want to bring men down and insight a high-heeled tyranny. Feminists simply believe that women have every right to be on the same level as men in every aspect. Equality people, that’s their MO.

And while some feminists may go about achieving that equality by burning their bra as an homage to the brave ladies of the 60’s, or by shaving their heads, throwing on their Doc Martens and committing to a life of androgyny (more power to you sisters, you rock that scalp!), or engaging in other drastic demonstrations of their beliefs, many feminists, myself included, take a subtler approach. My belief is your message doesn’t have to be the loudest or the most radical, it just has to be honest and impassioned. I fight for feminism via my keyboard. And hey, I may not be standing on a soapbox outside of the White House demanding equality for my gender, but I was still able to reach you and get you to read this far. That, to me, is one more little victory for the feminist campaign.

So how do you know if you are a feminist? It is really not all that complicated. No soul searching required. No epiphanies, no grand Ah-Ha moment. Caitlin Moran, author of the New York Times Bestseller, “How To Be A Woman”, posited this question quite eloquently in her book. “Do you have a vagina and do you want to be a feminist? If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations! You’re a feminist,” Moran stated, clear as day. It’s really quite that simple. Feminists want the right to their own bodies, a right that has never been withheld from men at any point in history.

And here is what I love most about feminism. Get ready for your world to be utterly rocked: You don’t need to have a vagina to be a feminist! That’s right, folks, men can be feminists as well! Following Moran’s lead, I call attention to all of the men of the world. Do you love someone with a vagina? Now I know it may be challenging to think about your mother, or sister, or best gal pal as having a vagina but I assure you, they do. Do you want the women in your life to have control of their vagina, or do you want their vagina regulated by another man? If you answered no to my last question, then sir, you are a feminist. And that’s great! That means you believe in equality! It does not mean you are not masculine, or that you are “soft”. It means that you are an informed, modern, member of the 21st century who thinks that gender inequality in antiquated bullshit and I applaud you for that.

Modern day feminism is for everyone. It is a movement that is necessary to the very freedom and democracy that this nation is founded on. We all owe it to ourselves to rise from the ashes of antiquity and live our lives on the basis of equality and fairness. And the first step towards that? Shedding our ignorance and getting the facts straight.

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