Guest Writer Susan Elwood
The F-word. What does it truly mean and what does it mean to you? The F-word was something I have come to respect and research more recently in my later collegiate years. Growing up, I never would’ve imagined I would be someone to proudly say the word in describing myself. I was never brought up to believe that it was a good or a bad word however, whenever I saw the word depicted in the media, it seemed to always carry a negative connotation. Recently, the F-word has been talked about in the news with the current hot topics being about domestic violence relating to the NFL, celebrity nude photo leaks, and Emma Watson’s address to the United Nations. I’ve never before been so happy that the F-word has come into the dialogue of so many people. I can only hope that by saying this word, we are paving our way to a time when everyone can call each other F-words in perfect equality. I’ll be the one to start, I am a proud Feminist and hope that you, man or woman, can consider yourself a Feminist as well. What other word did you think I was talking about?
Feminism by definition is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Historically, Feminism has carried a negative connotation to it’s name because of radical Feminists who participated in acts of man-hating. The age of man-hating was perpetuated through a time where even our president, Grover Cleveland, openly pronounced misogynist beliefs such as, “Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote”. Feminism has evolved, grown, and become more educated just as our society and our individuals have. Gloria Steinem, one of the most active and influential Feminists of today, says that “being pro-woman does not demand being anti-man, and we need to recognize this”. The Feminism I support does not hate men, nor does it strive to put men down, it strives for equality for all.
Feminism is more than a pay-gap issue. You’ve heard the statistic that women make on average .77 cents on the dollar to a man doing the exact same job as her. As angry as that makes me, it is not the only reason why I find myself supporting Feminist ideals. Emma Watson made a poignant observation when stating that, “equality will continue to be elusive unless men are invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation”. How can we achieve equality when only half of the world (the women) are invited to speak about gender equality and feminism? Men and women need to realize that this is not just a women’s issue, but an issue of being human.
Both men and women should feel comfortable and free to be people who are sensitive, kind, strong, emotional, and powerful without feeling as though they are breaking a gender-barrier. Fifteen year old, Ed Holtom, wrote a response to the British newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph to speak his mind about his support of feminism earlier this week, “By using words such as ‘girly’ or ‘manly’ we inadvertently buy into gender stereotyping,” he wrote. “We play with toys designed for our gender, we go to segregated schools, we play different sports based on gender, and yet it takes some effort for many people to acknowledge the existence of gender inequality and the injustice it entails for both sexes.” The real progress will be made for gender equality when we decide as a nation and as a species that we will make an active choice to change our language. We need to stop pressuring each other to fit stereotypes which more often than not leaves us feeling like we are unable to effectively express ourselves. We cannot let gender defines us, just as we cannot let the color of our skin, the number on the scale, or the amount of money our family has determine how we are treated by ourselves and by others. When the phrases, “Women can do anything that men can do” or “men can do anything that women can do” turns into “I can do anything” we have made progress towards the equality for all. I challenge you to join me in the support of gender equality in the face of adversity, and for you to start a conversation about this important topic with your family, your friends, and your classmates. The only way we can get rid of the stigma with the word, is to make everyone feel comfortable talking about it. So go on, and shout the F-word the next time you are riding in the back of your mom’s car or when you are at a party with your friends. Everyone’s welcome to the word and I promise you, you will be heard.