Bonnie: I want to be a proud feminist
I was once proud to call myself a feminist. I felt empowered because I felt like I was a strong woman who longed to be successful in life. I wanted a career because I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to be able to provide for myself in life and not rely on a man. I was a proud feminist because I believe that people should have equal rights regardless of race, gender or ethnicity.
A simple definition of a feminist by dictionary.com is someone who is “advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.”
Upon reading the above definition, I thought to myself, “Well, doesn’t everyone advocate for that? This isn’t the 1950s.” So to me, identifying as a feminist was something I was proud of, and I never thought anyone could say anything negative about advocating equal rights between genders.
However, recently, I’ve felt reluctant to label myself as a feminist. This is because of the stigma that goes along with the term and the concept of feminism today.
Feminism in the western world has come in three waves. The first occurred in the end of the 19th century into the 20th century, and it focused on advocating for women’s suffrage and property rights. The second wave occurred during the early 1960s, and it focused on reproductive rights and called attention to domestic violence and marital rape.
While the second wave did many good things, it was not as successful as the first or third wave because it excluded lesbians and women of color. The third wave of feminism is the most recent, occurring in the early 1990s and continuing to the present. This wave focused on changing stereotypes and language in regards to women. The third wave also improved on the actions of the second wave.
The women of today’s society have benefited from the work of early feminists, yet many of them now lash out against the term “feminist.” It is wrong for women to take advantage of all the work done by previous feminists, but reject the term “feminists“ because of the implications of it in society today.
The word “feminist” has turned almost into an insult. There is a stigma that women who are feminists must be man-haters or simply women who want the rights of men but still expect them to pay for everything.
There is a common misconception that feminists advocate for women’s rights but are completely against men’s rights, hence the idea that they are “man-haters.” This is absolutely not true. Feminists just want equal rights to their male counterparts and not to be treated as subservient.
Maybe some feminists are more extreme than others, but just because women may show or advocate for feminism in different ways does not mean that it should be negative. Wanting to be considered equal in our patriarchal society should never be considered a bad thing. It is wrong to classify types of feminists because a feminist is just a person that thinks women should be equal to men. Crazy right?
Being called a feminist should not be an insult. It should not be a way to call someone a derogatory name because they advocate for simple civil rights. Feminists are not man-haters, we’re just people. Using feminism as an insult is making people such as myself feel ashamed instead of proud to be a feminist.
As a society, we should be prideful of the work previously done for our rights by strong women in the 20th century, but if there is still a negative implication to feminism then there is still much to be done. Men and women alike should be able to label themselves as feminists without worrying about being perceived as something they aren’t because wanting equal rights for each gender is not a bad thing.
Would you like to increase opportunities for women and people of color in journalism? Now is your chance to support the Emerald’s program by helping us send reporter Ryan Nguyen and Emily Goodykoontz to the annual Investigative Reporters and Editors conference this June!