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Feminism 101

There is no excuse not to identify as a feminist.

It’s 2016 and I’m tired of hearing girls dismiss and demean the term because they claim to “I love guys, so I can’t be a feminist”! There are so many misconceptions (mainly perpetuated by men) about the movement and the definition of the word, and it makes me so sad to see women basically working against themselves because they don’t understand it.

Feminism, in the simplest of terms and most basic of definitions, is the advocacy of women’s rights on political, social, and economic grounds equal to men. That’s literally it. Nothing about women being better than men or making the world a matriarchy or never shaving again. A feminist is someone who wants women to have the same rights and opportunities as men.

“But women don’t need feminism!” You might think. “We can vote and go to school and do everything a man can.”

There are a lot of things wrong with that school of thought. First off, I hope you take a moment to really enjoy the aforementioned privileges, because you wouldn’t have them without feminism.  When you discredit it, you’re disrespecting the work women before you did to ensure you have an easier future than them. It’s also a very Western world view–in a lot of countries, women still can’t do those things. The rape rate in India is through the roof, genital mutilation still exists in Africa, and domestic abuse runs rampant almost everywhere. These are all feminist issues that might not apply in developed countries (though we have problems of our own) like America, but they’re incredibly pressing. If not for anyone you know, you should be a feminist for those girls.

The concept of feminists being man haters isn’t anything new. In a patriarchal society where men control and distort pretty much everything, the worst thing we as women can do is hate them. Feminism is the greatest existing threat to patriarchal society, and it will do anything to discredit it and make it see like a joke. Take a look at some of the vintage comics (most of them are from the early 1900s) below:

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These were made during a time when women were struggling for equality, a time when they couldn’t even vote for the next leader of their country. What do they tell you? The reinforce idea that feminists are ugly, unreasonable, and man loathing, all concepts that have unfortunately carried over to today’s world. So whenever you find yourself thinking these thing about feminists, remember that it’s exactly what the patriarchy wants you to think.

The work isn’t over yet. As of 2014, 1 out of 6 American women will be the victim of a completed or attempted sexual assault; there are 468 bills regulating women’s bodies and none on men’s; female celebrities’ pictures are still leaked and slut shaming ensues. Feminism got us to where we are today, but we still need it. So the next time someone rolls their eyes and sneers when the term “feminist” comes up, don’t buy into it. Remember that that’s exactly what the system wants. Remember all the women before you who worked so hard for your future. Remember that the fight is not over.

I myself have never been bale to find out precisely what feminism is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat. — Rebecca West

 

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