Feminism Isn't a Bad Word

By Hsing Tseng on June 28, 2013

Is “feminism” a bad word? A good portion of the internet and of society would argue such. However, this is based upon a great amount of misconceptions about feminism that have been perpetuated through media.

What is feminism? Merriam-Webster defines it as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Yet, I know many people of all genders that say “I’m all for men and women being equal, but I’m no feminist.” Some even say we don’t need feminism in a modern day and age where men and women are basically equal.

Sometime I find myself talking about feminist issues with friends only to meet with uncomfortable shuffling and awkward half-smiles.

“I’m all about equality, but I’m not a feminist,” they say.

“You can’t be about equality and not be a feminist,” I reply.

Feminism is the belief that all people should be treated equally, but so many are afraid of being labelled “crazy feminists.”

They are gravely mistaken.

A feminist is not the media-perpetuated image of the single, hairy-legged, family-hating, lesbian, liberal forever-on-her-period misandry-lover. For starters, all feminists are created equal but we have very different experiences. The insult that our passion comes from being on our periods is imbecilic and childish; many feminists aren’t even female. Some feminists are stay-at-home moms, some are single working women. We are Right-wingers, Left-wingers, uber-feminine, uber-masculine, older, younger – diverse in so many ways. Some of us are outspoken about feminism, others supporters.

Most importantly, feminism is not about hating men. The idea perpetuated by icons such as Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, the “I don’t want to be labelled as feminist because I like men,” idea, is misguided. The concept that feminists just want to “put men down” is also misguided. Feminism is about empowering women. It is about recognizing that patriachy affects us all and that we should take action to change that.

“I understand feminism, but I don’t hate men,” say some of my friends.

“Neither do I,” I say.

“You bleeding feminist!” I’ve been called on the internet. But people don’t realize that “feminist” isn’t a dirty word. It’s not something to be ashamed of.

Feminism is alive and well today. We see it in Megan Kelly challenging the sexism perpetuated by her colleagues at Fox News. We see it in Wendy Davis and Leticia Van De Putte in the filibuster this week against anti-reproductive legislation in Texas. We see it in Julia Gillard defending herself in Australian Parliament. We see it in the ongoing fight against rape culture and victim-blaming.

We should embrace the word “feminism” instead of fearing it. “Feminism” is not a dirty word. It’s simple enough to understand – if you believe men and women should be equal, then you are a feminist. Unless, of course, you are too scared to be part of a growing movement of solidarity to empower women and trans* folk of all backgrounds, in which case, you probably aren’t a feminist to begin with.


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