Trying to talk about feminism, for me, is really difficult. I sputter and search for the right words to do the term and the movement itself justice. I wrote my first column about feminism last year, and it was possibly one of the hardest, yet most rewarding pieces I’ve ever written. But even writing about it presents a challenge: having to cleanly organize all of my thoughts and feelings about this one matter and put them into words is daunting. Really, I just want to do right by feminism.
But where to start? Well, probably with the admission that yes, I am a feminist. This should come as no surprise for two reasons:
1. I believe that men and women should have social, economic and political equality.
2. I believe that women, like men, are human beings and deserve to be treated as such.
Because of those beliefs, I consider myself a feminist. And out of all the people I’ve met in my life, I’ve never heard anyone disagree with those two ideas. However, I have only a handful of friends who consider themselves feminists.
At this point in the column, I would probably ask why that is. But I already know the answer: feminism is a dirty word. It’s spoken in hushed tones or hurled as an insult at women by the likes of Rush Limbaugh. That’s because, somehow, the meaning of feminism has been twisted and gnarled to the point where it’s considered a negative thing.
Of course, feminists hate men. Also, they’re bra-burning lesbians. Oh, and they seek world domination. Yeah, that’s totally what a feminist is. But really, those definitions are boxes that feminists have been shoved into so that they can be more easily stereotyped. What I’m trying to say is what generations upon generations of feminists before me have said, and what generations after me will continue to say: anyone can be a feminist.
So, you might be asking, what’s the real definition of feminism? Well, it might be easier to say what it can be: feminism can be passing out flyers and raising awareness about the high rate of sexual assault in the U.S. It can be calling out people on Twitter who slut-shame women for wearing whatever they want, wherever they want. It can be watching the Grammy’s and disagreeing with how women are objectified or how they objectify themselves. For me, it’s using my words, however insignificant.
Feminism, really, is what you make it. It can be soft as a whisper or loud as an airhorn. There’s no right or wrong way to be a feminist. As people, we have the duty to stand up for each other, regardless of gender. And as human beings, we also have the duty to be honest with ourselves.
I am a woman. I am a human being. And I am going to do my duty.