The Fight For True Feminism

The word feminism still has a negative connotation attached to it for many. It’s taboo. It’s a word that causes the imagery of bra-burners, men-haters and radical women who don’t shave. It’s become a lot more complicated than what it functionally is — political, social and economic equality between men and women. It’s a simple definition that has become a complex concept for people to grasp and label themselves as.

Perhaps I shouldn’t use the word simple, especially when it was confusing for some people to understand why nearly 3 million people marched worldwide in a series of women’s marches. “What rights are being taken away?” they asked. Well, to not shy away from the true meaning of feminism, women marched for equality and what they felt would be threatened by a Trump administration — whether it be reproductive rights, equal pay, LGBTQ rights or racial equality.

While women in America have more freedom and rights than women in other countries—which is part of why people had trouble understanding why there needed to be a march—it’s important to understand that some of our rights have been infringed upon. Progress still needs to be made when it comes to allowing women to make their own health care decisions, lowering the risk of gender-based violence and ending widespread negative rape culture.

Although this recent demonstration was in response to Donald Trump’s presidency, women took it as an opportunity to let Washington as a whole community know women will continue to fight for the rights to their own bodies, protect LGBTQ rights and stand against racism and religious intolerance. Whether it made any difference or not, women felt the need to let their voices be heard, and that’s exactly what they did.

As for the feminist movement itself, it’s important to not leave men out of the picture. This is where we begin to see the trend of what I call “fake-feminism” — the type of feminism that forgets women are striving for equality and not power. Since the suffrage movement and fight for basic gender equality in the early-1900s, feminism has been whatever people want it to be. This is why some people begin to be “turned-off” by feminism — it means something different to every person.

This isn’t to take away from women’s issues. A woman’s right to her own body is still extremely important, but we seem to have forgotten about including men into our message. Feminism has essentially been disconnected from its roots — the social, economic and political part. Yes, a working mother is empowering, but so is a stay-at-home dad. Yes, women need to be respected, but so do men. It goes both ways.

It’s difficult to say there’s a right or wrong way to be a feminist, but with the rise of fake-feminists, someone needed to say something, and in the state our country is in, the least we can do is lift each other up — men supporting women, women supporting men, women supporting women and men supporting men.

In order to “defeat the patriarchy” we need to work together, not compete against each other. Feminism isn’t about putting down the other side, it’s about equality. No one should feel ashamed to call themselves a feminist because of the negative stereotype attached to it, and men should not feel threatened or left out of the movement. Once we begin to work together and acknowledge gender inequalities and call them out, we’ll begin to see progress and hopefully change for the better.

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