Feminism. It’s a term that goes misunderstood more times than not. If you identify as a feminist, you have probably been posed questions along the lines of, “So does that mean you hate men?” or, “Are you just angry and confused about your sexuality?” Although these questions seem harsh, they speak loudly about the misconceptions structured around feminism.
The definition of feminism, according to dictionary.com, is, “The doctrine advocating social, political and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”
The key word there is equal. What many seem to confuse is the motive behind feminist theories. First of all, I would like to rightfully mention that men, too, can identify as feminists.
At its core, feminism promotes equality for all. That goes for all races, genders, classes and sexual orientations, among other things. The idea behind feminism is not to put women a step ahead of men, but rather to get them at the same level.
The goal is to create an equal playing field. Although we have reached great milestones in making it to this goal, we are still far from reaching it.
For nearly all of time, women have been oppressed by their male counterparts. It’s sad, but it’s the reality of the matter. Just to put things into perspective, let’s take a look back in history.
Not even a full one-hundred years have passed since women have been awarded the right to vote. It was only in 1920 that women received their deserved right to vote. Prior to that, women essentially had no say in how the government was run. It is obvious that as a result of this, their interests were pushed aside while maintaining white male dominance that was brought to the forefront of all issues.
Another issue around the idea of feminism is the idea that all feminists are radical. While there are most certainly some radical feminists out there, that does not necessarily speak for the majority of people who identify as feminists.
Feminism looks at everything through an analytical eye. It views systems of oppression as institutions that place restrictions on certain people based solely from something not within their own control.
The purpose of writing this article is to bring to light the idea that feminism — in my definition of it — is not about bashing men and trying to exclude them from our practices, but rather to give meaning to this idea of overall equality.
Although we have come a long way in the United States specifically, we are still far from the ideal world. I must admit, compared to more underdeveloped countries, we have it pretty good here in the U.S.
We do not face extreme forms of patriarchy like some other countries do. We are not exiled and we are allowed to receive an education. However, what we still do not have, even in 2014, is equal pay for women.
There still exists this notion that even though two individuals are doing the exact same work, the male will experience better pay.
Now, this is most certainly not the case everywhere, however, it does still happen. To identify as a feminist is risky business. You jeopardize how people may perceive you. The stigma often attached to feminists is that they are angry man haters. I am writing to express in every way possible that this is not what feminism stands for.
In fact, feminists fight for racial justice as well. Any group of people that has faced oppression is in the interest of feminists.
As a collective society, I hope that we can all take a step back and look at the larger picture. We need to reconsider what it means to be a woman, because I would argue that women have moved far beyond their kitchen duties and are soaring into the roles of CEOs.
Sabrina Lapointe can be contacted at email@example.com