I am a proud self-proclaimed feminist. I believe in promoting women’s rights. I believe women should receive equal pay for equal work. I believe that the media over sexualizes women for the purpose of creating an unattainable image. That image sells loads of hand bags, exercise equipment, clothes, makeup, diet pills, and so forth. As a feminist I am not trying to feminize men. I am happily married to a very masculine Indian man from a traditional background. I am not trying to get more power than a man, nor do I have an agenda to dominate over men.
I simply want women to have the same opportunities that men have in this world. I want my daughter to live in a world where women are seen as equals. I want her to feel safe from the fear of rape and domestic violence. I want her to be able to define her own identity without being told that she is stepping outside of her gender role. A world where she can be as “feminine” or “masculine” as she chooses, without the judgment of others.
Recently I was talking to a good friend of mine and discussing a social topic related to women. I told her that I was a feminist. She looked at me shocked like I had said a naughty word. “Really??” She asked in a very surprised tone. I responded “ Yes I believe in advocating for the rights of women, don’t you?” She responded and said “Well of course, but I am not a feminist”. I said “A feminist stands for promoting the rights of women, so in reality you are a feminist”. She responded “But feminists are so extreme; I would not want people to think those things about me”. This response to feminism is not uncommon; I have met many women that are afraid to call themselves feminists, because of the image associated with the term.
Sadly the feminist movement has gotten a bad reputation over the years. Quit honestly many people hear the word feminist and think of a bunch of men hating, bra burning, angry women. Feminists are seen as women that reject their gender. A woman that hates and judges stay at home moms or women that are models, or women that cover their heads for religious reasons. They are seen as women that complain and claim sexism to get special favors or preference. They are also seen as women who don’t get married or have kids. A feminist does not have long hair or wear dresses. A feminist hates men. Feminist has become a naughty word. If you Google feminist under the image search option one of the sub choices is “angry”. There you have it Google has answered one of life’s questions, feminist has become synonymous with “angry”.
Much of the negativity towards feminism has been perpetuated by the opponents of the movement. There are some people who are very concerned that the role of women is changing. These people work tirelessly to combat the movement and impede progress. The idea of women being equal scares some people. Change often elicits this kind fear in some individuals. Think about all the violence that occurred during the civil rights movement when people of color were working towards equality.
The media seems to only focus their coverage on the extreme side of the feminist movement thus making us all look angry and irrational. The media also shines the spotlight on women who are judging other women. I have seen several articles where “feminist” are judging stay at home moms and women that are models, saying that these women are not being supportive to the movement, and that they are selling out. The reality is that most feminist do not have these extreme feelings and views. The feminist movement is for the betterment of all women. So that each woman can choose what she wants to do, or how to dress, or where to work? So that she does not have obstacles in her way. So that she has choices in life! That is what Feminism means! Choices! Freedom! Equality! And love for all People!
More men and women need to stand up and be proud to be a feminist. It is not a naughty word! It is a word that represents a beautiful movement. Do not be ashamed. We must be united to achieve our goals or divided we fail. If we allow the feminist movement to be shamed and marginalized, the goals I mentioned before will never be achieved.
So I ask my readers:
1. Are you feminist?
2. Why ?