Why feminism isn't a dirty word

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A few weeks ago, Emma Watson made a game-changing speech at a UN conference. Chances are you've heard about it- it's caused immense praise and backlash alike. As a UN Women Goodwill ambassador, Emma has helped begin a campaign called HeForShe that aims to be a solidarity movement for gender equality. The one thing she said that stuck out the most to me is this:

"The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women's rights has become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it's that this has to stop."

Growing up, my parents instilled in me the belief that I could be anything I wanted to be. Some of my "dream grown-up jobs" included veterinarian, teacher, singer, and runway model. My model dreams were soon crushed, but only because I realized you had to actually be tall to walk the runway. I had no reason to believe I couldn't do any of the other things. As I stared getting older, however, I began to see that not everyone thought this way, and I didn't understand why. But I knew it wasn't fair.

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be a feminist. If I had a dollar for every time I've read about or heard a woman dismissing feminism because "they don't hate men," it'd probably get me a lot of Starbucks. But listen. I love men. Famous ones, ones you see at the store and temporarily fall in love with, Southern ones, athletic ones, shy ones, loud ones... you name it. But I'm still a feminist. I would like to have a family one day. I'm still a feminist.

See, I can dream of having a family and also dream about excelling in a career I love, with the same respect as men. I can do both things. I can be independent and still have a man standing beside me. It's possible; just look at Beyonce and Jay-Z. Feminism doesn't have to be this "either or" thing, and I feel like a lot of people don't realize that. There's still a belief that being a feminist means you think women are better and all men are evil, and that's not it at all.

As Emma so eloquently points out, if you believe in the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, then by definition, you are a feminist. By this definition, every single educated person ever should be a feminist, but unfortunately it's not this way. Why? Why are people so scared? Why, after Emma Watson's speech hit social media, was she threatened with personal photos being hacked? Why are nearly one in six women victims of sexual assault? Why are so many of those women blamed? 

These questions, along with so many more, are why I believe feminism is so important. It's not a dirty word either, and I wish every person in the world could know that. Simply put, feminism is equality.

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