I am a feminist. Now, what does this mean? Does this mean I hate all men and that I’m a misandrist? Does this mean I believe all men are unworthy of forming an opinion? Does this mean I believe women should be superior to men in every way and that we should live in complete matriarchy?
No, it does not. The definition of feminism, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the following: “The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” This means, as a feminist, that I believe men and women should have equal rights and equal opportunities.
People who label themselves as feminists, but exhibit the traits mentioned at the beginning of this article, are anti-feminists, also called “feminazis” or “radical/extreme feminists”. However, I dislike this last term, as they shouldn’t be called feminists at all, not even “radical or extreme”, because this helps stigmatize the term “feminist”.
The reason so many of you reading this may not identify as a feminist is because of the misrepresentation of feminism in the media. For example, go on YouTube and type “Feminist” in the search bar without pressing enter. YouTube suggests the following searches, in order: “feminist triggered”, “feminist cringe”, “feminist vs logic”, “feminist”, “feminist gets roasted” and so on.
YouTube is my personal favourite website and phone app, because I love the ultra-dank memes it offers. However, I tend to avoid watching videos mocking so called “feminists”, as they truly infuriate me.
The women being mocked in these videos sometimes don’t even label themselves as “feminists” – whereas YouTubers (sometimes female!) use this term as an insult! How can a word that represents equality become an insult?
This is because there are extremists in the feminist movement, just like there are extremists in every movement. But do we really define a movement by its extremists? I really hope not. If this was the case we’d be calling every Muslim “terroristic”, every Christian a “crazy evangelic”, every liberal a “commie” and every conservative a “bigot”.
Some might be reading this and think “ok so you’re an egalitarian? Why not use this gender neutral term if you really believe men and women should be equal?” To answer this question, I must first explain the difference between feminism and egalitarianism.
Egalitarianism is really more of a philosophy than a practice. It’s the philosophy that everyone, regardless of religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity/race and so on, deserves to be treated equally.
Firstly, feminism is the only movement that specifically targets the inequalities between men and women. Secondly, it is put in practice by actively denouncing gender inequalities still present in society. This includes fighting for disadvantaged men as well, as we do not deny that men can be disadvantaged in society.
On the contrary, by denouncing gender stereotypes, we are advocating for both men and women.
We feminists fight so men aren’t automatically seen as the breadwinner, and help society see that it is as respectable for a father to be a stay-at-home parent.
We attempt to make obsolete the stereotype that women must be first a caregiver and second a career person.
We fight so men aren’t given a more severe prison sentence than women, as this promotes the stereotype than men are stronger than women (They may on average be physically stronger, but they are not necessarily mentally or emotionally stronger).
We fight for male rape or abuse victims, allowing them to speak out about their trauma, when many non-feminists will laugh at the abused man, calling him “weak”.
I’ve personally never considered myself an egalitarian, because I’ve felt that it goes without saying that if I’m a feminist, I believe everyone should be treated equally, regardless of the factors previously mentioned.
Now, you may argue that “feminists nowadays just complain about micro-aggressions instead of finding a good cause to fight for… they stood for equal rights and now they’ve got them and they’re still mad”.
However, let me ask you this: is illegalizing abortion in several American states and sending women to prison for terminating an unwanted pregnancy not sexist?
Now, many men say they have a right to an opinion on abortion since women, in fact, cannot have children asexually. And I couldn’t agree more. It is precisely that.
If abortions are to be illegal, men should be held 50% responsible for an abortion in the case of non-rape, and 0% responsible in the case of rape… since women, in fact, cannot have children asexually. This is what true gender equality is.
I hope I have helped at least one person understand what it truly means to be a feminist. If even after reading this, you still think “Third-wave feminism is toxic and all about whining and complaining”… then I really don’t know what to say to you, I’m sorry you have such a huge misconception about modern feminism, I guess?
Written by: Sophie Dufresne