“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” ― Rebecca West
The dictionary defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”. With a definition as simple as this, it’s surprising that people have found so many ways to create misconceptions about what this term truly means. Feminists like myself, or those that identify with other terms that demand women’s liberation (i.e. womanist), have often had to defend themselves from negative stereotypes:
- Feminists are angry
- Feminists hate men
- Feminists are all lesbians
- Feminists are bra burners
- Feminists are unattractive
- Feminists are all women
- Feminists don’t believe in marriage
While there is nothing inherently wrong with a lot of these stereotypes-after all who is bra burning really hurting-they are are not the tenets of feminist ideology. They simply stand as ways to discredit the feminist movement and discourage people from identifying with the word. Because that is what feminism is, a movement, and other than the aforementioned definition, most feminist agree and disagree on many topics. Feminists are people. Normal people who are committed to a movement and, like all movements, there are discussions and disagreements on the most efficient way to go about change
“A huge part of being a feminist is giving other women the freedom to make choices you might not necessarily make yourself.” – Lena Dunham
They disagree on how best to promote the agenda, the points on the agenda that are most important, who needs the most limelight, and who needs to step off the platform for once. With so many different types of women in the world, it’s no wonder we can’t agree on everything. From the Megan Thee Stallions, Michelle Obamas, the Arriana’s to the Kamalas, and the Audre Lordes (please look her up). With so many representations of what it means to be a woman, fighting against male expectations of what they should be, different types of feminists are created. The word ends up meaning something unique and different to all of us.
“There’s just as many different kinds of feminism as there are women in the world.” – Kathleen Hanna
But despite these contentions they all agree that they are tired of the subjugation of women, and they all agree that something needs to be done.
That’s what the matter boils down to, when you strip away the stereotypes, the misconceptions and ideologies, do you believe that men and women should be treated equally? If yes, then you’re a feminist, and if not, catch up; because change is coming whether you’re on board or not.
“Feminism isn’t a cloak that I put on in the morning and take off at certain times. It’s who I am. I look at the world through eyes that are very alert to gender injustice, and I always will.” – Chimanda Ngozi Adichie