Hello, my name is Kassi and I am a feminist.
When people hear me say I’m a feminist, they usually give a fake smile and mutter “oh, okay,” before hurriedly moving the conversation along.
I’m shocked when I hear other women passionately distance themselves from the word, frantically proclaiming “I’m not a feminist!” It’s as if people think ‘feminism’ is a dirty word.
Feminism is defined as ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.’ Yet people think of feminism as a group of over-the-top, crazy, man-hating women who want to be more powerful than men, not equal to them. After all, if feminists really want equality, why isn’t the movement called equalism?
I can tell you why.
Historically, women have faced unfair gender disparities. From being treated as property, to not having any – or very few – rights, the past has overwhelmingly and undeniably favored men (particularly white men – but that’s a whole different issue).
The ‘fem’ part of feminism is important. The inequalities facing women of the past and today deserve to be understood and acknowledged. Diluting the name to include everyone makes the issue a lot less personal, and for people to give a shit about a social issue, it has to be personal. This is the first step to people taking it seriously and wanting to make a difference.
And it is personal. I am personally affected by the disadvantages I will face because of my gender – and I have it pretty easy as a white, heterosexual female living in a Western democracy. Other women of different races, cultures, and orientations face many more disadvantages than I do.
It’s important people don’t ignore the very real inequalities women face by claiming that we should be fighting for equality, not specifically women’s equality. Because those two things are the same. To want equality is to want to fix the disparity between men and women.
Just because it’s called feminism doesn’t mean we want to overthrow the patriarchy and live in a matriarchal society. It’s the same as saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ instead of ‘All Lives Matter’. Fighting for an underprivileged group doesn’t mean that privileged groups are worthless. Of course every life matters. Of course men have real, undeniable problems that need to be addressed. But right now, it isn’t all lives that are put in danger by unfair police brutality in America. And right now, women are still unequal to men.
I understand there are definitely some extreme groups out there who call themselves feminists, just like there are extremists in every movement. But just like every other movement, the extremists don’t actually speak for the majority, even if their voices tend to be the loudest (or most controversial, so they get more attention).
So yeah, there may be some feminists out there who hate men, don’t give a shit about male suicide, and deny that sexual assault can happen to men, but they don’t speak for me, or for the feminism movement as a whole.
I want women across the world to be safe from violence, rape, and abuse. I want women to have the same opportunities as men. I want women to have control over their own bodies. I want access to education for all girls. I want to demolish gender stereotypes that contribute to many of the issues facing women and men. I want people of different sexual orientations to have equal rights, and for transgender people to feel safe and validated. I want people of color to feel safe. I want to be able to make my own choices about how I live my life. I want people to listen and empathize with women about their struggles and problems.
All of those things are what feminism is to me.
I’m proud to call myself a feminist. I’m proud my friends and my partner call themselves feminists. We shouldn’t be afraid to call ourselves feminists. Feminism isn’t a dirty word; it’s a movement supporting equality. Since when is wanting equality a bad thing? And shouldn’t the purpose of the movement be more important than the name anyway?
Comment: Do you consider yourself a feminist?