Feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
Man-haters, bra burners, hairy-armpit-havers, blah blah blah... These are just some of the many generalizations made about those amazing individuals who proclaim that they are feminists. Sure, some of us may not shave all the time (or ever) but that's not because we're feminists! It's because we're humans! Feminists are: female, male, short, tall, black, white, bald, hairy, straight, gay, trans, and EVERYTHING in between.
Did you catch that? Men can be feminists, too! So if anyone can be a feminist, then what really is feminism? Well, according to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
I think that sounds pretty fair. In fact, it sounds like common sense to me. If men can vote, then women should be able to vote. If men and women both work in the same position for the same company, then they should be paid be the same. If men can be sexual beings without judgement, then women should also be able to be sexual beings without judgment. Unfortunately, men and women are not always afforded the same level of respect.
- Women in the US were not allowed to vote nationally until the 1920s while (white) men have been allowed to vote since the country's inception.
- Women make 21% less than men (on average) for doing the same exact jobs.
- Women who are as sexually open as men often experience slut-shaming, while men are praised by their peers for their sexual exploits
Now that we understand why feminism is important for women, lets talk about why feminism is important for men. One thing that feminism does is help to break down those overly-structured, suffocating gender roles that have led to the inequality we face today. There isn't just ONE way to be a woman, and likewise, there isn't just ONE way to be a man.
Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations. --Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Do you think every man can be strong, tough, aggressive, unemotional, hyper-intelligent, breadwinners all the time? NO. They can't. It's just impossible. And it's likely that a lot of men don't even want to be that way! Men are as trapped by gender roles as women are.
Okay, so feminism is important for cis-men and cis-women, but what about everyone else? I mean, we know there are so many different kinds of people in the world! Some feel that their sex (whether or not they were born with male or female reproductive organs) and gender identity (whether or not they identify as male or female) are the same, but many don't. And that's okay! Feminism is important for everyone.
But does being a feminist and breaking down gender stereotypes mean that those who identify as masculine can't be strong or be breadwinners? Does it mean that those who identify as feminine can't be emotional or home-makers? NO. It means that everyone has the right and the opportunity to decide for themselves who they are and what they want to do!
To be a feminist is to believe in equality -- equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal treatment for everyone regardless of sex, gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, or anything else. I wholeheartedly believe in equality, do you? Let me know in the comments!