Updated: May 30
Special thanks to Julia Jarzyna for her artwork seen in the cover image.
We all know the stereotype.
Lesbian gender studies professors who hate men and think that everything wrong with society can be blamed on the ‘patriarchy’. This is, of course, just a stereotype.
Some people fit it, many do not. And yet despite any stereotypes that might make feminism unappealing to a number of people, including some men and even some women, I think it is right to identify as a feminist. Here’s why:
1. It’s about equality
Feminism is, in essence, simply about equality.
It is not, as some people may have led you to believe, about turning the tables on sexism and punishing men. Granted, there are feminists who do believe this should happen, but they are a minority. Feminism is really all about equal rights for men and women.
2. Legal rights.
Without feminism, many of the legal rights women benefit from today, including the right to vote, would not be available.
When brave women and their allies stood up to the injustices of their time, they made it possible for women in numerous countries around the world to benefit from enhanced levels of freedom that are now taken for granted (and so they should be).
3. There is work to be done globally.
Women’s rights have certainly progressed around the world, but this is not to say that everywhere in the world is on board with this. Being a feminist means not only standing up for equal rights of the sexes in your own country, but to stand up for these rights in other countries too.
The fight is far from over.
4. Feminism empowers women.
Women who were previously afraid to speak out or take action over certain injustices in their lives, e.g. sexual assault, are empowered by the advances made in women’s rights.
Now, for those women living in countries where feminism has had an influence, it is far easier to stand up to discrimination and injustice than in previous times, although this does not mean there aren’t still problems.
5. Feminism has changed the family for the better.
Without feminism, it would probably still be completely acceptable for women to do all the work around the house and never be allowed to pursue their own ambitions. Feminism has changed that in many societies. It is now socially acceptable for a woman to be the main breadwinner in a household and, to some peoples’ surprise, this does not stop them from being a mother and a wife as well! And if a marriage isn’t going well, it’s now much easier for a woman to get out of it.
6. Feminism makes it okay to be different.
Some girls growing up are told to dress and behave a certain way. To not to do so is seen as ‘unfeminine’. Feminism smashes the notion that one has to conform to these gender roles and encourages girls and women around the world to be true to themselves.
7. The conversation has changed.
Feminism has moved society forward in a positive direction. If everyone became feminist, the notion that women aren’t always equal to men would become a thing of the past and we would be able to focus more on key issues like climate change.
I hope what I’ve said demonstrates that one does not need to be a political radical in order to wish for women around the world to be free to live the life they want to live. Being a feminist is part of being a decent human being. Period. We all need to support each other, no matter our gender.
We are of course all in this together.