Actually, Feminism Is A Dirty Word

It has always had a negative connotation.
01/22/2017 01:45 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2017

You can always trust Facebook and Twitter to take that feeling of euphoria you had yesterday during the Women’s March back down to reality. I’m not sure about you, but today, my page is full of men and women explaining how feminism is actually terrible.

These disgusting women are actually fighting for rights in America while women in Saudi Arabia still can’t drive. Can you believe it? It’s almost as though fighting for rights in America doesn’t mean that you don’t also care about underprivileged women around the world.

If I donate to Planned Parenthood that means that I can’t also donate to Girl Rising to help provide education for underprivileged girls around the world, right? Nope. Of course, this is a completely ridiculous way to reframe the conversation to discredit feminists in America.

Other people share memes that ask, “What rights do women NOT have in America?” This wouldn’t bother me if it was actually meant to strike a conversation, rather than to falsely claim that there’s no such thing as the pay gap.

In fact, these kind of questions are one of the main reasons for this massive protest. We want more people to be educated on what, exactly, we’re fighting for. In case you’re wondering, here are a few things:

  • According to the Pew Research Center, white women still only make 84% of what their male counterparts earn. When you consider black and hispanic women, these numbers are even worse. Equal pay for equal work is not too much to ask.
  • According to Business Insider, women only make up 17% of board members, 15% of C-suite executives, and 5% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.
  • Women are much more likely to be human trafficking victims (yes, also in the USA).
  • Women do not have control over their own bodies. The most recent information that I could find was that by August of 2014, congress “already introduced a whopping 468 restrictions intended to limit, control, or otherwise regulate women’s reproductive rights.” Come on.

What is feminism?

Okay, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s important to explain a little bit more about feminism. I’ve seen many women post that they did not support the march, or feminism in general, because they prefer to be a stay-at-home mom and feminists think they are evil for this.

Please understand that feminists do not think this! Being a stay-at-home mom is an extremely important job and is highly valued if that’s what you choose to do.

You know who else feminists think should have this opportunity? Dads. Rather than being man-hating, feminists believe men are equally able to do things women can do, such as be good parents.

As important as being a stay-at-home mom is, it’s equally important that a mom is able to work if that’s what she decides she wants. Feminism is completely about choice. Women should not be demonized for either decision that they make. And, on that note, neither should men.

Feminists want equality, in every sense of the word. They want to earn as much as men, dismantle the patriarchy, get rid of rape culture (for more information on rape culture, read this article in Time Magazine), have their femininity valued (though not required), have control over their bodies, and more.

To accurately describe feminism would take much more than a small section in an article, so to learn more please consider checking out this comic, this short article, and this piece.

Feminism is a dirty word

For everyone proposing that feminism be changed to something regarding ‘equality’ because feminism has developed to have a negative connotation, there are a few things you need to understand.

Feminism has always had a negative connotation.

Go ahead and check out these photos of old anti-suffragette ads. You’ll see many of the exact same stereotypes used today of husbandless women trying to emasculate men.

Also, while feminism benefits men as well (such as potentially playing a role in lowering men’s suicide rates because men are able to show emotions without the strict gender binary created under the patriarchy), feminism was predominantly created for women as the citizens who have been, and are, seen as less equal.

Calling yourself a feminist now means you want equality of the sexes and you respect the women who were demonized in their time by fighting for the rights we have today.

But do you want to know another reason why changing the word feminism to something else won’t matter? It was proven yesterday.

This was the Women’s March, not the Feminists’ March. But what did I see all over the internet, certain media outlets, and hear from friends? Anti-women remarks and memes, shared nonstop.

It doesn’t matter what you call it; fighting for women’s rights will earn you disdain, as it has throughout history. Don’t give up. Wear your Nasty Woman and Feminist shirts proudly. Keep fighting for the equality of all people. And please, make sure your feminism is intersectional.

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