I am a man and I am a proud feminist.
I support and defend the notion that people of all genders should have their fair share of opportunities to succeed. Whether it is eliminating the gender wage gap or debunking the sexist and ignorant biases that divide both sexes, I support the equality of both genders in sexual expression, employment and contribution to society.
What sometimes sucks about being a male feminist in America is constantly being left out of the conversation when body politics and sexual expression enters. And this is fair -- I should have no equal input to dictate what a woman should wear or how she chooses to have sex.
However, recently, I think the feminist movement and dialogue has been focused so much on sexual expression and beauty that it overlooks other (more important, in my opinion) aspects of female liberation.
I became a feminist when I saw many women, including my mother, who worked hard raising me as a single parent, constantly face a glass ceiling because of their gender. She was smarter than many of her fellow male co-workers and yet, saw them advance in the workplace faster than her.
Being a feminist is about being fair to everyone, plain and simple. However, mass media and influential celebrities in Hollywood are ignoring and deferring the focus to their own personal interests.
I personally did not care much for Kim Kardashian's naked cover for Paper Magazine. No, not because she was a mother or because she was a woman showcasing her curves or her own desire -- but because it was just nothing surprising or appealing about it. It was just simply Kim doing another topless cover.
Those such as myself who were critical automatically had a sector of feminists who felt they needed to chastise and defend the cover. The same slogan, "Women should have the right to sexually express themselves," "Male chauvinism won't allow a woman to value her body," and many other similar comments plagued the discussion of the cover.
And what could have been a great opportunity to shift the focus on to other aspects of the magazine cover was limited to the same basic call for action that has dominated feminist discourse in pop culture: sex and beauty.
OK, yes, sex and beauty are important. However, when I looked at that Paper Magazine cover, I saw something more. I saw a woman who was topless of her own free will, yes, but on the cover of a magazine that is part of an industry that hardly has any women-owned publications. And when you look at the publishers and financiers... they are mostly men, too. So, who really has the power? Is there really equality throughout?
I personally find it a coincidence that only in times where sex is being explored in Hollywood do most women entertainers discuss feminist ideals to defend it. What about the lack of female-driven comedies or leads? How about discussing the lack of women who have a piece of the corporate pie when it comes to directing or running these agencies?
Pop culture has reduced feminism to a fight for body politics and sexual liberation only. It makes us forget about equal employment opportunities, equal access to medical health protection and benefits, sharing parenting responsibilities and sexual assault and abuse prevention. Simply focusing on buying or consuming content that makes us feel pretty and able to pleasure ourselves sexually.
That was not what I just signed up for and I'm tired of celebrities using the feminist title as a way to pitch their brands and market their sex. When we start seeing these entertainers truly advocate and bring more women to the table to run boardrooms and those who are currently on board able to make the same pay as their male co-worker while being able to take a maternity leave without penalty, then that is when feminism is truly being showed on a spectrum.
This is important, because for too long, the wrong messaging has been transported to everyday Americans who read headlines depicting the most recognizable faces using the term 'feminist,' and thus the confusion begins.
Ask most young adults how much they understand what feminism truly is and they will cite famous faces that are currently using the term. When you ask them what makes those celebrities a feminist, you will be surprised by what they say.
I'm sorry, but simply being beautiful and liking how you look in the mirror doesn't make you a feminist. Taking your clothes off and having sex the way you want without being judged isn't the only benefit of feminism.
We need to start holding the media and our public figures more accountable for actually showcasing what feminism truly is, in all spectrums. There should be more conversations that can include everyday women in the discussion, women who don't make money from magazine covers and music videos, but actually need their supervisor to give them a well-deserved raise or more days off or allow for better birth control access.
Because feminism is more than just sex and beauty, it's about giving women liberation across ALL sectors of society.
That's why I'm a feminist and you might actually be one too.