Are You a Feminist?
Hi, I’m Olive and I’m a feminist.
Most people have some sort of reaction to hearing this. It’s either “Yeah, girl! Me too!” or some variation of “Uggggghhh.”
I’ve heard both reactions from men and women. Those who fall in the “Ugggggghhh” category usually associate the term with the antiquated view that feminism means angry, men-hating women burning their bras in the street.
Feminism needs a rebrand. And a new name.
Beyond conjuring up old-fashioned beliefs, it’s name is inherently one-sided. Which Feminism isn’t.
So, what is Feminism really?
Like many ideologies, there’s no clear-cut definition. Ask five different people and you’ll get five different answers (similarly to asking five different people to define Christianity). Most modern feminists would describe Feminism as equality for men and women. But even “equality” has somehow become a loaded term. What it really means is ending oppressive stereotypes about men and women that prevent people from creating, saying, or being who they want to be.
Modern-day Feminism is far more relatable than people think.
If one of those five people were me. I’d say that Feminism means treating people better. Men treating women better. Women treating men better. Everything in-between too. I’d also say that generalizations about anyone are usually unfair.
To simplify, as a woman, here’s what Feminism means to me:
That equally qualified men and women should make the same pay rate for the same job.That men should be allowed to cry during television shows and not have to “defend their masculinity.” (I mean c’mon, Hodor was sad!)That my body has periods and can make babies and I shouldn’t be punished or apologetic about this.That when I go on a date, sometimes I want him to pay. Sometimes I want to pay. Because that’s courteous. Sometimes we can split it too because both of us are probably trying to figure out how to pay our rent and can’t afford to be anyone’s Sugar Daddy or Sugar Mama.That it’s an unfair stereotype that ALL men only want sex and will do anything to get it. That women who have a lot of sex are sluts. And women/men who don’t have a lot of sex are prude or weird or undesirable. So have as much consensual sex as you want or don’t want.That our young girls should be taught to code and learn how to follow the stock market. They should be taught to take up space, and play sports, and that their value isn’t only based on how they look.And that we shouldn’t chastise the young girls who want to grow up and raise families and stay at home. Who wear dresses and heels. Who have perfect lipstick. Because that’s okay too.Also that it’s totally acceptable to do some combination of all of those things.That we should teach our boys to express themselves fully, that it’s okay to have emotions, and feel vulnerable. That they can talk about their feelings because all people have feelings and sometimes you need help figuring that stuff out.And we shouldn’t chastise the ones who want to smoke cigars, hit the gym, and would rather die than talk about their feelings.That “No” really does mean “No.” If you’re a man or a woman or transgendered or purple or whatever. No one should have to do something sexual that they don’t want to. Sexual assault happens to both men and women. It’s morally bankrupt to make anyone feel embarrassed about it- that somehow it’s their fault. It’s dangerous to blame women because they drank too much or wore a skirt that was a “a little too short.” It’s equally as unfair to imply that “real men” don’t fall victim to assault. They do. Everyone is responsible for taking a stand here. Men for women. Women for men. Women for women. Men for women. People for people.That women should feel comfortable at meetings speaking up without being interrupted or spoken over. Like any civil discourse, they should be able to complete their thought. (I’ve heard this complaint again and again from women working in male-dominant cultures)That we acknowledge that men aren’t taking up extra space on the subway because they’re assholes and want to oppress us. They have extra stuff between their legs. At the same time, I shouldn’t be expected to shrink my body to accommodate them.
If you agree with most of those things, you’re probably a feminist. See, it’s really not as radical as you may think.
I reiterate, Feminism needs a rebrand. Unfortunately, until someone decides to coin “Peopleism” we’ll have to keep using the word Feminism. My hope is that after reading this, you’ll be able to look at the term with a different perspective. It exists to fight stereotypes about what people should and shouldn’t be. This is how Feminism developed. We needed this, still need this. We’re still fighting gender-related expectations for both men and women.
Here’s the secret: there is no should or shouldn’t. That’s the point. Be whoever you want to be and let other people be who they want to be too.
So Hi. My name is Olive. I’m a feminist and my guess is, so are you.