Feminism is not a dirty word. In today’s zeitgeist it is crucial all individuals, not just women, adopt feminist ideals in order to continue securing gender equity. Shying away from feminism as part of one’s identity perpetuates the plight of the patriarchy. Read on to learn what it means to be a feminist and 5 reasons you should get on board.
A Brief History on Feminism
Feminism has been around since the late nineteenth century when women began advocating for greater opportunities. It has garnered attention, critique, a secured home in both academic and social spheres, and today rests in what many deem its fourth wave.
A novice definition will suggest feminism as the movement creating equality of the sexes. More broadly, feminism is the study and advocacy for addressing political, social, and environmental inequality at the intersection of gender, race, class and sexual orientation.
Fourth wave feminists are finding the importance of reclaiming the word “feminist”, often publicized by the conservative media to mean man-hating. However, feminists are fighting to support the rights of all, including those who identify as male.
Some vehemently purport the tables have switched and it is now the “end of men.” It is crucial to bring back the collective action of feminism to dismantle this and other nonsensical beliefs.
5 Reasons We Should All Identify as Feminists
Feminism is good for women.
Well-being and sense of purpose were reported as higher in those who hold at least in part, feminist beliefs. The anxiety and distress inherent in rigid ways of being can be challenged. Women who have for centuries been excluded from having a say in important decisions and conversations can find their voice. In order to adopt this lifestyle it is necessary to address socialized behaviors and beliefs normalized by society.
Identifying as a feminist shows greater impact than simply holding feminist beliefs. The consciousness experienced by this label is found to have a positive impact for women in relationships with a man, sexual behavior, and body image.
The feminist identity has protective features against impossible and limiting beauty standards found in Western culture. When women learn to embrace all bodies as beautiful, internalized shame and aggression for not conforming can begin to dissipate. Straight women report greater relationship equality, stability, and sexual satisfaction if their partner is also a feminist. Read that again.
Traditional agendas express feminism as aligning with man-hating, unattractive lesbians, and that being a pick-me girl is the better option. Many societies teach girls to shrink themselves and raise them to cater to men’s needs, while putting their own on the back burner. In reality, feminism allows women to manage, cope, and resist male dominance while providing solidarity with other women.
Feminism respects and supports men as whole human beings.
Toxic masculinity is a disservice to all. In order to eradicate the painfully limiting ideals of men, himpathy and patience are required.
Acknowledging one’s role in maintaining an antiquated system is challenging when internal states remain largely unconscious. To heal, men too must go through a period of mourning that requires vulnerability and addressing shame. Feminism does not stand to threaten the man, but to free him from the confines of rigid gender roles.
Feminists are working to elevate the value of social, emotional, and domestic labor.
Child care, social planning, emotional labor, and domestic duties have long been coded as feminine and devalued from a monetary standpoint. Burnout from these styles of labor exist most amongst the helping professions, which are largely dominated by women.
Women are not better equipped for these roles because of biology, they have been socialized to believe they are or else be deemed cold. This is a form of hostile sexism.
Unequal division of labor is preveolent in heteronormative relationships, and the mere act of suggesting difficult conversations required for change necessitates emotional labor. Doing laundry and going grocery shopping can be enjoyable experiences, but when they are dismissed due to weaponized incompetence, they become a point of contention.
Continue to expand expression and acceptance of female sexuality.
From the moment they are born, women are bombarded with what Emily Nagaski refers to in, Come as You are as the media, moral, and medical message of sexuality. Look like this, act like this, and if you don’t, you will get an STI and or worse, be called an “ugly slut.”
Women can be sexual AND intelligent. Sadly, slut-shaming and internalized misogyny can pervade the psyche. Sexuality is slowly gaining permission to exist on a continuum, yet it is still not totally socially appropriate for women to want sex, lest talk about it openly. Feminism teaches women to accept their bodies and explore what it means to be a sexual being, because if you don’t know what you like, it’s hard to ask for what you want!
To help educate the masses about what it means to be a feminist.
Feminism is for all. Much like other social movements, education and collective action are required for change to spread. A dubious lie states there is no longer need for feminism, that gender equality has been reached, and the anger associated with advocacy is problematic. There are more opportunities present for women, but which women?
The pleasures of individualism are often afforded to upper middle class, white, cisgender, heterosexual women. True equality will be reached when choice, safety, and freedom are afforded to all women and genders regardless of race, class, or sexual orientation.
If you want to experience what it means to live by your own set of values and create a life outside the box, feminism supports this. Share loudly and with pride, I am a feminist, and help society remember why social change matters, and so do you.
For more inspiration on embracing feminism, check out Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TedX talk called, We Should All Be Feminists.