By: Masha Bychkov
Feminism is not a new concept. It has been around for centuries, and it’s still relevant today, but what exactly is feminism? Feminism is not the hatred of men, nor is it meant to make women superior to men. Feminism in its simplest form is equality for men and women. Even though the goal to feminism is to make women equal, there are still people who fiercely oppose it, especially women.
In today’s world it seems like more and more women are trying to separate themselves from a movement that is meant to aid them. The phrase “I’m not a feminist, but…” is often thrown around because, although people agree with feminist beliefs, they don’t want to be labeled a feminist. The Huffington Post recently did a survey where they asked people if they identify as a feminist. Only 20% said they were feminists, but when they were asked if they believe “men and women should be social, political and economic equals,” 82% agreed. Even celebrities are guilty. Shailene Woodley, starring in The Fault in Our Stars, when asked if she was a feminist, said, “No because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance.” Woodley, after denying she was feminist, basically defined feminism: a balance of power between men and women. The reason why so women are refusing to be labeled feminists is because of its negative connotation.
The term feminism is much too often confused with misandry, the actual hatred of men. Granted, a number of feminists are angry with the patriarchal society, but their anger is not invalid nor does it mean that they hate men. The negative connotation that feminists receive is the result of misinformation. When unaware of the oppression that occurs all over the world, it’s easy to write off feminism as an unnecessary social movement that allows women to complain about imaginary problems. Enough is enough, it’s time to become informed.
There are still countries that do not allow women to be educated, or put women who try to become educated at risk. In 2009 the Taliban banned women in the Swat District of Pakistan from going to school. Malala Yousafzai, only 11 years old at the time, spoke out about what was happening to women under the Taliban. She blogged and used social media as her weapon. On October 9, 2012, after she became known around the world, the Taliban tried to assassinate her. She was only 15 and she was shot 3 times, all because she spoke out about being denied an education. Likewise, in Nigeria there is an Islamist insurgent group known as the Boko Haram, which believes that women should not be educated because they are meant to remain at home as cooks and sex slaves. On April 15, 2014 they kidnapped 276 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. The leader of the group admitted that the girls have been taken as slaves. The girls are still missing. These horror stories happen all over the world, all the time.
These crimes against women do not only occur on foreign soil, they happen in America as well. In response to the feminist movement, the men’s rights movement was created. This countermovement, which is fueled by misinformation and misogyny, believes that men are more oppressed than women are. A member of this activist group, Elliot Rodger, killed 6 people near the University of California at Santa Barbara campus on May 23, 2014. Before the killings, the terrorist posted a video to Youtube where he directly blames women for his actions, entirely victimizing himself. He believed that the women he wanted to kill deserved annihilation because they had rejected him.
The world truly needs feminism. It’s not a movement that can be disregarded or mocked just because it’s not understood. Women are still not equal to men, and they will not be until more voices are heard and change occurs. Embrace feminism because it will not only decrease the oppression of women, but it will decrease oppression of men. Stop saying “I’m not a feminist” when actions say otherwise because the denial of feminism only perpetuates the negative stereotype and ceases the progression of the movement and humanity itself. Most importantly, become informed and speak up for those who cannot.