By SOFIA LYNCH
What has become of the word Feminism? On every social media site and every media outlet, everyone seems to have their own definition. “Man-haters,” “hairy-pitted radicals,” “victims,” take your pick.
“Feminism” has widely come to be treated like a bad word, being labeled “the F word” whenever the movement is discussed on media outlets. Feminism has gained such a negative connotation that female celebrities have felt the need to take to the media to declare themselves as not feminist.
Most recently, Shailene Woodley from “The Fault In Our Stars” felt it necessary to echo a statement she made in “Time” magazine last May in an interview with “Nylon” this March: She is adamantly not a feminist.
There are so many problems with this declaration. No woman in her right mind should be able to call herself “not a feminist.” Woodley’s reasoning in “Time” for her aversion to the movement was, “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.”
Has the whole world forgotten how to use a dictionary? Because the last time I checked, the definition of feminism is, “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”
Nowhere does it say that feminists look to usurp men or that they hate to cook their husbands’ dinner. Nowhere does it say that feminism involves lack of hygiene or the hatred of men. The movement and the word feminism has had its meaning stretched, diluted and soiled.
But what is it about this movement that has left such bad taste in everyone’s mouths? Sure, there are women who associate themselves with feminism that have some radical behaviors, but every feminist woman cannot be held accountable for the feelings of every feminist woman. Just like every republican doesn’t have to stand by every republican proposal.
Women in public positions, be it politicians or actresses, should never join in on the demonization of feminism. Woodley has specifically spoken before about being very conscious of the message she sends to her young female fans.
So then why would she, or any other woman in a similar position, speak out to impressionable young fans against a movement about equality? Saying you aren’t a feminist is like giving men the okay to continue to treat you and your gender as less than. Why would we not want to empower women?
After years spent living in the shadows of men, unable to climb to their ranks, women should be rejoicing in the fact that they might be able to promise their daughters a more accepting world one day.
But if the trends stay the same and the movement of feminism can’t bounce back from the negative reputation it has gained, maybe women are destined to be stuck as second rate forever.
Girls shouldn’t feel ashamed to be empowered by their gender and to speak out for equality. Be proud to speak for what you believe in girls – for those women who live in a culture where they don’t even have that right.
Equality of sexes should be innate, not rigorously debated. Feminism shouldn’t be seen as a dirty word. So ladies, let’s start talking. Speak out because every voice is needed to retake control of the conversation.