The new F-word

There are so many connotations surrounding the word feminist. I’ve been accused of being many different things when I say that I’m a feminist. I’ve been told that I’m a man-hater, that I don’t believe in equality and that I’m just looking for attention.

Truth be told, because of past experiences, I get anxious telling others I’m a feminist. Like it’s some taboo word that I should only say around my close friends…much like another controversial F-word. I’m tired of the negative connotations that are associated with that word, so I would like to set the record straight.

First and foremost, and I cannot stress this enough, being a feminist has nothing to do with hating men (“That’s misandry!”). Feminism stands for equality. “So why not just call yourself an equalist?” many have asked, but my answer is simple: If the sexes were already equal, then I would; but they’re not, so I don’t. Women have always been viewed as the weaker sex. We get paid less, we are more likely to deal with harassment, and there’s somehow still this social stigma that we’re the only ones who can be homemakers. I find this concept interesting because I’ve seen men do household chores (so-called women’s work) and do you know what happened to them? Nothing. They accomplished their chore and moved on. Shocking, I know.

In the past, I’ve been scolded for making new acquaintances “uncomfortable” by tossing around the word feminism. After my confusion, I came to the conclusion that I don’t care. The term feminism should, on certain levels, make others uncomfortable, because inequality is uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable knowing that one day I will work the same job, with the same degree, doing the same tasks as a male coworker, and I will still likely be making less than him. I’m uncomfortable knowing that in this day and age there are men and women who still believe you have to fit into gender molds that have existed for far too long. I’m uncomfortable knowing that the moment I walk out my front door, I will most likely be greeted with cat-calls and will walk back to my apartment, pepper spray in pocket and keys in hand, ready to confront an attacker.

Feminism is not about tearing one another down over the roles you choose to play in life; it’s about having the freedom to make those decisions for yourself. If men want to be homemakers, that’s great! And if women want to be homemakers, that’s great too! We have got to stop treating one sex like they’re less than the other, and we’ve got to get rid of the notion that people need to fit a single stereotype. We’re all human; our interests, hobbies and outward appearances shouldn’t be condensed into simple feminine or masculine labels. We need to stop living with the notions that women must look and act one way while men must look and act another. After all, we are all human.