Living in the era of millennials and marches, we as women are always posed with the question “are you a feminist?” Many of us have a hard time answering that question. We do not feel the connection to the way the media and society portrays modern feminist movement. We do not necessarily agree with some of their ideas, but at the same time, we do support a woman’s equality in the workforce, in society, in the everyday. After thinking about these mixed emotions on the topic, I was introduced to an answer to that question that sums up how many women feel. Yes, I am a feminist, but by definition, not by connotation.

Before I continue, I know not everyone fits into the stereotype of the modern feminist. My only intention is to explain why so many of us do not advocate for the modern movement and that is because of the way it is perceived, even if it is not completely the way it is.

If you do a quick Google search, the dictionary defines feminism as “the advocacy of women’s right on the basis of equality of the sexes.” This is a vague definition. It is very open to interpretation, but that is what makes it so great. By this definition, we’re all feminists. We want women to be able to vote, run for office, dominate in a male dominated industry if they choose, and have all the other economic, political, and social benefits men have. What this blatant definition does not have though, is all of the connotations the word “feminist” has to it in the modern world. It does not say that women have to be pro-choice, that we have to put men down in order to advance ourselves, or that we must be a part of the sexual liberation movement that the feminist movement seems to encompass. With that said, lets dig a little deeper into these.

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Inclusivity

Today’s feminists claim to be all-inclusive. They claim to promote the voices of all women. That’s simply not true. On January 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration, thousands of women went to the streets for the Women’s March. At first, it sounded great and reasonable as a concept. It seemed like it was a march that all women were welcome to. The problem? The march aligned itself with pro-choice groups, which would have been perfectly fine, had they not excluded pro-life groups including New Wave Feminists, a pro-life group based in Texas. The pro-life group had been listed as partners of the event, but were soon removed from the list and the website completely because they were labeled as an “anti-choice” organization. This exclusiveness and the inability to support one another for such an event is why the I answer feminist, by definition. Equality of women is for all women, not just those who do or do not support certain political agendas. Feminism spans across a myriad of issues, not only reproductive care.

Men

Feminism is for the equality of women, not the superiority of women. Feminism shouldn’t be about man-hating and the demeaning of all men. Both women and men can succeed. We don’t have to put down men to advance women. In addition, men can be feminists. Men can believe in equality just as much as women and they can advocate for it too. This is why the definition of feminism is so fitting instead of the connotation. It does not define who is doing the advocating, but instead what they are advocating for.

Sexual liberation

Sometimes, it seems like this wave of feminism is more of a sexual movement than anything else. Planned Parenthood and “free the nipple” demonstrations get more coverage than the wage gap and other issues affecting women. I think this is the bit that deters many from the modern movement. You don’t have to shirtless around a city, agree with abortions, and the policies of Planned Parenthood to call yourself a feminist. Yes, you can be a feminist while still holding on to traditional family values and having a pro-life stance. How does a differing opinion suddenly negate someone from being a feminist? It shouldn’t. I believe that a woman is capable of being a CEO, a president, or whatever else a woman wants to be and puts her mind to. Feminism covers so many different issues and areas of life. It is important to appreciate that. You do not have to subscribe to the sexual liberation movements to be a feminist.

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It is time for women to stop excluding each other from efforts to advocate for ourselves and start having real conversations, not arguments, on the various facets of feminism. When someone is hesitant to answer yes to “are you a feminist,” listen to them and hear them out. Respond with intellect, do not just wait for them to stop talking simply so you can rebut. We all deserve to be a part of every conversation the world has to offer. Lift up your fellow ladies and start supporting each other. Make feminism something for everyone to be a part of, not just those who have a specific set of ideals.

To end, I will leave you with this quote: “A feminist is a person who believes in the power of women just as much as their belief in the power of anyone else. It’s equality, it’s fairness, and I think it’s a great thing to be a part of.” –Zendaya

ALEX B
CONTRIBUTOR