I am a feminist, and I believe in the power of the feminist movement.
Gloria Steinem once said that “a feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” Steinem and her predecessors make that movement possible.
On March 25, Steinem turned 80. In her lifetime, the feminist movement has come a long way. Throughout the last 80 years, we’ve seen The Feminine Mystique, Roe v. Wade, Rosie the Riveter and the third wave of feminism, to cite a few.
That being said, feminism has a long way to go.
We still live in a culture that accepts unequal pay between genders, perpetuates rape culture and treats women as objects. In ‘less developed’ areas of the world, gender-related issues of oppression and mistreatment are too vast for me to stomach.
We live in a world that still needs feminism.
Not necessarily the feminism of bra-burning, narrowly-focused, upper-class white women, but feminism none-the-less.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Second-wave feminism (that of Steinem and her peers) was a critical facet of progress for women, and we would not be where we are today without it.
But second-wave feminism is no longer enough and hasn’t been for quite some time, yet it remains the image of the ‘women’s rights’ movement.
Maybe it’s because of this image or simply out of fear of empowered women, but we see feminism as a dirty, shameful word. Apparently, equality is bad. Damn those liberal feminists and their desire for agency.
I am a feminist.
I shave my legs, don’t burn my bra, like to bake cupcakes, secretly love romantic comedies and don’t hate men (most days).
My feminism is different from Steinem’s, but it’s possible because of her work.
Modern, 21st-century feminism is not about women, at least not for me. Terms like ‘women’s issues’ and ‘women’s rights’ trouble me, to be quite frank.
I should back up. I am not saying women are not marginalized, oppressed, or discriminated against; we certainly are. The treatment of women, however, is not a women’s issue; it’s a human issue. ‘Women’s issues’ do not affect just women, nor do they require the attention exclusively of women.
As we assert our preconceived notions of the female gender, we simultaneously perpetuate the stereotypes of the male gender, forcing us into a gender binary which benefits no one.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that gender does not exist in a vacuum. Gender is related to race, which is related to socioeconomic class, which is related to religion; the list goes on and on.
These qualities are components of our multifaceted and ever-changing identities; they should not define us. As a result, it makes little to no sense to examine one of them without considering its relationship to the others. This type of intersectionality is what defines the modern feminist movement, even if that’s not often how it’s perceived.
For some reason, as a society, we assume that the defining quality of a feminist is anger. Feminists are supposed to be mad, bitter, man-hating women who find enjoyment in bitching.
If you ask me, that sounds rather exhausting.
I won’t pretend that the ‘plight of women’ doesn’t sometimes send me off on tirade because sometimes it does. It’s an unfortunate downfall of education; it isn’t always easy to process.
There are days when the reality of the state of our world leaves me in a dark and twisted state of sadness, but at the end of the day, knowledge is power. And I think that the fight for equality and universal human rights is worthwhile.
After all, in the words of Steinem, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
Sabrina Brown is the Editor-in- Chief of the Newswire. She is a senior English major from Shelby, Ohio.