Feminism stigma unwarranted, requires re-framing

Sam Casey and Sophie Hensley

We are assuming that seeing the word “feminism” in the headline didn’t deter you from starting to read our column. Or maybe even the slightest remark about feminists exasperates you so much that you wanted to read it? Either way, we are happy to have your attention. First off, let us introduce ourselves. We are Sam Casey and Sophie Hensley and we are feminists.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” We assume that most of you would say that you believe that there should be equality between the sexes, which means… YOU ARE A FEMINIST!!!

We feel a moral obligation to dispute the negative connotations and harmful stereotypes associated with the word “feminism.” Most people assume that feminists don’t shave their armpits, like to “free the nipple,” and hate men. That’s just how it’s always been.

That said, Pat Robertson once described feminism as “a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” This could not be further from the true meaning. We simply believe that men and women should be equal in all aspects.

Most don’t consider themselves to be feminists because they fear the word feminism or are simply ignorant of the meaning. Thanks to influential figures like Beyoncé and Serena Williams, we have started to learn that feminism does not equate to the hatred of men, rather the embracing of women as an equal.

We are firm believers in equality, which means that we think that there should be no double standards for any gender. An example of this is acknowledging that there is objectification and extremely provocative lyrics rapped by male rappers about women.

However, we also know that female rappers like Nicki Minaj rap very explicitly about sex and men. Most people assume that all feminists would be angry about hearing the male rappers’ lyrics, but for us, as long as we are supporting the females in the industry that are doing the same thing, we can not be angry at the male rappers for it.

If a man gets shamed for their love of clothing or a woman gets shamed for having a lot of sexual partners, those are both examples of sexism and inequality. We, as feminists, are against that inequality.

Feminism in the media today is not only a political issue in our country but, ultimately, an ethical issue around the world. When some “feminists” want to put men down, they are not following the ideals of feminism. We are all humans living on the same planet. Therefore, no sex should be superior or make the other sex inferior.

It is important to note that feminism is such a wide spectrum, which encompasses many different views. Ours is only one. Therefore, we can not speak for all feminists, but we have nothing against men. We are against society’s viewpoint which includes the social constructs and double standards that keep being perpetrated time and time again.

Also, a lot of people close their minds because they falsely believe that there is already equality. Thousands of people argue that men and women are equal in this day and age, and yes, it is true that women have made a lot of progress since the beginning of the 20th century. However, we are nowhere near total equality.

A staggering example of this is that, according to the New York Times, there are more major companies run by men named “John” than by women altogether. If you would like a numerical representation, according to Forbes, only 3.6% of Fortune 500 companies are run by women.

Many people dispute the wage gap or call it a myth. It is true that the gap is narrowing in general, but the gap is still immense for women of color. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), in 2015, a white female made 80 cents to each white man’s dollar; whereas a Latina woman only made 54 cents.

Another worrisome fact is that the AAUW states that, “at the rate of change between 1960 and 2015, women are expected to reach pay equity with men in 2059. But even that slow progress has stalled in recent years. If change continues at the slower rate seen since 2001, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2152.”

A small way you can help this effort is by supporting Women’s History Month (March) and raising awareness of the inequality that is present.

We, as women and as a society, can not sit around and wait for 2152. We also can not endure all of these double standards and stereotypes aimed at both sexes. We need to move towards a society where men are not afraid to be emotional, and women are allowed to be independent. We need to go against the social norms and change the atmosphere in which inequality is abundantly present.