Artwork by Grace D. Chin. Image from www.pinterest.co.uk
When the topic ‘feminism’ comes up at our daily lunch breaks at school, I find the table very divided, and with each passing day I see the feminist side waning. When it comes to the most influential aspects of a teenager’s life, social media takes the cake. Take Tumblr for example. You’re either for or against it, there’s no in-between.
The ‘against’ people, are particularly interesting and seem to find pleasure in going against everything mainstream. So when Tumblr – a place known for feminists and hipsters who like to vent – becomes mainstream all the stubborn teenagers of my generation decide to attach negativity to the word feminism.
A good friend of mine enjoys mocking me, because apparently I fit into the (and I quote) ‘Tumblr-Try-Hard’’ cliché – I know, right? I’m friends with a bloody fool. He then gets the pleasure of watching me become furious at the idea that I’m such a person.
My friend has built up the idea in his mind that feminists are crazy females looking for an excuse to be in the media – to put it lightly, ‘attention seekers’. This raises so many questions, one of them being “Aren’t those just the radical feminists?” As a feminist, I’d like to think that I’m a level headed person, especially when it comes to my beliefs and how I act upon them. There are radicals in just about everything, but to form an impression of a group based on the actions of an extreme few, is unbelievably stupid.
My dear friend’s opinion on the matter has always astounded me because I consider him a sensible, smart person. Which is probably why he is so stubborn on this matter. The extremities of a radical feminist should not define the majority of us. Our generation does not deserve to grow up in the idea that being a feminist means something negative. There are far more pressing issues at hand than the negative connotations of feminism.
I came across a few articles the other day; one highlighting a Blog (yes on Tumblr) called “Women Against Feminism”. The minute I saw this I wanted to weep for all the people out there who clearly don’t understand what the term feminism.
The word itself was derived from the French word féminisme, which was introduced into the English Language shortly after suffrage movement and it referred to general equality rather than just the right to vote. Both movements stand for the idea of equality of both women AND men. Anything above that is just simply out of the question, no gender should be above the other. It’s common for most feminists to hear “why is it called feminism if it’s for all genders?”. And I get it, the name sounds biased. It’s 2016 guys, most modern privileged countries believe men and women should be equal – but this does not mean that sexism doesn’t still occur in workplaces (as shown with the gender pay gap) and in society in general. The word feminism is simply the word we use.
For so many around the world, the word ‘feminism’ is synonymous with hope. As someone who has sought out hope once or twice in her life, I can’t stress how important something like hope is to all of us. The word feminism is the definition of equality for both genders, to think it means anything but this is simply false.
Another common question people ask feminists is “why not humanism?” The answer is simple; the word Humanism does not mean the same thing as feminism because it is a different thing entirely.
Humanism is the idea that every human starts on the same level, the trouble with humanism is that it disregards the fact that some humans are more privileged than others. Humanism, as noble as it’s intentions sound, is actually far too general. Rather than acknowledging humans as intricate beings, all the different complications of their lives are smoothed over, even ignored.
Feminism on the other hand, does account for our different starts in life, and gender is a big part of why we’re not all equal. And by factoring in our differences, feminism also provides the road map for a better future.
So put your assumptions to rest.
The idea that equality has been achieved is also astounding. Have these people no idea of the experiences of women in other cultures? The women without the voice, the women hurt by the ones they love and the girls just 13 years old and already married? Those women and girls are the ones we are fighting for. It doesn’t matter whether or not you want to be a feminist, as long as you’re an advocate for the rights of women and girls, the label doesn’t matter. In the end if you care about equality, if you fight for equality -despite what your label may be- you fight alongside everyone else, whether you’re a Feminist or a Humanist you fight the same battles as us.
Renae is a 15 year old music-obsessed hippie who enjoys all things that require procrastination and big words.