By: Alicia Gallagher
What does feminism mean to you? It is an important question to address in our present history. If you type feminism into google, the first hit you’ll get is this definition: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality of men”. This is a broad starting point of what the term actually represents. Feminism supports equality for black, white, Japanese, Spanish, and all other races of women, along with women of any sexual orientation. This is an important point to make clear, feminism is equal rights for everyone (including genderqueer people).
I interviewed a variety of people ranging from ages 18 to 28, both men and women. While not every person considered themselves to be a feminist, when asked to explain their reasons behind this, the general consensus was that they didn’t want to be labeled a feminist. Many of those interviewed understood what feminism stands for, but only associate the word with radical feminists, typically mistaken for misandrists (those who hate all men). This response from a woman I spoke to struck me: “It’s hard to know what feminism means and have people react negatively to me wanting equality”, Before researching for this article, I felt hurt by all the negativity towards feminism. But what I have come to see throughout my interviews is that most people that claim they are not feminists, later went on to say that they support equal rights for everyone. They just did not want the radicalism of women viewing themselves as superior to men.
When asked about ways to change this negative stigma surrounding feminism, many people stated that education is key. Feminism is something that needs to penetrate through thousands of years of societal and cultural norms. While it may not be as prominent as in past generations, people of other cultures still have those strict rules and customs that help fuel the imbalance in equality. It is important to direct all feministic education towards all types of women and men, including factors such as race, background, orientation, size, and age.
Along with education, an interviewee stated that “having more people, especially people in a position of power or the public eye, own the term of feminist will help with the movement and ultimately the world.” Another said, “we need more celebrities standing up for feminism on the Instagram and Twitter accounts”. With this type of advocacy, considering how media centered our society is now, the feminist movement has the potential to spread like wildfire.
Other points that have been made throughout this process are that everyone should have equal wages, equal parental leave, men should not have to be afraid of wearing makeup or wearing something pink, the list goes on. Feminism is not just about equality of women, it is advocacy for every single individual and all groups of people.
What do you think? What are your thoughts on feminism? Do you think that Fitchburg State is doing a good job addressing it? Let us know in the comments section below.