My father is one of the most influential people in my life.
He supports my endeavors – he”s always one of the first people to text me when one of my articles comes out. He wants to discuss my plans for the future regularly, and he trusts me to choose what is best in my eyes. He never fails to remind me that I can do whatever I set my mind to.
The man helped raise four daughters to be independent young women. So one day, I informed him that he was a feminist.
“Don”t say that,” he said. “I don”t think that”s the right word.”
And yet, my dad is definitely, irrevocably a feminist. The trouble is the interpretation of the words “feminism” or “feminist.”
These words are admittedly intimidating – they imply drastic political demonstrations and the demonization of men and housewives alike. But, like with all social justice movements, the radical few seem to become the face of the movement, leaving feminists like myself with a bad reputation.
If I say I”m a feminist, I must cringe at the concept of the stay-at-home mom. As a feminist, I obviously think men are entitled pigs who deserve to take a backseat to women. As a feminist, I must believe minorities deserve to be favored in all circumstances, no questions asked. I”m also clearly a lesbian, a bra burner and a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Yet, every single one of those assumptions about me is wrong.
Feminism, as I have been taught, is about equal opportunities for all. This is not confined to women having an equal opportunity to be the CEO of a massive corporation. Feminist ideals also say a woman has the absolute right to be a stay-at-home mom without the disapproval of so-called “feminists.”
Women who gawk at another female”s audacity to choose to raise her children from home – an extremely difficult and underrated job – are not feminists. They are rude, and they clearly miss the point.
Feminism is also not a movement that”s confined to women – it applies to all people. Every gender, race and sexuality benefits from feminist ideals. Yes, even men. This stereotype that feminism is anti-man needs to end now. If feminism were anti-man, it would negate the entire point of feminism.
It”s simple really. Feminism is about breaking down gender barriers – those things that say women, men and every other gender on the spectrum are expected to do certain things, act certain ways, choose certain careers – the list goes on. Feminism is about eliminating these limits altogether, not aggressively transcending them by expecting all women to be lawyers and all men to raise children. While this is not all that feminism embodies, it seems to be where most of the confusion lies when apprehension toward feminism surfaces.
The true downfall of feminism is not the radical few members of the movement who wrongly represent the rest of us. The true issue lies in the lack of widespread education on what the word “feminist” really means. The problem with feminism is that a nearly 50-year-old man who embodies the movement is in denial because “feminist” just can”t be the “right word.”
Let”s reclaim the word for what it is – nothing to fear, and everything to gain.