As activist Gloria Steinem declared, "a feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men." So, how can a man who says he has "tremendous respect for women" not identify as a feminist?
During an interview over the weekend, President Trump stated that he is not a feminist despite claiming to be supportive of both men and women. He believes feminism is too extreme. And unfortunately, many men and women also refuse to identify as feminists.
The truth is, you either stand for women's rights or you are against them. There is no middle ground. And if you believe in the rights of women, then you would be a feminist.
Supporting the Black Lives Matter movement does not mean you believe that black people are better than white people. It means you believe that they deserve fair treatment regardless of race. Feminism acts in the same way, it aims to ensure that all genders receive the same opportunities. So, why is feminism considered such a dirty word?
Actress and United Nations Women ambassador Emma Watson reclaims the definition:
"I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism by definition is: 'The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.' . . . Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. . . Feminism is not here to dictate to you. It’s not prescriptive, it’s not dogmatic. All we are here to do is give you a choice. . . We need to live in a culture that values and respects and looks up to and idolizes women as much as men…”
Feminism preaches the benefits of gender equality not only for women, but for humanity as a whole. For example, gender equality leads to a more equal workforce, more education for women and more control over their bodies.
There are many other ways, however, that gender equality can benefit us. Relationships can act as fair partnerships, in which each person both gives and takes. Everyone can feel comfortable enough to express their feelings, particularly men who are constantly told by society to "act tough" and women who are often dismissed as "hysterical," or "overdramatic." This could lead to decreased suicide rates, which are especially high among males who have trouble sharing their emotions. No gender should feel forced to live up to an expectation, and with feminism, people can get to truly be themselves without societal pressure.
There is nowhere on Earth that has achieved full gender equality and we need to put in much more effort if we want to see it in our lifetimes. I believe change will start with the acceptance of the movement. If a world of gender equality is an idea you support, then you are a feminist. I would like to believe that most people are feminists. Do not be afraid of the word. Feminism stands for equality between genders. Male and female should not be seen as opposites, but rather a spectrum as most gender studies reveal. Men must support both men and women; women must support both men and women.
Let’s unite to fight gender inequality. Start by calling yourself a feminist.
Lead Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons