Opinion

The Truth About the “F” Word

Why Feminism Isn’t a Bad Thing

By Brielle Sparacino

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 of every year. Not only does this day celebrate the achievements of women all around the world since the beginning of recorded history, but it’s also a significant day for feminists everywhere to make their voices heard.

Feminism has become less of a taboo subject over the last few years.

However, there is still a dangerous number of people on this Earth who, for some reason, don’t believe in the practice of feminism.

While most women are on board the feminism train, it’s the men that need some reformation on the topic.

Let’s clear one thing up; feminism isn’t a bad word. I know lots of men feel threatened when they encounter a feminist, but the truth is that feminists are people, too; I know, it’s shocking.

They go grocery shopping, attend parties, and have jobs. Some of them are even in relationships and have feelings, just like men do!

Here’s another crazy tidbit of information; not only are feminists similar to men, but some of them actually are men who are brave enough to be without feeling like they are compromising their masculinity.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the actual definition of feminism is “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

Being a feminist has nothing to do with gender orientation or sexual orientation; anyone could be a feminist as long as they believe in equal rights for men and women.

Feminism does not mean you hate men. And men are not considered “weak” because they are feminists.

No woman should be afraid to walk down the street because they’re scared of being verbally or sexually assaulted by a man, and no man should be afraid to cry because “that’s not what real men do.”

As enlightening as feminism can be, it can only be truly effective when it is enforced correctly.

Sorry in advance to any Taylor Swift fans who are reading this article, but Taylor swift isn’t really a feminist.

Yes, she believes in her “squad” and “girl power” and that “girls have to stick together”, but she uses her white privilege to her advantage, and doesn’t really speak about things unless they are positively benefiting her.

On July 21, 2015, right after the nominees for the MTV Video Music Awards were announced, Nicki Minaj posted a series of tweets criticizing the lack of recognition that black women receive in the music industry.

The tweets were not directed at anyone in particular, but new age “feminist icon” Taylor Swift took it upon herself to formulate a response to Minaj, saying “I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot.”

Minaj replied with “Huh? U must not be reading my tweets. Didn’t say a word about u. I love u just as much. But u should speak on this.”

Die-hard Swifties backed up the singer’s tweet in the comments section and started an all out Twitter war between the fanbases of Minaj  and Swift.

Not every feminist is like Taylor Swift. One of the most prominent feminists is Emma Watson.

Aside from being a world renowned actress, she is also a graduate of Brown University, as well as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador.

In late September of 2014, Watson made a speech regarding gender inequality and gender stereotyping. She also launched a campaign called HeForShe that took over social media and re-embedded the term “feminism” in the minds of young people.

Although Watson merely scratches the surface of feminism by discussing the issues of gender inequality, she fails to address her white privilege, which has given her the opportunity to even speak about the issue.

Regardless, her project has gotten an enormous amount of support by individuals everywhere, from the average Joe to A-List public figures.

Rowan Blanchard, Amandla Stenberg, and Zendaya Coleman are three other examples of prominent feminists in today’s culture.

All three of these young women consistently speak out about feminist issues on social media.

Even though Blanchard is the only white individual among this group of girls, she wholeheartedly recognizes the privilege that has been handed to her due to the color of her skin.

She has also made sure to educate herself on all feminist issues, including but not limited to: rape, sexual assault/harassment, abortion, Planned Parenthood, marriage equality regarding gays/lesbians, the noticeable wage gap between men and women, cultural appropriation, body-shaming, and women’s rights to education.

Gender inequality regarding Transgender women, Hispanic/Latina women, and Native American women, as well as race issues and police brutality are important to feminism as well. Stenberg, as a Person of Color (POC) has addressed the topic of cultural appropriation, her stance on Black Lives Matter, and the submissive treatment of black women in the media.

This feminist inspiration has also helped to encourage young girls to engage in future careers in STEM, and was named one of 2015’s Feminist Celebrities of the Year, along with Blanchard.

She continues to use her voice as a platform to discuss important issues, as does Zendaya.

Zendaya, who is an actress as well as a dancer and musician, has also lent her voice to the feminist movement. Last year, Giuliana Rancic, who is a co-host on E!’s show Fashion Police, insulted and critiqued Zendaya’s hair on her Oscars red-carpet because the actress wore dreadlocks.

Zendaya wore them in an attempt to “showcase her African-American heritage in a positive light”, according to her Instagram. Rancic stated that Zendaya must have smelled of “patchouli” and “weed” at the event.

After hearing about the incredibly rude comments, Zendaya turned to social media to call out Rancic for her ignorant and inappropriate behavior.

Rancic has since publicly apologized to her and Zendaya has continued to educate her fans on the matter of feminism.

Matt McGorry, who has starred in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black as well as ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, is another well-known feminist.

He is an avid advocate for feminism and its extensive list of subcategories, as well as frequently showing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Like Rowan Blanchard, he is Caucasian, but he recognizes his privilege and uses it to spread awareness.

McGorry has even written an essay on Cosmopolitan.com, titled “How Becoming a Feminist Felt Like Falling In Love.”

In the essay he speaks about how his parents and how watching and listening to Emma Watson’s UN speech changed him and has helped him becoming a “more evolved person.”

He stated in the article that he wants to become educated about the topic of feminism as a whole, and about the issues women face all over the world.

There is simply no excuse to not be a feminist. It’s quick, easy, and pain-free, and it has the potential to bring a huge wave of positive change in this world, which is exactly what we all need at the moment.

Women shouldn’t be afraid to pursue a career in STEM for fear of seeming less girly, just like men shouldn’t be uncomfortable with pursuing a career in Classical Dance because, “why would you choose to dance when you could play football or basketball?”

This movement has become such a prominent fixture in today’s society for a good reason; when it comes to this topic, there are no sleazy, underlying motives that us women are looking to achieve.

We don’t have our hearts set on “smashing the patriarchy” or wiping out the entire male population.

All that we’re asking for is equality of the sexes in every possible aspect. We’re asking you to raise your children with mutual respect for the opposite gender.

We’re asking you to recognize that you may have been given better or more frequent opportunities because of the color of your skin, or that you’re not looked at as suspicious because of the color of your skin.

To put this simply: we’ve all heard the expression “It’s a man’s world,” right?

As women, we don’t want it to be known only as “a man’s world”, but we also don’t want it to be known only as “a woman’s world,” either; we just want a safe space for both genders to share, equally.

I sincerely hope that everyone who took time out of their day to read this has been somewhat reformed, especially the guys.

You’d better be, or the next article I’ll write will be called “Why ‘Meninism’ Doesn’t Actually Exist”.

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