The True Meaning of Feminism | Teen Ink

The True Meaning of Feminism

January 20, 2016
By Anonymous

For years women have been degraded and given unfair treatment due to their gender. They are looked at unequally when it comes to jobs, politics, sports, and more. Women stood up and said enough is enough, bringing about the feminist movement. Feminism is often misunderstood, and those who call themselves feminists may be hypocritical with their actions due to a lack of understanding. I intend to shed some light on the meaning of feminism to solve the misunderstanding.


From it’s first use circa 1890, feminism has been through three waves. Through all three, the main focus was always enhancing the rights of women, whether that be the right to vote or social discrimination. During the current third wave, an idea has sprouted that feminists believe women are superior to men and intend to attack men to make them lesser beings.


The idea that feminists hate men is a common misconception that has led to the criticizing of feminism. This idea has spread through the hypocritical actions of feminists who lack the knowledge of what feminism truly is. Feminism, although its main focus being on empowering women, is a movement of equality for all. Sadly, in a world full of technology, people believe what they read on social media like twitter instead of doing their own research. Because of this, these false feminist ideas can be spread rampantly making it difficult for it to reach its ultimate goal. My friend Bailey is a feminist and is, in my opinion, an excellent example of what a feminist is. When asked, “if you're a feminist, why don’t you go shirtless at the pool?” She responded saying that she thinks men and women should be covered. While this is not a huge issue that feminists fight for, it still shows how she puts men and women on the same level, as a feminist should. Countless times I have seen people approach her to call her out for hating men, and she responds calmly and maturely, explaining to them what feminism means because they were too busy to google feminism on the same device they saw those false ideas on twitter or Facebook. Whether it’s the hypocritical actions of a false feminist, or someone with misunderstood ideas, it has brought the rise of what is known as meninism. Meninism is widely known on social media and was started to be a satirical way of pointing out those hypocritical feminists. Instead of being a respected movement and fighting for male discrimination, it has become a misogynistic group that does nothing but slow down the efforts towards equality.


Another misconception is that only women can be feminists. I knew from the beginning I would be writing this essay to define feminism. When asked by my peers what I was writing about, people would respond to me saying feminism by chuckling or saying “really?” as if I was joking. I did not ask them their reason behind their responses but could infer that it was because I am a male. They thought because I am a male I cannot write about feminism or I cannot be a feminist. This kind of thinking further shows the lack of knowledge on what feminism is. The idea of feminism is to make men and women equal, there are no exclusions on who can help. Not only would this go against the idea of equality but it would also be hard to spread equality to both genders if one gender does not assist. I can see the issues females face, why would I just stand around and watch it happen. Not doing anything advocates the discrimination. Any gender is welcomed to assist in the fight for equality and should feel the need to.
As I’ve said, feminism is not about degrading men and does not exclude genders. What feminism does mean is equality. That is the core value behind feminism and that is what comes to my mind when I hear the word feminism. Of course, to elaborate on the definition, it is the movement to bring equality between men and women. This is what I describe feminism as and what I think other feminists would agree the definition is. A big issue today is rape, and feminists are working hard to fight against it. Women are told that they were asking for it based off how they are dressed. Feminists are outraged that the female body is sexualized in this way to blame the victim. This rape culture is sickening and is a huge reason we need feminism. Feminists also fight to protect male victims of rape. If a man says he’s been raped you get comments such as “he probably enjoyed it.” Males have the same possibility of being victims as women do and feminists identify this issue. These are just some issues of many that illustrate the need for feminism. Feminists speak up for what is right and spread the information of issues that some may not notice.


While investigating my word I’ve seen that there are countless people that are confused about what feminism really is. I feel this is due to false information that is easily spread through social media. It is important that we don’t make assumptions of words and take the time to truly understand what they mean. If we don’t take the time to learn the true definition of words, such as feminism, we risk delaying the efforts of an important social movement.


The author's comments:

There are many misconceptions of what feminism actually is and what it's goal is. I am hoping to solve some of these misconceptions and open people's eyes to what feminism is all about.


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