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The "F" Word
When I brought up the subject of feminism at the dinner table my parents groaned,
“You don’t want to be a feminist,” my dad told me.
“Feminists are just women who don’t work hard enough to succeed and are angry at the world because of it.”
I tried to tell him that true feminism was not what he was making it out to be.
I tried to tell him that I wanted to be a feminist because I was tired of the unrealistic body expectations for women.
Because my friends and I were too scared to walk around at night without an adult,
Because catcalling is not a compliment and I had learned that firsthand in the seventh grade,
Because women still make just seventy-nine cents for every dollar that a man makes,
and I may not be very good at math but even I know that that’s not equal.
When my ten year old brother announced to the family during a car ride that he was a feminist like his big sister my parents got mad at him.
Because he was told that boys aren’t allowed to be feminists,
Because he was told that being a feminist would get him beat up in high school,
Because when I tried to support him I was told to be quiet because, “He’s already soft and feminine enough don’t make it worse.”
Because they were skeptical when I tried to tell them that feminism was about gender equality not female superiority,
Because it’s still not socially acceptable for men to express true emotion,
Because fathers deserve paid parental leave too,
Because gender inequality goes both ways,
Because when boys do anything that doesn’t make them look strong and tough they are told to man up,
Because these character traits don’t have a gender but society has assigned them one anyway.
When many of my friend’s parents were shopping for their gifts last year they bought them pepper spray and mace,
Because the number one thing on many girl’s lists for Santa is safety, because everyone knows it's the old white men with the power,
Because the same dads who tell their daughters that rape culture doesn’t exist, know better than to send them off alone unarmed,
Because one in four women will be the victim of sexual assault by the time they graduate from college,
Because of human trafficking, and female genital mutilation, and the states where it is legal for a man to rape his wife,
Because we are tired of being victims in a society that refuses to acknowledge the problem,
Because self defense shouldn’t have to be wrapped up like a gift with a bow, even when it comes in the form of a pink and sparkly keychain-- especially when it comes that way.
When I wore my favorite sweater, the one with “The Future Is Female” written in big letters across the front, to tennis practice my coach told me that I was wrong,
Because when he learned that I was a feminist he said I must hate men,
Because somehow feminism has become synonymous with misandry,
Because he told me I was going to grow up husbandless and alone,
Because he asked if I wanted to ship all men off to another planet so girls can run the earth,
Because he laughed at the idea of women being in charge,
Because when I responded that I would be happy to settle for equality he was confused,
Because when I said that, he had the audacity to ask me, “Who says we don’t already have it?”.