Women’s History Month is coming to a close, and what an eventful month it’s been. This year alone, feminism has gained some serious momentum. But with that success, there will undoubtedly be some arguments and conversation revolving around such a hot and (for some reason) controversial topic. That being said, here are some things you should know before you argue or converse about feminism.
There isn’t a rule book.
You do not have to keep your last name when you get married or refuse to shave your legs ever again. You can be feminist and be pro-life, or be feminist and be a stay-at-home mom. Just because you call yourself a feminist does not mean you have to fall into the assumptions and stereotypes that accompany the “feminist label.” Basically, feminism has many different forms, but revolves around one idea: equality. There is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” feminist, so never shame someone for being different from you.
Feminism isn’t just about heterosexual females.
You need to be aware of trans females, gender fluidity and nonconforming individuals. Feminism is about equality. Feminists should be aware of equality between everyone; men and women, gender fluid individuals, trans females and males, the list goes on and on. Equality is about more than just equal pay for women—it is about equal treatment for everyone.
Men can and should be feminists too.
Just because it’s called feminism doesn’t mean men can’t be a part of it. Many men feel that they cannot call themselves feminists just because they are male. This is not the case! Men can and should be feminists. Feminism is about equality and changing gender and sexual norms, not taking over males. Because feminism helps change gender and sexual norms, it actually benefits men. Men are often shamed for going against gender and sexual norms. Feminism helps fight these norms, which is beneficial for everyone.
Feminists do not hate men.
So many people think that feminists hate men—this is NOT true. Feminists fight for equal rights between men and women. They are not trying to take over the world and eliminate men. In order for equality to become a reality, everyone needs to work together, including men. An individual can hate men, but feminists as a group do not hate men—that is a sweeping generalization and not true at all.
We all need feminism.
Women who say they do not need feminism are probably white, cis, straight, educated, etc. These people have not experienced the extreme effects of the patriarchy and are in a good place in their lives. Women need feminism because without it, life is more difficult. Everyone, not just women, benefit from feminism. It’s important to look at the treatment of women in different cultures and demographics. Privilege can skew what people think is a need for feminism, and that can be harmful.
Before you argue for or against feminism, try to reflect on these five points. Do not tell people they are a “good” or “bad” feminist, do not exclude people from feminism, remember men can be feminists, feminists do not hate men and that we all need feminism, not just women. These are all extremely important points that everyone needs to be aware of. Always do your research and consider multiple viewpoints before arguing about anything.
Photo by: Abby Pfaff