What Feminism Means to Me
The UN Women based in New York, NY defines feminism as “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 genders and sexes.” It is not the goal of feminism to disparage femininity or to believe that women are superior to males.
As an unapologetic feminist in the twenty-first century, we still have not globally achieved gender equality. Feminism is essential, especially for women because they have fought for equality and against oppression for centuries.
Despiste some victories, like the right to vote and equal access to education, women continue to be disproportionately impacted by all forms of violence and discrimination in all facets of life. Generally speaking, feminism is a movement to end all forms of sexism as well as attaining complete gender equality in both law and practice.
Anyone can identify as a feminist. Feminism is not only a movement for women. This is due to the fact that gender equality affects everyone in society. There should be no exceptions to such horrendous treatment especially when the only difference between men and women is biologically the genitalia.
In many cultures, and countries around the world, including the United States, women are primarily oppressed by the power of men and exposed to societal injustice and unfair discrimination. For instance, while attending a recent conference on the status of African women, a speaker urged women to pursue higher education, live independently, and never rely on anyone.
Post event, the speaker received sexist criticism from a group of men with labels such as the speech at the event was so un-African, masculine, and was advised to behave feminine and stop acting aggressive and brainwashing and arming women.
It is crucial to promote an atmosphere and a world in which everyone is treated equally, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Mission Harbor Behavioral Health, an accredited outpatient mental health treatment center in Santa Barbara, CA mentioned that “suppressing emotions specifically for men can increase their risk of suicide.” So, teach young men that it is acceptable to be vulnerable and express emotions for example by crying, and not to hide their suffering out of a phobia of being viewed as unmanly or weak.
Consequences of coaching males as children to “man up” or “act like a man” can lead to an adult man with toxic, violent behavior toward others because the act is a demonstration of learned masculinity.
Normalize and embrace the idea that being single, dating, unmarried, remarried, divorced, childless and unwilling to submit to any men as typical for women. Also, given the probability that the man a woman will more likely marry will not be a virgin, we should not push girls to remain virgins.
There is no such thing as men being the “heads of households” in marriage because it is about partnership, not ownership. If a woman can work as a professional and then come home to a second unpaid job such as cooking for her family, and changing her child’s diaper, then a man must be capable of performing the same task.
Although patriarchy undoubtedly causes the greatest acute and structural harm to many, including gender nonconforming individuals, and trans people, it also fosters attitudes and standards that are constricting and limiting for cisgender men. Moving past the ancient patriarchal paradigm will be useful in bridging the gap of inequality.
The ideology of American modern culture, for instance, seems to encourage the notion that women are less qualified and capable than males, regardless of a woman’s experience, education, or ability. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health states “exclusion and injustices towards women continue to have far reaching conclusions because of the way our social systems are organized with men’s ever increasing economic power and control in the form of inequality, a driving force that maintains patriarchal systems.”
Because of patriarchy, people now perceive strong, intelligent women as a threat rather than an essential component of the social order.
Become and practice feminism by eliminating generational cultural norms, gender and identity preconceptions in daily living. Say “no to sexism” to build a world that recognizes, values and empathizes with everyone and grants freedom to all mankind. Remember, that internalized misogyny, where women subconsciously project ideas onto other women and even themselves by judging other women or believing that women are inferior to men, is a dangerous precedent for feminism.
Be aware of your thoughts and ideas not only about other women, but also about yourself, because empowered women empower other women. Furthermore, a crucial step in pursuing equity and justice is becoming aware of one’s privilege.
No one has neutral or unbiased experiences. Men should start by becoming more aware of how their manhood affects their perception of the world. Those interested in going beyond theoretically supporting feminism to really consider practically changing their behavior by looking within to see how society’s conceptions of sexual and gender identity have harmed them and be a vocal voice of equity for all.