Pause just one minute here. Say it out loud, “Feminism.” Now, take a moment to define the word “feminism” and everything it means. If you're anything like me, you won't know where to start. As an early twenty-something, straight out of college, thrown into the corporate world and trying to stay afloat, I’ve found myself tied between plenty of new challenges. I wasn't caught off guard until I was told, “You're such a feminist!” Me? Wait, why would I even want to be a feminist? I like men, I have friends that are men, I stand up for women, but I'm not yelling about it at rallies. This bothered me. Was I more naive than I realized? Being stubborn, I googled and researched to prove I wasn't a feminist. I've discovered an entire world of equality that I'm excited to dive into and learn more about. I welcome anyone who is slightly interested to expand your mind to all types of cultures and feminism. Although there are a vast amount of different types of feminism, cultures, and views, this is my personal journey. Truth be told, I accidentally proved to myself I was a convinced feminist with 11 different reasons.
1) Women Prefer to Have the Same Salary as a Man with the Same Career
– Let's go ahead and get this one out of the way. It's no secret that there is a “gender gap” in salaries for men and women. I have never heard it explained better than in the “Stuff You Should Know” podcast, “How the Gender Pay Gap Works.” This is no joke, and honestly, the statistics can be convoluted based on many things such as having babies or gender-dominant careers. It comes down to the story of Lilly Ledbetter working 19 years, in a male dominated field, and never knowing she was making thousands less per year than the lowest paid man until she was handed an anonymous note at her retirement party. Ultimately, if a woman is hired at the same time as a man and they progress at the same speed, they should be paid the same. Period.
2) You'd Never Join the “He-Man Woman Haters Club.”
Did anyone catch the “Little Rascals” reference? The club started when Spanky and the boys weren't invited to an all girls party. They appointed Alfalfa as the leader, yet he wasn't there because he was writing a love letter to his crush, Darla, proving that he wasn't much of a “woman hater” at all. Men and women start falling into groupthink really easily when they are trying to fit in. Although there are specific women, men, pet lover, and nature clubs that you don't necessary qualify for, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't support each other. If you find yourself in a club that is putting itself on a major pedestal, perhaps take a step back. Two groups standing together is stronger than two groups on their own.
3) Stay at Home Dad = Stay at Home Mom
More and more families are choosing to switch the traditional roles and have the mother go to work and have the dad take care of a child's needs while the working parent is away. Personally, I think this is a huge step for families! Believing that a man cannot parent as well as a woman is just reinforcing the thought of inequality. Feminism is about men and woman having equal rights and opportunities. More power to a man if he steps in, drives the minivan and calls himself “soccer dad.” (How's that for stereotypes?)
4) Don't Assume a Man Should Offer You His Seat
This was a big one for me in college. My university had terrible parking, so most people decided to take a bus to campus. By the end of the bus route, there was no doubt you were going to be standing and feeling like you were in a can of sardines on wheels. Personally, I've never been the girl to dress up, wear makeup every day, or even brush my hair before going to class and often rocked the Nike shorts and a t-shirt look. There was no doubt the girl in full makeup, and a cute outfit was going to be asked to sit down before me, which was fine. What struck me was overhearing conversations from girls that said, “I can't believe he hasn't offered me a seat.” Truth be told, it's a chivalrous thing to do to offer a woman a seat, but it's a whole other story to have a woman feel like she is entitled to the seat. Do not expect to be treated differently because you are a woman. Treat everyone with respect. Do not be spoiled and expect to be treated fairly when you are putting yourself on a high horse. When I was asked, I always said, “I really appreciate it, but I'm good.” To me, it wasn't that I felt degraded, or I was too good to take a man's seat; it's just that I didn't need it.
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5) Refusing to Use Terms that Degrade Women
When you're out in public, you must remember that each person you see has a heart and soul just like you. When there is a girl walking down the street in skimpy clothes or hanging all over a guy at the bar, we must all try to avoid calling that girl a “slut,” whore,”floozy,” etc. Let's be honest; we've all been there. Men, women, no gender at all, no one deserves to be called names. But slang terms used to specifically call out a woman’s promiscuity or to belittle a woman/man does not make sense. Using synonymous terms to describes a woman's privates, utilized in a negative connotation, are just naive. Do you realize how strong a woman's reproductive system is?
6) Not Classifying Items as “Girly.”
Recently, Fiat came out with an ad to not put any labels on its cars. Fiat has a great point. What makes an object manly, nerdy, girly, or gay? If you feel that a man walking up to a bar and ordering a cosmopolitan makes him less than a man, you may not be a feminist. You'd probably also look down on the fact that, as a woman, I hate sugary drinks and prefer whiskey straight. Or, would a man find that attractive because I can keep up with “the boys?” If you try your best to look at objects as they are and not give them a gender role, you're definitely on board with the feminist mindset.
7) Care for LGBTQ rights
This specifically can fall under the egalitarian mindset, but it makes sense in feminism too. Feminists tend to support LGBTQ and LGBTQ support feminists. This is because of one main reason; they want everyone to be equal and to feel freedom from social and economic prejudices. If you are more of a progressive and believe people should love who they want, without traditional gender roles being involved, you're a part of a quickly growing community. If you think “Gender Roles are Dead,” I encourage you to check out FLAVNT Streetwear. They are an amazing up and coming clothing design company consistently giving back to the LGBTQ community.
8) Don't Degrade Men
Be a feminist and be loud and proud. There is nothing wrong with that. Being a feminist doesn't mean to put men down or hate them. Personally, I haven't had a ton of “man friends” in my life, but the ones I do have are absolutely some of my best friends. Historically, feminists have been portrayed as “she-woman man haters” (see what I did there?) and butch women who hate the thought of a man. This isn't true, and feminists don't hate men. Hating anyone as a feminist is blatantly a step in the opposite direction.
9) You're Tired of the Stereotypes
Men don't always need to be big and buff, provide for their families or do the yard work. Women don't need to take care of a man, make sandwiches, look after the kids, or clean the house. These roles are the stereotypes that can be funny jokes, but can quickly turn into really offensive and down right ignorant comments. Although you may jokingly tell your girlfriend to “Make me a sandwich!” don't feel like you are entitled actually to receive the sandwich.
10) You Don't Hesitate at the Sound of “Madam President.”
Whether you are an overexcited “Hillary for 2016” advocate or not, you believe that a woman is just as capable of being President of the United States as a man. Women's prevalence in politics is growing and no doubt there are more women that are going to step up to the presidential podium in the future. If you believe a woman is just as capable as a man, no matter the feat, you believe a woman can also be president. Rumor has it that women were brought to the United States to help create a government because the Men of Jamestown could not put down the bottle long enough to create a consistent, successful bureaucracy.
11) Actively Support Women
Supporting women doesn't mean going to your nearest state capital and yelling for women's rights. As a woman it means to speak up for yourself, address compensation differences, and hold yourself accountable to be just as strong as your male counterparts. As a man, it means to respect all women, don't be offended if a woman declines your offer for a seat, and don't be afraid to order that cosmopolitan. For all genders, it means taking all these reasons and more and living by them.
No matter which dictionary you refer to, feminism boils down to equality for everyone. Next time you hear the word, “feminism” do not shiver in disgust and think “man-haters.” You may not see eye to eye with everything a feminist may believe in; but if you believe in gender/human equality, it is accurate to call yourself a feminist, better yet, an egalitarian. Maybe a convinced feminist like myself. Be proud.