Take ownership of the ‘F-word’

True feminism more complex than rights for women; it’s equal rights for all

Feminism is a term that was created in the 1880s, but came into mainstream media in the mid-1900s. If you’ve ever read the news or been on the internet, you’ve heard this word.

What is feminism, though? Everyone seems to have a different definition, depending on their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion and so on. The Oxford English Dictionary defines feminism as, “The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” But in reality, it’s much more complex than that.

There’s a common misconception that feminism is only for women, due to the fact the word’s prefix “fem” correlates with “feminine,” a word to describe traditionally womanly features. In its truest definition, feminism is supposed to fight for the equality of everyone.

Feminism is not about giving women more rights than men. It’s about equal opportunities. America is long overdue in giving its minorities equal rights.

There is quite a bit of controversy that comes with feminism. It’s often reduced to a stereotype of crazy women who complain too much, and, by modern standards, lacks credibility because in mainstream media, feminism has become the token of “white feminists.”

I know what you’re thinking, “What does that mean?” “White feminism” is the most general level of feminism, focusing on female empowerment (sisterhood) and preaching about the pay gap, but it leaves minorities behind.

Not all white people who are feminists are “white feminists,” but a lot of people miss the mark on just what feminism is.

Women generally earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man. What is often neglected about this statistic, however, is that black women are paid 65 cents to a man’s dollar and Hispanic women are paid 59 cents to a man’s dollar. This makes people of color distrust feminism at first glance, because it does not represent them.

White men undeniably have the upper hand in society, but there are also issues they face that need to be addressed. For instance, white men are more prone to depression than any other race or gender. We should start addressing the mental health issues in America, and not leave anyone out when confronting the situation.

We need to address our past in order to have a prosperous future. There’s nothing wrong with admitting your privilege, in fact, it helps bring attention to inequalities in America and around the world.

Feminism isn’t just about men and women. There is a significant breakdown of levels between races, orientations, genders, and socioeconomic classes.

So what is real feminism? There’s no such thing as a “fake feminist,” because those who don’t fight for equality for everyone aren’t feminists: they’re just misusing a label to further their own cause.

The term has lost its true meaning in today’s society. It’s overused, and people are tired of hearing the word, especially because of its negative connotation.

True feminists believe in equal opportunities for everyone. This includes giving women and children access to affordable healthcare, family planning for both men and women (paternity and maternity leave), and, ultimately, an unbiased society.

There are so many elements that factor in to feminism — it isn’t skin deep. We should do research and listen to people’s suggestions, instead of assuming that they’re complaining.

We need feminism because future generations deserve to have an equal chance at prospering without their race, gender, or any other identifier holding them back. It’s time to move forward. With every year that passes, our society should be progressing — it’s the only option.

Feminism is beneficial for everyone. It allows us to be what we want, believe what we want, and live how we want without judgment.

What’s so wrong with advocating equality? If you prefer to label yourself an egalitarian or oppose labels altogether, that’s fine. Just remember, at the end of the day, change is going to come. You can either ignore the inequalities and become part of the problem, or you can jump in front of the situation and contribute to a meaningful movement.

UP graphic by Olivia Malick.

Olivia Malick, UP staff writer

Author: Olivia S. Malick

I'm currently a sophomore at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. I am the managing editor of The University Press which is the student-led, student-run newspaper of Lamar University. I have been a journalist for almost six years and it is my greatest passion in life. I love discovering the way the world works and showcasing the truth.

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