The Female Perspective: What is Feminism?

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 

It's true!
It’s true!

I was contemplating my blog today (because that’s what I do these days) and thinking that I missed something the first time I posted. I know that many of us identify as feminists but there seems to be so many definitions of it flying around that the true meaning has gotten lost somewhere. Worse than that, it seems that saying you are a feminist is a dirty word, one that people scoff at and eye you distrustfully because being a feminist clearly means you are an angry person (I’m being nice here since this is a family-friendly blog, the reality is that, people have foul mouths when it comes to feminism).

True story folks.
True story folks.

Recently, Harry Potter star, Emma Watson, was named a United Nation Women Goodwill Ambassador, while her impact on the movement remains to be seen, she positively knocked my socks off with her impassioned speech that commented on the state of feminism today.

I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive.

Why is the word such an uncomfortable one? I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.

~Excerpted from Vanity Fair

The fact is, the word feminist needs to be taken back. We need to “rebrand” it. We need to announce our feminism with pride, not shame. We need to be aware of the inequalities between men and women and fight for change. I am not saying go out and block an Interstate in protest, I am saying the battle for equality can be won in the little, every day moments. The times when a man calls you “little lady” or you find yourself treated differently than your male counterparts, be it in terms of wages, ability or knowledge.

English statesman Edmund Burke said: “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men and women to do nothing.”

As with any world-wide issue, it’s all about taking a stand. It can be hard to spot outright anti-feminism, we are afraid to speak up because we don’t want to come off as overly aggressive, unpleasant or un-attractive. At the same time, we want to be seen as smart, capable, attractive and powerful. How do we find that balance? The answer is, we can, of course we can, but to do so we sometimes have to withstand the commentary about us being too pushy, angry or (and this is the worst one really) “on our period”.

It's great to see lots of men standing up for feminism. It's not just about women folks. It's about equality for ALL.
It’s great to see lots of men standing up for feminism. It’s not just about women folks. It’s about equality for ALL.

I want to make a point of saying that this article is geared towards both men and women. I believe there are lots of male feminists in the world.  I also believe there are lots of women out there who are anti-feminist. There is even a group called “Women Against Feminism” (which seriously bums me out), on their webpage, they have pictures of women holding signs about why they “don’t need feminism” and it makes me shake my head. The funny thing is that, everything they say about why they don’t need feminism and how empowered they are without it, is exactly what feminism IS.

To say you “don’t need feminism” because you are feminine or because you don’t need a movement to speak for you is illogical to me. I see the various movements that exist, from LGBT Rights to the fight for racial equality, and I don’t see them making a stand against those movements. I think this is because they realize that they need organization to make their voices heard, that it actually helps to know you are not alone.

Because being a feminist is equated with being a man-hating, hairy-legged brat (again, family blog, going easy with the language) women try to stay as far away from labeling themselves as feminist as possible.

Well, I for one, am going to say right here and now that I am a feminist and I am proud of it. I don’t hate men, I love men! I know some really great men who want women to be equal and who have, or are raising, girls to believe in their own worth. To believe in themselves and their rights as people. It seems so simple to me, I want there to be equal rights for everyone; male, female, black, white, hispanic, gay, straight, etc.  Maybe that makes me a humanist as well.

Also, unlike some articles I’ve read recently, I don’t believe that feminism started the war on men. I know from looking at history that women were looked down upon long before feminism came into being. If we have always been equal and therefore “don’t need” feminism, why couldn’t women vote? Why didn’t women have a say in their futures? Why weren’t women able to have a job? Without feminists, we wouldn’t be able to vote, make our own life choices or work.

Patrick Stewart, a man that I adore. And a feminist!
Patrick Stewart, a man that I adore. And a feminist!

Now, I realize that men are exploited too. Within our culture is a double-standard that is both ridiculous and frustrating. Take, for example, a man asks an attractive woman out on a date and she finds him offensive and humiliates him in public, mocking him and insulting him for even asking her out. If that same man was asked out by a woman he found unattractive and he politely says no thank you – he is then verbal attacked by all sides for being anti-feminist and cruel. Where is the line between being feminist and being overly sensitive? Where is the line between owning your sexuality and being exploited? These are tricky topics where the answers seem to elude us all. It seems to come down to a matter of personal opinion which isn’t right, everyone has a different idea of what is sexy and what is “too” sexy. I want to be able to speak my mind and be sexy without being cut down for being a slut or being it being assumed that I am one.

The fact is, feminism should’t be a bad word. It should be a movement to promote equality between men and woman (as it is defined in the dictionary), nothing more, nothing less. Feminism is not about hating men, having hairy legs and being bossy. It is about loving who you are as a woman while also knowing when to speak up when something isn’t fair. It’s about owning who you are and owning your sexuality. It’s about equality.

I’m a feminist because I believe in the equality of genders and all human beings.

What about you? What do you think about feminism?

2 thoughts on “The Female Perspective: What is Feminism?

  1. I love that you are level headed enough to not recommend blocking the interstate, yet still advice standing up for personal convictions. Interesting perspective here

  2. Thanks Lydia! I appreciate your comments.

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