Feminism promotes equality for all


By Anna Kreynin, Homestead High School

They claim to advocate for equality. They claim to want the opportunity to hold any career position. They argue against modern feminism while simultaneously expressing the desire for egalitarianism.

They are the Tumblr group Women Against Feminism (WAF).

Google defines the feminist movement as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.” To the WAF, however, feminism is about categorizing men as enemies and women as victims. According to the Boston Globe article, “Women Against Feminism: Some women want equality without anger,” the WAF believe that feminism “has come to mean something else: vilification of men, support for female privilege and a demeaning view of women as victims rather than free agents.”

This is a hasty generalization to make about an entire movement. To the surprise of anti-feminists, true feminists, who advocate for equal human rights, do exist, and their work is changing the world.

An obvious and admirable example, Malala Yousafzai, 17-year-old Nobel Peace Prize recipient, put her life on the line for the sake of female education in her home country of Pakistan. Shortly after BBC Urdu released her diary detailing her desire for education, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman. Today, fully recovered from the attack, Yousafzai is the founder of the Malala Fund, which aims to eradicate forced marriages and domestic violence while providing education for both girls and boys across the globe. Obviously, gender issues in the United States do not rival those in third world countries. Nevertheless, Yousafzai’s actions prove that feminism is a movement capable of saving lives as well as saving human equality.

Emma Watson, United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, believes that although feminism is an “unpopular” word due to uninformed misconceptions, the movement is not “synonymous with man hating.” In a speech preparing for the launch of her HeForShe campaign, Watson said:

“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.”

Although anti-feminists claim that their feminist counterparts aim to create an anti-male society free of chivalry and femininity, the actions of Yousafzai and Watson are obviously aimed in another direction. On August 8th, a tweet from the WAF argued, “I don’t think you understand anti-feminism: we are judging your movement by its actions, not by a dictionary.” Who are they judging? Yousafzai, whose campaign is saving thousands of young girls and boys across the globe? Watson, who simply wishes for women to attain the equality that humanity is supposed to afford them?

Aside from those in the spotlight, authentic, everyday feminists do exist. For my entire life, I have considered myself a feminist, and for my entire life, I believed that everyone else was as well. What kind of person wouldn’t want the equality that American citizenship is supposed to guarantee? What kind of person wouldn’t want to have the opportunity to follow his or her dreams without crashing into a glass ceiling just before reaching the top? What kind of person would ever want to hear the words, “You can’t do that because you’re a girl”?

If a woman–or man–wants to become a Fortune 500 CEO, feminism promotes that. If a woman–or man–wants to become a stay-at-home parent, feminism promotes that.”

I have never desired to annihilate the male population. My friends and I don’t spend lunch talking about world domination. I don’t consider a man holding the door open for me to be sexism; I consider it to be common human courtesy, and I would hold the door open for him, too. Believe it or not, the problems feminists wish to solve are real problems. The glass ceiling is a real problem. The wage gap is a real problem. Typical gender stereotyping is a real problem. The fact that women can’t effectively lead without being labeled as “bossy” is a real problem, and the fact that men can’t cry without embarrassment is a real problem.

As a human being, I don’t want my opportunities to be shaped by my gender when I enter the real world. This is a basic human wish, just like choice. Feminism, at its root, allows individuals to choose their own path. If a woman–or man–wants to become a Fortune 500 CEO, feminism promotes that. If a woman–or man–wants to become a stay-at-home parent, feminism promotes that. Feminism is about freedom of choice, freedom of opportunity and freedom of equality. Whether the Women Against Feminism wish to believe it, anti-feminism, in turn, is the opposite.