The F word you're not going to hear is this one: feminist. Now, so you don't have to, I'll go ahead and say it:
- A 20-something female college student writing about feminism? How original.
- Feminism?? All that stuff was handled in the 60's!!!!
- This isn't about the other F word?...I'm bored.
Yes, I am 20 years old, and yes, I am writing on a subject that many others have before me. Still, there's a reason that I, and the many before me, keep writing about this. But we'll get to that.
Back to the title of this article: We're Afraid of the F Word. And by the way, when I say "we" I mean girls like myself. Or women. Whatever you want to call us almost-basically-kind of adults who aren't guys. In my opinion, males aren't comfortable with this word either, but that's an issue for another time.
What does this F word even mean?
A) If you are a feminist you support equality between the sexes in our communities, whether they be in the local, national, or international sphere.
B) If you are a feminist you are an outdated, overly aggressive, probably lesbian who can't learn to leave well enough alone.
I'll admit, I just presented an extreme case of those who are not feminists and most likely offended some of you who think more along these lines:
"Of course I support equality, but I don't need to be a feminist. I like things the way they are. I'm not being oppressed and I'm a woman. So why bother getting all upset?"
The above statement contradicts itself, stereotypes women, and assumes an apathetic approach to real societal issues. Sound harsh? Well you should know that I have been the person thinking, saying, and supporting that very statement, so allow me to explain.
Contradicts itself: If you want there to be equality, then you don't need to be a feminist, you are a feminist.
Stereotypes women: You may not feel oppressed, but there are others that do. Many women who are the primary caregivers, single mothers, tomboys, homosexual, victims of sexual assault do feel oppressed because they are female. And there are, unfortunately, more I could add to that list. It is a disservice to other women if we assume that if we are not a victim then no one is.
Assumes an apathetic approach to real issues: Sexism is happening in the US. It's not always (but still is sometimes) something we can fight in a courtroom. Many of the changes we need need to happen one person at a time. It's got to be a change in the way we talk about each other and to each other. Who is doing the victim-blaming, and who is calling who a slut? Who is telling who that a tough, hard-working, career minded woman is not feminine? If we're honest, the answer can often be "Me" or other women.
I did not become a feminist, but realized I was one all along. A college professor of mine asked me if I was a feminist and I said no. She then asked me if I supported equitable rights between men and women. I said yes. After I connected a few more dots in my head, I realized that I was one of those terrible F words.
I told you earlier I would say why it is important (if moderately so) that I write this. It's important because I am not only 20 years old, but I am 20 years old, a Christian, born and raised in the southeast, and I love dresses. I also grew up playing with dolls, am heterosexual, and cry more than the average person. My hometown holds a special place in my heart and I do not resent my college campus nestled in the suburbs of North Carolina. I was raised by a father who has a career, and a mother who stayed at home and I loved it. All of this is meant to show you that you can be a feminist as you. The F word doesn't have to be so scary.
Be careful though, being a feminist as you entails allowing others to be feminists as themselves too. It's amazing how this attitude frees you up from all that stereotyping and generalizing. All of a sudden, that girl who only wears combat boots and t-shirts, and that girl who seems to live in the classroom (soon to be office), and that girl who loves another girl, well, they're not just feminists, they're feminine too. What it means to be female is so much bigger than one type of woman.
Again, I don't mean this as an attack. Everyone has a right to their own opinions and beliefs. I don't expect you to be any more compromising than I am.
Finally, just for fun, I am including a little feminist manifesto of my own. It lacks proper research, authority, and, probably, intelligence, but it's how I understand being a feminism. Thanks for reading!
I am a feminist because I believe that there should be equality between the sexes. I believe that women are consistently stereotyped by societal expectations that are unfair and restricting. I believe that to treat a woman like a sex object is wrong. I believe that there is a culture of victim blaming concerning sexual assault that is not properly recognized or handled. I believe that often the discourse of our media, our educators, and our friends supports the vocal suppression of what is, in reality, a diverse and capable female voice. I am a feminist because, even if I only change the way I talk about women, that matters. Feminism is not a war on men, but a fight for women.
p.s. You might be an F word too...
p.p.s. Some other people's thoughts on this issue