I Am a Feminist (and You Might Be One, Too)
by Elena Greco
February 16, 2017
I am a feminist.
What does that mean? “Feminist” seems to conjure up all sorts of negative images for some people.
According to Merriam-Webster, a feminist is “a person who supports ‘feminism’.” Their definition of “feminism” is 1) the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities; and 2) organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests.
So according to Merriam-Webster, I am someone who has the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities and that I support organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests.
Urban Dictionary offers this definition: “A person who supports equality between the sexes.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines “feminism” as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”
So, yes, I am a feminist. I believe that female human beings should have all the rights, privileges and opportunities that male human beings have. How could that be objectionable to anyone?
Feminist does not mean liberal, it does not mean militant, it does not mean “against” anything; it means you are “for” women and equal rights and opportunities. Yet some people refer to those who consider themselves feminists (which I would assume would include all educated or intelligent human beings) as “feminazis.”
As you might guess, that term is a combination of “feminist” and “Nazi.” The term was coined by Rush Limbaugh in 1989. According to Wikipedia, “’feminazi’ is a term used pejoratively to describe either feminists who are perceived as extreme or radical, women who are perceived as seeking superiority over men (rather than equality), or to describe all feminists.” “Feminists who are perceived as extreme or radical” seems to refer to the perception of a person other than the feminist, someone who assumes that anyone who would like women to have the same rights as men to be “radical.” I would have to ask, what century might that person belong to? Because that is certainly not an extreme belief or a new one. As for “seeking superiority over men,” I don’t know any women who are doing that. We have been seen as inferior for such a long time that just evening up the playing field is a mighty challenge. I don’t know any feminists who are striving for superiority over men. If there are, they should probably be given a different name from the rest of us, maybe “Amazonians.”
No, we feminists just want to be treated as equal, rather than as less than. We would like to earn the same pay for the same job as a man does, rather than 77 cents to his dollar. We would like not to automatically be viewed as less capable simply because we do not have a penis (which has never actually conferred capability or superiority, but is simply an organ for perpetuating the species). We would like to have the same right that men have to manage our own health and our bodies. Should a man have to obtain permission from his wife or mother or doctor in order to have a vasectomy? I think not. Neither should a woman have to have permission from a husband or doctor or really anyone at all in order to do anything whatsoever with her own body.
So being a feminist is really a pretty ordinary thing. It means I value women, I honor women, I respect women. I would like women to be seen as equal, rather than as less than. I would like to earn a reasonable wage, based on my abilities and experience, rather than on my gender. I would like to make my own medical decisions. Is that so unreasonable?
If you don’t think so, you just might be a feminist, too.
And for those who aren’t feminists, which would be those people who believe women to be inferior, who do not want to grant them a reasonable wage based on their abilities and experience, and who do not want them to be able to make their own medical decisions, there is a term for you, too. But I won’t mention it here. If you’re listening, I would ask that you consider your own wife, daughter or mother and ask yourself honestly if you would like for her to be treated the way I just mentioned. If not? I hate to tell you this, but you might be a feminist, too.
See Elena’s bios for more information about the author.