• The Calypso Journal

Why are people afraid of the word "feminism"?

by: Eliza Chirițoiu

Even though the past has taught us that men and women cannot be seen as equal, the present is giving us the chance to learn from our previous mistakes and understand that in the modern world such issues as sexism are no longer bearable. Feminism represents an opportunity to the ones that have been discriminated in the past. It's a way of making them able to keep their heads up and know that someday their problems will be solved. Ever since its appearance, the movement has changed our lives drastically: we have gotten the right to vote, and to abort, to better education, salaries and overall, a better life. It helped many men and women turn into the best version of themselves, the movement becoming a true accomplishment for our world. Over the past years, the feminist movement has attracted significant attention due to campaigns such as “#MeToo”, launched in 2006 by Actress Alyssa Milano, the 2017 Women’s March that resulted from the US Presidential Elections and the claims against Harvey Weinstein, accused of sexually assaulting over 80 women. And so, if feminism has increased the quality of life ever since its appearance, why are people still reluctant to call themselves “feminists”? The answer to this question can be looked at from different points of view. According to the February 2015 “Burk” survey done at the Redwood University, the results show that even though 88.8% of the students said that they believe in the equality of genders, only 33.8% identified as feminists, so what is it about the word “feminism” that creates such a controversial subject? The first problem we may encounter comes from misunderstanding the word itself. When we use the term “feminism”, we are not only talking about women’s issues, but also men’s issues. Both genders fight different battles that are hard to face and deserve the same amount of attention. By disgracing men’s struggles and lowering their status in order to obtain “equality”, we can only create misandry, which is exactly the opposite of feminism. True feminists do not hate men. They support the difficulties they face and try to help them in the fight for true equality. Due to the misunderstandings that appeared over time, people tend to believe that women are actually trying to take away the power of men in any shape or form, and replace them. In reality, feminists fight against any gender supremacy and try to create a balance of power between men and women. Still, everyone has to understand that the spotlight has been on women so far, because the battles they had to go through were more urgent and difficult than the one's that men were facing. When all those battles have been solved, there is finally time to pay the same amount of attention to both sides. Women that try to bring men down in order to succeed cannot be called feminists. By trying to rise above men, we do nothing else but oppress the other side, which is not gender equality, but flipping around which gender faces the unfortunate battle. The belief that only women can be feminists is in contradiction with the definition itself: “Feminism is trying to obtain equal rights for all people, no matter their gender, race or sexual orientation”. The movement fights for reproductive rights, maternity leave, equal payment and against sexual assault and violence, which are issues that influence not only women’s lives, but also men’s. Overall, the problem is not that people disagree with gender equality, but rather that they have been taught a wrong definition of the word "feminism", causing misunderstanding that could very well be solved through mutual collaboration of everyone involved. Some fear to use it, due to the myths that have been flying around for years, making it easier for people to believe the wrong things, when in reality, the stigma around the word is not only unnecessary, but damaging to the awareness and attention this movement truly deserves.

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