Opinion: Feminism is about equality

Lesley Reno is a freshman communication major from Renick, Mo.

Feminism gets a bad rap in today’s society. Front runners of the feminist movement such as actress Emma Watson and singer Beyoncé have tried to dispel confusion and bring a positive light to the topic. Despite that, unfortunately, feminism still is treated like something dirty and even taboo. People don’t understand what the true meaning of feminism is, so they view it as something bad they need to avoid.

I think feminism is one of those words people make judgments about because of what they hear through social media and other secondary sources. Most of the time those sources can be misleading and do not provide a full picture, so to help combat that I am going to address what the word feminism means. Feminism is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. In simpler terms, feminism is the fight for equality among the sexes in all aspects of life. Because people are not aware of the true meaning of the word feminism, there are many misconceptions that come with the word, but there are three that I feel are the most harmful to the movement.

For some reason, people think men who identify as feminist are against their own gender or less masculine. People take the “fem” prefix as a cue only women are allowed to be feminist, and if you are a guy it somehow makes you less manly, which is untrue. Feminism is not a war between the sexes. When a male is a feminist, it does not mean he thinks women are the dominant sex. It just means he advocates for equality, which is something I hope everyone would want.

Another misconception about feminism is that being feminist means you hate men. One word used to describe this misconception is “feminazi.” This is a term used to describe feminists who are seen as radical or who want superiority over men rather than equality. I am not denying there are people like this out there — because there are — but they are not the feminists they claim to be. Feminism is about equality — not only for women, but for men as well.

People also seem to believe feminism is only for women’s rights. This is not accurate at all, and I think this is why many people are so willing to view feminism negatively. Feminism is, in fact, a movement for all people’s rights. An example of how it encompasses all genders is how feminism is trying to bring light to the fact men can be and are sexually assaulted and harassed. Also, feminism helps to combat society’s stereotypical view of what being a man means. While it is true women have been at the forefront of the movement, it is actually a movement for all genders.

Feminism seeks to balance out the powers in the world so people of all genders are on a level playing field — something that has yet to happen. Feminism is not a dirty word that should be hushed every time it is said. It is not something that should be swept under the rug and forgotten. It is something that should be taken seriously. Men and women deserve equal opportunities to advance in this world and to make their mark. If you are for gender equality, then chances are you are a feminist, and it is something you should be proud of. So the next time someone starts condemning feminism, kindly remind them what it really means to be a feminist.

Lesley Reno is a freshman communication major from Renick, Mo.

This editorial originally appeared in the Feb. 25 issue of the Index.