What is a Feminist?

Estella Mosca

Image: http://womenscenterforcreativework.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/New-Feminism.jpg



Honestly, I’ve never really been aware of International Woman’s Day.

Luckily, this year it seems to be everywhere.

However, what a lot of people aren’t talking about though is this year’s theme, which is parity. But what does ‘parity’ even mean?

The Oxford English dictionary defines it as The state or condition of being equal, especially as regards status or pay.”

The key word in that statement is equal.

A word that seems to be tarnished when used in conjunction with feminism.

The idea that feminism is about angry women believing they are better than men is one that many still hold – a fact that astounds me. It’s not just one or two people either, but an opinion that seems to dominate the conversation every time the topic of feminism comes up (flatmate who I’m graciously keeping anonymous, I’m looking at you.)

But sure, if somebody hasn’t really read up about feminism recently then that opinion might stand, the hysterical woman flailing her arms and growing out her armpit hair was once/is often the one shown in the media.

So I’m here to clear up exactly what feminism, and being a feminist, is.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Ah look! There’s that word equality again.

Funny that, eh?

What a Feminist is:

  • Someone who believes men and women are equal.

What a Feminist isn’t:

  • A hysterical woman burning her bra and damning all men.

Maybe I’m being a little harsh, the idea of the hysterical woman did not come from thin air but from the ‘Second Wave’ of Feminism. (This is quite a long and detailed idea which I definitely recommend reading up on if you’re interested.)

And sure, some women will be ‘extreme’ (hence the long armpit hair and occasional bra burning) but there are extremists to basically any group of people ever.

Perhaps it is because I don’t align myself with the ‘extreme’ feminists that I am more sympathetic to the idea that the term ‘feminist’ should be replaced with something else. In light of the discussed bad rep and that ‘fem’ is in the word – suggesting that the movement is about women being better.

Honestly, though, I really don’t think the name is the biggest problem.

Feminist, humanist, equalist, call yourself what you like. There are so many other issues that we all, equally, need to face.

Even if you yourself don’t feel oppressed, there are countless problems that women across the world are faced with every single day. From genital mutilation, arranged marriages to the idea that catcalling is thought to be normal, sexism is still a major problem.

One which we can only face if we are united. Men, women, and anything in between. In saying you’re a feminist, you’re saying that you believe we’re all the same, no one better than another. Nothing scary, nothing burning – just that.