What It Really Means to be a Feminist

feminism noun | fem·i·nism: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

Nowhere in that definition does it say feminists hate men, yet there’s this assumption that all feminists are man-haters and radicals. 

But that’s not the case.

Like all groups, sure, there are some extremists that hinder the efforts of true feminism, but those individuals make up such a small part of the cause.

Most feminists are ordinary people, men included, who fight for women’s equal treatment in society.

Last week, Her Campus National Writer Summer Ford wrote an article on collegiate feminists and just how normal feminism has become in today's day and age. 

I’ve always had the mindset of a modern-day feminist, but like so many others I shied away from the label because of its negative connotation. However, after seeing constructive feminism at work I felt ridiculous for thinking all feminists were extremists. I grew to admire the cause more than anything else and I realized how “pro-feminism” I’ve always been.

When I saw amazing, confident people standing up to sexism I was inspired and wanted nothing more than to join their cause.  

So I did.

I believe in feminism and I’m so glad I have a better understanding of what it truly is now.

Through this article I want to educate you the way I was educated by showing you everything I, as a feminist, stand for. I also want to disprove common misconceptions we have about the movement and its activists. Some misconceptions that I, too, believed at one point.

Being a feminist means I believe in certain things…

I believe girls should have the same opportunity for education as boys. Unfortunately, in many countries girls are pulled from school after elementary school while boys get to go on to recieve secondary educations. 

I believe women should accept their bodies as beautiful and that media should encourage that self-acceptance. There has been positive reform in the fashion and media industries already, but there's still work to be done. Let's just hope it continues.

I believe a woman who works the same job as a man should be paid the same. On average, a woman makes 78% of every dollar a man makes. 

And I believe sexism and sexual harassment aren’t things we should just learn to deal with. 

Sexism and sexual harassment are serious issues that both genders struggle with. Women can be sexist and women can also sexually harass men. I believe in ending these issues for both men and women. 

Now, there are countless stereotypes out there such as “Feminists don’t shave” or “They’re all lesbians."  

In hopes of debunking these myths I’ll let you in on some truths about me. I, as a feminist, do the following “normal” things:

I encourage men just as much as I encourage women. I’m not sexist. That would be super ironic because sexism is something every feminist wants to eliminate.

I'm not a super serious person. I can laugh about things. 

I shave my legs. Well, more so in the summer..

I have my girly-girl moments.

I’m not an angry person.

I’m not an extremist.

And I have had boyfriends…Sorry Dad. 

Of course, this list doesn’t speak for ALL feminists. I’m one, one of the many diverse feminists out there. But I’m also an ordinary girl who does ordinary girl things. I just want to be treated fairly and equally. 

Everyone does. That’s what the feminism movement is pushing for.