I’m a Loud Feminist and I’m Not Ashamed

Too often, the word “feminist” carries a negative connotation for many people. For some reason, “feminist” has become analogous with “a group of angry women who hate men” or “radical extremists.” However, these associations couldn’t be more wrong. 

A feminist is someone who supports equal rights for women and men in all facets of life. 

Notice how this definition doesn’t exclude men (or any gender for that matter), nor does it ignore or fight against the fair and equal rights of men. This is such an important distinction that so many people in our society fail to understand. As a woman, I am proud and honored to identify as a feminist, and it upsets me that, due to unfair stigma, so many women and men shy away from identifying as such. 

If you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you I’m not a confrontational or angry person. But, that doesn’t mean that if my human rights are infringed I won’t speak up. Because of such situations, I’ve become passionate about fighting for my rights, as well as speaking up for the rights of all women. As a supporter of intersectional feminism, I recognize and acknowledge that the struggles I may face will be different than those of my female peers who have different experiences and identities.

Now, you may ask, why is feminism so important to me? Well, for several reasons. I grew up with three brothers in a family that always supported me as their equal. However, as I got older and stepped into the real world, my intelligence, athleticism, and overall capabilities as a woman were constantly put into question. Coming back home to spend time with my family during this pandemic highlighted the stark difference between how my brothers treat me as a woman versus how others treat me.

One frustrating question I get over and over again is: “how are you going to manage being a doctor while also taking care of a family?” (quick shoutout to all the amazing men and women in the medical field helping us during this unsettling time). First off, having a job and a family should not be exclusive options for women. While I fully support and have the utmost respect for women who choose to be stay-at-home-mothers, I don’t believe it’s a fair assumption that this is the only position in life women are fit to hold. Moreover, it’s not only the woman’s responsibility to take care of her family. Starting a family is a decision that involves two individuals willing to work together to successfully raise children. This means the work should be divided instead of falling on one person. While the question above is a small microaggression in the grand scheme of what women are fighting against, it shows how such a common question is rife with traditional and unequal assumptions regarding gender roles. 

Some of the main problems feminists are fighting against right now pertain to reproductive rights, the gender wage gap (which sadly widens with differences in race), and the passing of an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (EDNA). In regards to reproductive rights, nearly ⅕ of maternal deaths were due to illegal abortions before the passing of Roe v Wade. Thus, taking away reproductive rights puts women in severe danger. As for the wage gap, white women earn only about 78 cents to a man’s dollar, a statistic that sadly drops to 54 cents for Latina or Hispanic women, making it unnecessarily hard for women to make a reasonable living. This statistic is even more concerning during this pandemic, as female nurses (who make up 91% total of all nurses) are consistently putting their lives on the line, but are still less economically valued than their male counterparts. And, lastly, an EDNA would prohibit job discrimination based on sexual or gender identity. As of right now there is a 26% gap in labour force participation between men and women, with women only having about 49% (compared to 75%) participation partly due to discrimination in the work force.

Reasons like the ones stated above are why I’m honored to be a part of such an amazing movement and to identify as a feminist. I’m proud to fight for women of all races, backgrounds, ethnicities, and identities. Together, we, as a whole, are getting closer and closer to breaking the molds that have held women back for centuries. Being a feminist means that I’m instantly connected to a community of strong, passionate people of all genders. It means that there is hope for a better life for all women, and I will never be ashamed of fighting for that.