What Feminism Means to Me

When you hear the word “feminism,” what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it equality or inequality? How about wage gaps?

Even though feminism is something different for everyone, in society today the word “feminism” or “feminist” unfortunately has a negative connotation.

The awful term “feminazi” is thrown around too often and too lightly. Many see feminists as men haters and talked about as if their sole mission is to take down the opposite sex. Now, feminism is different to everyone.

To some, it’s about fixing statistical issues like inequalities in terms of pay and wage gaps. To others, it’s about double standards and social adversities about how men and women are treated differently.

In this article, I will discuss what feminism means to me. Not to rave about how my opinion is superior, but to shed light on another aspect of what it’s like to be a feminist.  

In my junior year of high school, I began finding an interest and passion in the world of women.

I joined my high school's feminist club and quickly became the editor. So many of my peers looked down on the club, thinking we met every Wednesday morning to talk about how all men suck and that females are better.

They couldn’t have been more wrong.

In this club, we discussed how other women live across the world and the different rights we have in America that other women don’t have in other countries. We also discussed women’s education, work-life, and personal lives in other places.

We often wrote anonymous compliments to each other and ended the meetings with telling our personal goals for the week.

Through this club, I met many powerful and inspiring women, one being Ilhan Omar. Ilhan is a Somali-American politician serving the U.S. in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district.

I also attended my first women’s march and felt so welcome, comfortable and empowered around so many strong women. Being a part of this club ignited a blazing fire within me, and I loved discovering this part of myself. 

Wage gaps and social inequalities are, of course, very crucial issues in the world of feminism, and by no means am I trying to dull down their importance, but they aren’t the reason I am passionate about being a feminist.

To me, feminism is more about women experiencing life together than women experiencing life with men.  

Support 

Having support from other women  is something I believe to be one of the most imperative aspects of feminism.

There are so many issues we are all fighting together, but if we aren’t supporting each other, it’s as if we are fighting them separately.

Being a feminist should be about supporting other girls' decisions, whether it be what they do with their body, life and appearance so long as it is safe, responsible and not hurting anyone else.

Too often girls are judgmental toward each other, or even mean because they see each other as a threat.

Some of my favorite sayings about this are, “Learn how to admire her beauty without doubting your own” and “Twinkle lights are pretty, but so are flowers, and they look nothing alike.”

I try to live by those as much as I can, as I believe girls shouldn’t be each other's competition, but each other's support system.  

Sharing your story 

I believe that women sharing their stories with one another is useful in many ways.

If someone has gone through something horrible and if they are able and comfortable telling their story, I think that can be equally beneficial for the person telling the story and the person hearing it.

The person who has shared their story is getting a weight off their chest, finding trust in the listener and now has a chance to reflect on their feelings.

The listener can benefit from offering emotional support, learning from others and from realizing they aren’t alone.

It doesn’t have to be with just the bad stuff, learning from other women’s success is a tool we have that we need to use effectively.

There are so many events and organizations, especially here in Gainesville and at UF, that showcase successful and powerful women who share their stories that can inspire and teach others.  

Empowerment 

All these different aspects of feminism create (to me) the most important part of feminism: empowerment.

Empowerment is all about embracing and loving every part of yourself, even the things you don’t like that you want to change.

You must accept who you are, work toward who you want to be and empower others to do the same. I've always wanted to love myself for who I was, inside and out.

It’s still a journey for me that I’m not really where I want to be yet, but empowerment through feminism has helped me so much.

Knowing that I am a beautiful and worthy woman, surrounded by other beautiful and worthy women, makes me feel so empowered. 

To me, being a feminist is all about supporting other women, empowering them and myself and sharing my stories with others to help both of us.

I believe feminism has been seen as this awful and negative system when at its root it's about something positive.

As a feminist, I strive to support other women and push them to be the best versions of themselves.

I desire to listen and hear them, help them when they need, and be on this journey together.

I hope to learn from the women before me and teach the women who are younger than me, that are walking their way through life.

I aspire to love myself no matter what my body looks like, and I want to learn to love myself despite my mistakes. Feminism has taught me that being a woman is one of my favorite parts about myself, and no one can take that away from me.