I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve heard the phrase “I am not a feminist’ out of the mouths of women. It’s absurd, because if anyone should be an advocate for women’s equality, it should be women! So then, I ask questions.
“But do you think women should be paid the same as men?” “Yes.”
“And do you think women should be credited for their achievements in the same way men are?” “Yes.”
“Then you are a feminist!” I say.
“But I don’t hate men!” they reply.
Hating men is not feminism. The belief that women are better than men is not feminism. Putting down men to raise up women is not feminism.
Feminism is the fight for equal rights and treatment for women, me, and everyone in between. Feminism is the belief that women deserve to be paid the same as men. It’s the belief that men and women are on equal footing and deserve to be treated as such.
Someone who believes that women are better than men is a misandrist, someone who practices misandry. Misandry is the opposite of misogyny, which is the belief that men are better than women, and those who practice it are called misogynists.
Feminists work to empower women and girls so that they feel safe in a male-dominated environment where misogyny often makes them feel unsafe. Feminism does not erase men, but it does say that they should respect women in the same way that women should respect men.
In addition, feminism preaches that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of gender, social class, nationality, race, skin color, age, sexual orientation, or anything else that might divide us if we let it.
For teenagers to not be feminists is dangerous. It guarantees that society will always run on the basis that women are overlooked in favor of men. Society will always be racist, rape culture will always exist, media will always Photoshop ads and stereotypes will always be perpetuated.
Women will never get the same treatment, the same pay, the same respect as men if our generation does not step up and make the change ourselves. Men will always be held to damaging social expectations that don’t necessarily define them.
The only way to do that is to identify ourselves as feminists who believe in equality. Feminism is for everybody.
Teenagers have a responsibility to educate those who came before us and those who will come after us. Our little siblings, our parents, our future kids. The change starts with us.
Radeeyah Karodia, Blog Manager