Why One Girl Is Proud to Call Herself a Feminist

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Say it loud and proud!

Why I'm Not Afraid to Call Myself a Feminist

In a recent conversation I had with a friend about women's issues, she was very hesitant to call herself a feminist despite both of us agreeing on said issues and working for, of all places, Women.com. She's not the only one who believes equality for all sexes is important, yet struggles to call themselves a feminist.

The Merriam-Webster definition of feminism is:

"The theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes."

In a recent survey by Refinery29 and CBS News, 54 percent of women aged 18 - 35 do not identify as feminist, yet 54 percent of those same women think of the Merriam-Webster definition when they hear the word "feminist".

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Feminist has become a dirty word. People tiptoe around its sharp edges. It must mean you're loud. It must mean you're shouty. It must mean you're aggressive. It must mean you hate men.

First of all, hating anybody because of their gender is not feminism. Pigeonholing people into stereotypes because of the choices they make isn't feminism either. A "loud" feminist is probably voicing their concerns over issues they care about, and as a feminist myself, I support them.

Feminism is just as much about the men who don't want to fit the stereotypical mold of masculinity as it is women who don't want to fit the mold of femininity. It's also equally about the women and men who do want to embrace aspects of femininity and masculinity, respectively.

I am a feminist because I believe we should encourage more women to become CEOs of their own companies, or make names for themselves in careers traditionally dominated by men. Or if they want to stay at home and take care of the kids and household, they're doing it because they choose to—not because it's what's expected.

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I am a feminist because I think women should be able to prioritize their sexual health and explore their sexual identity without fear of being slut-shamed or abused. I also want women to be able to come forward about their abusers and be taken seriously.

I'm a feminist because I want to be part of creating a world where my future daughter—and every little girl—can live her life without being harassed, or assaulted, or targeted because of the anatomy of her body; where her mind and soul will be valued equally to that of her male peers.

Yes, I generally advocate for women's equality, because women are statistically more likely to be abused in relationships, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed, and discriminated against based on their sex.

But I promise that's not the only reason I'm a feminist.

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I am also a feminist because men shouldn't have to feel like they can't show vulnerability. Because men have emotions, too. Men should be able to speak out against their abusers and rapists and be taken seriously, even when the abuse is perpetrated by a woman.

I'm also a feminist because if a man wants to be a stay-at-home dad and his wife wants to work and bring home the money, then they should be able to do that without people wondering why it isn't the other way around.

I'm also a feminist because I want to be part of creating a society where my future son—and all little boys—can make the decisions that he wants to make about his life and career, express himself, or explore his sexuality without worrying if it's "manly" enough.

I am a feminist because all the issues I've listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. We've come a long way, but there's so much more work to be done.

I know I'm not the only one who believes feminism is truly advocating for equal rights. I know because if I were, we wouldn't be as far along as we are today. So if you believe that feminism means equality, truly, then please don't be afraid to call yourself a feminist. I think it's time we reclaim the label. Please, wear it proudly.

I know I will.

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