Though thankfully these days feminism as a movement is alive and well, there seem to be a great deal of questions still floating around out there about what exactly is it, specifically and perhaps not surprisingly from men. So what exactly does it mean to be a feminist and should you reply with an affirmative “hell yeah!” when your boyfriend asks you if you are one?
Bluntly put, feminism is the belief that both sexes are equal. It doesn’t mean that you’re any less of a woman if you want to be a mom and housewife, nor does it signify that we’re about to gang up to throw boxes of maxi pads at any man or institution that doesn’t realize our inherent divinity as a sex and pay us far more than male employees.
It simply means that although women in many countries today have it far better than in our ancestors, we’ve had kind of a rough past and think it’s time to put all the sexist nonsense to rest. It doesn’t mean we think we’re better than guys as a sex, it means we think we’re equal and that it’s about damn time they start treating us like it.
‘The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.’ - Ayn Rand
‘Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.’ - Oprah Winfrey
‘The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.’ - Roseanne Barr
“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” - G.D. Anderson
"You know what? Bitches get stuff done." - Tina Fey
"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman." - Virginia Woolf
"I just love bossy women. I could be around the all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading." — Amy Poehler
"I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own." -Audre Lorde
“Feminism is not a dirty word. It does not mean you hate men, it does not mean you hate girls that have nice legs and a tan, and it does not mean you are a bitch or a dyke. It means you believe in equality.” ― Kate Nash
“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.” ― Rebecca West
‘I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story – I will.’ - Amy Schumer
‘Women have to harness their power – it’s absolutely true. It’s just learning not to take the first no. And if you can’t go straight ahead, you go around the corner.’ - Cher
‘Men still run the world; I’m not sure it’s going so well.’ - Sheryl Sandberg
‘I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard… we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.’ - Malala Yousafzai
"I think women are scared of feeling powerful and strong and brave sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. It’s not the absence of fear, it’s overcoming it and sometimes you just have to blast through and have faith." - Emma Watson
"I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfil my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life." - Hilary Clinton
As you can see above, feminism already has a past full of illustrious supporters and plenty more badass women are out there flying it’s flag as we speak. Although the mere word “feminism” may send chills down some men’s spines due to negative media connotations they may have ingrained over time, one of the easiest things to do as a feminist is to explain to such guys that they really have nothing to fear.
In fact, such men may even be feminists already, without realizing it. When they come to understand that all it’s really about is believing that their sisters, mothers, girlfriends, and so on are just as competent and deserving of respect as they are as men, pretty much any guy worth having around will readily agree.
Strange as it may sound to some, there are even some women out there who may hesitate to identify with the feminist movement for fear that it means they’ll have to deny their inherent femininity. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Feminism at its heart is about embracing who you are as a women, whether you be a badass biker chick or as girly as they come. It’s not about insisting that men and women should all go around sporting the same haircut or dressing in the same style of clothing. It’s about insisting that regardless of gender, or gender association for that matter, at the end of the day we are all human beings and deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect.
So the next time you meet someone who shys away from the term “feminist,” you may be surprised to learn that the best way to help win them over is simply to explain to them what it’s all about and that it’s not nearly as scary as they may have previously believed.