The definition of feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,” yet according to a poll from the Washington Post in 2016, only 43% of women and 23% of men considered themselves to be a feminist. The definition of feminism gets misconstrued, but it’s so incredibly important that our society recognizes that feminism is equality. Everyone is affected by feminism, no matter your gender, race, sexuality, religion, etc., feminism has either affected your life in some way or will affect your life. If you think you aren’t a feminist I encourage you to read these 10 reasons why you should be one.
Gender roles are defined by “how we’re expected to act, speak, dress, groom, and conduct ourselves based upon our assigned sex”. Typically, women are put into the role of accommodating caretaker, while men are typically put into the role of aggressive breadwinner. These stereotypes can be incredibly harmful to an individuals’ health and can often hold individuals back from acting as they truly want. Gender roles can be considered anything from an expected character trait, behavior, career, or appearance. Everyone is affected by gender roles, yet if we were all feminists who agreed with equality of the sexes, individuals could live happier and more fulfilling lives, living how they please.
Men and emotions
Men are taught from birth that they are meant to be tough and emotionless. Men are made fun of or criticized when they show emotions or cry. This idea is incredibly harmful to their emotional health, as every human is meant to express their emotions. Feminism creates the idea that all genders are equal and hopefully one day feminism will form a society in which it’s acceptable for all people to be vulnerable and show emotion.
Men and sexual assault
I’ve personally never heard, read, or seen a conversation in which a man is comforted after being sexually assaulted. I’ve heard the comment “At least he got laid” too many times. Everyone. Can. Be. Sexually. Assaulted. This includes men. Many men don’t report being sexually assaulted, abused, or raped because of the stigma behind it. We need to raise awareness that men are experiencing the same trauma as women and help them through it.
Men and mental health
According to the NIH (National Institute of Mental Health), in 2016, 48.8% of women with a mental illness received treatment, whereas only 33.9% of men with a mental illness received treatment. There is a stigma behind men having a mental illness and also behind men seeking treatment. Being a feminist would mean supporting men and the struggles they go through that are often hidden from others.
Women in power
When a man is in power he is often viewed as capable, strong and intelligent. When a woman in in power she is often viewed as “a bitch”. Many women recieve a harsh response from the public when running for political office, because she is “bossy” or “too emotional” to hold any power. Qualified women are constantly being overlooked by employers and the public simply because of gratuitous stereotypes held against them. Feminism is literally equality of the sexes. Be a feminist and support these strong and intelligent women in power!
Rights to a woman’s body
Who owns the right to a woman’s body? This isn’t a trick question, I promise! The answer is…the woman. An individual’s body should not be controlled by anyone except for that individual. A severe lack of feminism in our society is creating the idea that other people are entitled to our bodies, especially the idea that men have the right to have a say in what a woman does to their body. I’m talking about pregnancy, birth control, abortion, anything you can think of. Society doesn’t care about what men do to their body, why do we care about what women do to theirs?
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, at least 25% of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC even found that in some studies, the percentage of women is as high as 85% in some cases. A large part of the reason why this happens is because of the lack of feminism in the workplace. Women don’t work for men’s sexual pleasure. They are there to work, so please just let them do their job without being sexually harassed.
Catcalling has become all too familiar to women. Catcalling can be anything from excessively staring at someone to sexually assaulting someone. According to a survey conducted by stopstreetharassment.org, over 99% of female respondents have experienced some form of street harassment. The survey is then broken up into specific interactions, with statistics like 75% of women in the survey having been followed by a stranger in public and 57% of women reporting being touched or grabbed by a stranger. Society doesn’t usually do this to men. Let that sink in.
Sexualization and objectification
Both women and men are being constantly sexualized and objectified. This is harmful to all people, regardless of gender. While men are also constantly objectified, women tend to be more critiqued than men. Women are being taught that their value comes primarily from their body and sexual worth. Kids are growing up with this mindset, and that’s not okay.
Think of a woman in your life
If none of the above reasons struck you as a good enough reason to be a feminist, I hope this one will. I want you to think of a woman in your life who you love, care about, or even just respect. It could be your mom, sister, daughter, cousin, boss, friend, aunt, grandmother, any woman you know. How do you feel knowing that person who you hold dear to you needs your feminist support and isn’t getting it? How do you feel thinking about the fact that she most likely will experience discrimination, fear, catcalling, disrespect, or even sexual assault? Picture that woman in your life being screamed at by men on the street, picture her being criticized by men in her workplace just because of her gender, picture her being told that she doesn’t have a right to her body, but some man in government does. Picture all of those things and tell me you’re still not a feminist.
I really encourage everyone to be a feminist, in order to spread equality and kindness to all. As a reminder, feminism should always be intersectional. Include all women in equality; black women, Asian women, Hispanic women, white women, gay women, straight women, trans women, women with disabilities, Muslim women, Latina women, large women, small women, poor women, rich women, etc. Literally…ALL women, no matter what.