The Big F Word
Read carefully the following word and picture the first thing that comes to your mind once you’ve read it…
So, what did you think of?
Did you think of an angry, man-hating, bra burning female with hairy legs and armpits?
Or did you think of your average, everyday person who just wants equality between genders?
This is me.
I don’t hate men.
I don’t burn bras (do you know how expensive those things are!).
I do shave my armpits (although it’s perfectly fine if you choose not to).
And I believe in equality for everyone.
Why has this word lost its true meaning in the recent years, and why are people so embarrassed to say that they are a feminist? My goal is to help people understand the true meaning of feminism, why it still has meaning and importance for everyone today, and how we can get involved in spreading the awareness of the meaning of feminism.
So, what is feminism?
If you search feminism into google, you’ll see “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Feminism is not the belief that one gender should be raised in power above another, but is the complete opposite. It’s the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic and social equality.
People often say, “so if you’re a feminist, do you hate all men?”. That is not correct at all. Feminism started as a fight for equality and continues to be that same fight for equal rights and opportunities regardless of gender.
The media’s portrayal of feminism is often misrepresented with people feeling the need to actively declare their anti-feminism. In recent years, the hashtag #womenagainstfeminism has gained attention on social media with other women posting images of themselves holding signs that contain a negative portal of feminism.
Over the past few years, feminism is becoming more and more unpopular with women choosing to not identify themselves as feminists. A recent poll in America completed by Huffington Post, showed that only one-fifth of Americans identify themselves as feminists. Of that same poll, 82% of Americans believe that men and women should be equal. So it’s not the ideas of feminism that is the problem, but the word itself.
The word itself is not important. It’s the idea and ambition behind it. Not all women have the same freedom and rights that we do in the world today. Statistically, very few do.
Why is it still important today?
People think feminism is no longer an issue. Sure, in the 60s and 70s the feminist movement brought huge changes in the Australian society in the areas of health, work, law, education and welfare in the attempt to redress the imbalance between men’s and women’s power and opportunity. Some of the changes that look place in Australia in the last decades of the 20th Century included:
- Half-way houses and shelters for women escaping violence appeared in Sydney and Melbourne in 1974.
- In 1969, the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission ruled that women should receive equal pay for work of equal value.
- In 1986, the federal government put into legislation the Equal Opportunity Act.
- There was also a greater awareness of domestic violence in marriage which was previously seen as a private matter which police and courts had no interest it.
Women were no longer expected to follow only one path: to marry, start a family, and devote her life to homemaking.
Despite all these changes that have happened in society, we still have many social aspects that could be improved.
We recognise in society feminism is for the equality of both sexes and is not limited or restricted to a movement for females only. Gender equality is an issue that males can too experience. Research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Cause of Death Australia, 2015 data showed that there were a total of 3,027 death by suicide in 2015, and 2,292 of those deaths were males.
Males are less likely to speak up about mental illness in the fear that it will portray them as being less of a man. They are imprisoned by gender stereotypes to what they can do and how they must act.
In a global perspective, there are still many issues going on
- Baby girls are killed in societies where baby boys are considered more valuable
- Sexual harassment in employment exists
- Women are defined mostly by looks
- Child marriages is still common
The list goes on. Regardless of what people say, feminism is still an important issue and it’s meaning is still very relevant today.
Make your voice heard!
Gender equality is something that everyone should be concerned about. It is not limited or only for women, it involves everyone who is for equality.
I think there are two things that can help eliminate this negativity and reluctance surrounding feminism: education and visibility.
Many female celebrities have spoken out about their views on feminism helping to spread this true meaning.
One celebrity who has spoken about this issue is Emma Watson, the Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women in 2014. In her speech she spoke out about gender inequality aiming to get men and boys to join the feminist fight for gender equality.
You too can join the feminist movement, you don’t need to be a celebrity, you just need to believe that there should be gender equality amongst everyone. Help spread awareness of the true meaning of feminism by sharing the hashtag, #FeminismIsEquality and let your voice be heard.