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A Lesson in Feminism

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From my experience, the general consensus appears to be that feminism is man-hating. That feminists want nothing less than female supremacy over the men that have historically run this planet.

At this point, I would like to quote dictionary.com for you: “feminism: the doctrine advocating social, political and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”

Please, point out to me exactly where you find the goals of male oppression by female overlords. I can’t seem to locate them yet.

At this point in time, sexism exists. That fact is undeniable. Women are objectified and harassed online and in person because they’re attractive, because they’re not wearing makeup, because they’re transgender, because they choose not to walk around grinning happily all the time. Only a few weeks ago, Street Harassment Video posted a short to their YouTube channel, entitled “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman.” In this video, the woman (an actress wearing jeans and a simple crewneck t-shirt) is catcalled, told to smile, wished a nice day “pretty lady” or exclaimed at (something to the tune of “damn, girl!”) no less than thirty times, in two minutes. Too many women endure this objectification every day, and in subtler ways than this—the leak of celebrity nudes and their use by the general public is only one example. If a man’s private photos were leaked, it would be a tragedy, but people all over the world were completely okay with using a woman’s sexy selfies for less than G-rated purposes.

In September, actress Emma Watson inaugurated the HeForShe campaign, with the goal of ending gender inequality the stereotypical gender roles. She presented an impassioned speech to the UN, advocating women in politics, abortion rights and the freedom from sexualization. HeForShe was a call to action, so that everyone would become involved in the fight, because, as she put it, “gender equality is your issue too.” In the same vein, and in a recent interview, Daniel Radcliffe was asked how he about being labeled the unconventional male lead. He replied that “the male population had no problems sexualizing Emma Watson immediately.”

The aftermath of Elliot Rodgers’ UCSB massacre gave rise to a hashtag #YesAllWomen. As these things do, that gave rise to another, #NotAllMen. But where users seemed to disagree was in the necessity of the #NotAllMen hashtag. Many think that men don’t need advocacy because they have much more than women in terms of full equality. Women have a longer road ahead of them before they reach equality. But no, not all men. Not all men are like Elliot Rodgers, and not all men believe women exist purely to satisfy male sexual impulse. But yes, all women deserve the right to govern their own body, all women deserve the right to vote, to choose who to marry, to worship, to learn and think for themselves. These are basic human rights. However, in every country in the world, women lack one or more of these rights. Men deserve these rights no less than women, but they already have most. There is always a man who will cavalierly ask if you are on your period.

Unfortunately, there is a critical misconception of what it actually meant to be a feminist. Feminism has nothing to do with what one chooses to wear or who one loves. Feminism is the belief in, and advocacy for equality of the sexes. It is the belief that one can wear whatever they want and not be sexualized for it. It is the belief that all humans are created equal, not just all men. After Beyonce’s performance at the Video Music Awards this year, she was supported by some for her clear declaration of feminist beliefs, and torn down by others. Some believe she has no business calling herself a feminist while cavorting on stage in leotards. I say to those–of any gender–who judge actresses, politicians and others who are, daily, the victim of a relentless media hunt: you are the problem. You pass judgement on people you do not know for behaving in ways you personally find unattractive. You don’t know their motives or mental state and you are not stalked and speculated about by the media.

Inequality is a door, and we need to remove the door entirely. Feminism is the axe with which we can do that, because we cannot only put the door in storage in our basements or garages. We need to smash it, then burn it and mix the ashes into paint with which we coat our history books, so that we never repeat this mistake. Educate yourself, because this struggle needs to end. Celebrities should not have to “come out” as feminist. Politicians should not fear labeling themselves as feminist because they might lose votes, and girls should not have to worry about appearing “unattractively opinionated” for simply wanting equality. Boys should not be imprisoned by whatever the Axe commercials or the football coaches or the gossip magazines declare is manly. I am a girl who is proud to be a feminist and anyone who thinks I am unattractive for it, that I hate men, that I am too opinionated or simply on my period is welcome to come and have a chat.

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The student newspaper of Washington-Lee High School
A Lesson in Feminism