Musing: What Feminism Means to Me

We’re trying something a little new: instead of the roundup, we’re starting a series of personal essays that we’ll release on Fridays. Let us know what you think!

After this month’s #howtospotafeminist Twitter debacle, it became very clear that there are still misconceptions about what feminism actually means. Call me naive, but I didn’t know there was such tension around it. That’s why I wanted to dig in to what feminism is, and what it’s not.

Lots of people seem to think feminism is a cult of man-hating, also known as misandry. I’m debunking that myth: no legitimate feminist is a misandrist – you can’t expect to be treated equally regardless of your gender and simultaneously hate someone else for theirs.

By definition, feminism is simply the idea that women are socially, politically, intellectually and economically equal to men.

For me, feminism is all about acceptance.

We feminists are accepting that we are gendered. We’re also accepting that no one should be discriminated against because of gender, and we’re deciding to speak up and say so. That’s it.

For some reason, this particular f-word gets a particularly bad rap. With one pro-feminist tweet, you’ll see what I mean. And while I know that response is common, I don’t really understand why.

The feminists I know are generous, open-hearted, and spirited. They’re respectful, intellectually curious, and genuine. They’re good people, regardless of their gender.

beyonce-feminist

They are the opposite of the stereotypes that feminists are ugly, weak and brutish. In my experience, the gulf between the connotations and reality of the word is vast and nearly impossible to navigate. If feminism is going to be accepted as both valuable and necessary, I don’t think we can afford to let it stay that way.

who-needs-feminism-tumblrHere at BYOM, we believe in the power of personal narratives to alter the course of larger narratives.

That’s why we thought that it might be time to redefine feminism in our own words (like the Who Needs Feminism tumblr). Maybe if people begin to see how and why we define feminism, they will reconsider their definition, too. I’ll go first.

How do you define feminism? Do you feel comfortable publicly identifying as a feminist? Do you think that young people have a different interpretation of feminism? If these ideas resonate with you, please share your perspectives in the comments section, or share this with your friends.

(It goes without saying, but no misogyny, misandry, or hate speech. We’re a healthy community, interested only in real discussion.)

+ We’d Love to talk more about this with you. Share your definition of feminism (or your favorite feminist voices) below! We can’t wait to hear what you think.
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