Updated: Apr 1
By Carol Queiroz
Image via NPR
Feminism is a principle: a value and belief many people carry with them for years. Feminism is a social and political movement that fights and screams for equality. Feminism is strong and loud and so incredibly powerful. Today, I label myself as a proud feminist. I openly express my support for gender equality and women's rights, never missing an opportunity to educate myself and others on the ideologies of feminism. My feminism is important to me, and it continues to grow each day as I make it a key part of my activism. However, it took me a while to feel proud and comfortable disclosing my support for feminism to others. For years, I heard the idea of feminism being brutally talked down upon. I would watch as people called women “feminists” in a way meant to degrade and insult. I saw our collective fear of walking alone at night, getting harassed on the street, or even going to a party being mocked and invalidated. I would watch as women I knew for expressing their feministic beliefs began to voice their opinions less and less out of fear of judgment. Eventually, they would steer away from the title completely, proclaiming that they were not feminists, but believed in gender equality. They stopped taking up space, and at this point, so did I.
There is an undeniable stigma surrounding the title “Feminist.” Negative stereotypes are constantly thrown your way, ranging from feminists are aggressive/angry, to all feminists share parallel political opinions, to feminists wanting to essentially be like men. The most common stereotype, in my experience, is the assumption that all feminists hate men and are fighting for women to have more privileges than all genders. This stereotype paints men and women to be on opposing sides, when in reality, hating men is not what feminism is about. When all of these untrue stereotypes are constantly surrounding being a feminist, it’s natural to want to avoid associating with feminism. However, it is important to rise above these stereotypes and remember what feminism really means. Feminists stand up against the inequalities women face such as the wage gap, unequal access to education, the pink tax, higher sexual assault cases, more domestic violence situations, and more. It fights for all genders to be seen as equal and to have equal opportunities politically, economically, personally, and socially. Feminism forms powerful communities of people advocating for a just world and opens a safe space for women to support each other.
No one, no matter gender, should have to feel ashamed of their feminism or feminist values. If anything, it is crucial to embrace it and take pride in it. We shouldn’t have to distance ourselves from femininity or hide our beliefs of gender equality because we are scared to be put down or laughed at. We should be raised to be proud feminists with confidence in our beliefs. Raised to support women and the fight for equal gender rights. I am a feminist, and I am proud.
Written by writer Carol Queiroz