Opinion: Why our Perception of Feminism Should Change

By: Grace Gu ’16
Section Editor

I am a feminist.

No, I don’t hate men, I don’t think men are evil, and I don’t think all men are rapists. But, what I do want is equality for all genders.

To many, the word ‘feminism’ entails females ruling over and punishing men. However, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

The concept of “feminists hate men” has been around since the late 1970’s. Women advocating to have the same rights as men have often been seen as people who hate men. However, these women are simply promoting their basic rights.

I started to experience gender-based stereotypes when I was in fourth grade, I felt hurt and confused for being called too aggressive and bossy because I wanted to compete for the position of class president. When I was in middle school, I began to hear how girls are supposed to dress and look as close to the models on the magazine covers as possible. I was shocked when some girls told me that they would rather be unhealthily thin and depressed than comfortable and happy. When I started taking computer science as a sophomore, and now being the only girl in my programming class, I realized that women in the tech field are extremely rare and even excluded sometimes.

Due to this newfound awareness, I decided I was a feminist. Many women choose to avoid being labeled as a feminist by remaining silent and accepting their socially defined roles. Even though I am fortunate enough to receive a great education, many women don’t and their roles are greatly limited to the domestic sphere. One third of the world’s girls are married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15. Along with marriage when they are still children and unequal education, women in the work fields also suffer from gender discrimination. Many who have the similar credentials as men, receive lower pays and have more difficulties in getting promoted to higher leadership positions merely because of their sex.

People often associate feminists with women. However, men are also victims under gender stereotypes. If men don’t have to take up responsibilities as breadwinners, more women can take on leadership roles. If men aren’t expected to be powerful enough to fit in, women don’t have to be submissive. If men aren’t mocked at for doing “girly” things such as caring for children and cooking, women won’t be confined to their domestic roles. Despite this, women face more discrimination in their rights. While men’s Viagra may be covered by their health insurance provided by their work, birth control is far less commonly covered. In addition, the control a woman has of her body in the instance of abortion is absurdly a constant debate in the news.

This discrimination gap cannot be ignored or pushed aside, and while there have been amazing developments in the world of women’s rights, there is still much to be done. The world needs feminism, not to degrade men in order to raise women up, but to create an even platform on which everyone can feel secure about their bodies and choices.