This morning, I saw a post on Facebook that really bothered me (by now, I should know better than to be bothered by social media memes, I know...).
Generally, I have a problem being stereotyped and lumped into ANY category, and I have a problem with people thinking one type of personality/choice/action describes the sum of things. Social media is FULL of these types of generalizations and ignorant memes, and usually I can just scroll past with an eye-roll. But this one - well, it pissed me off. It annoys me that people create these images and they spread like wildfire, showering the world with misinformation and unrealistic, incorrect and negative connotations.
My issue is a lot deeper than a silly image. Here's the deal:
I'm a feminist. I am loud and proud and will fight for women's rights, any day of the week. Do I do so by carrying assault rifles? No. Do I do so by protesting in the nude? Nope. I live it by being the best I can be each and every day, in my relationships and in my career. I don't let gender limits define me. I don't play victim, but I don't victimize others, either.
But is that what it "means?" This "F" word that has gotten such a bad rap? I looked up a few definitions, just to be sure. Mirriam-Webster defines feminism as "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities; organized activity in support of women's rights." That makes perfect sense to me. So HOW did this word become associated with such negative connotations? WHY isn't every woman proud to declare herself a feminist? I don't understand... even Urban Dictionary gave the word a legitimate, sensible definition. So, why the hate?
I started digging around the internet and found the Facebook page for "Women Against Feminism." My gut reaction was to be appalled- but after visiting the page I can agree with many of the points these women are making. The page focuses more on the idea of "equalism," which to me IS the point of feminism. Many self-proclaimed equalists are claiming they want the separation to end. I get that. I agree. But after spending some time with their social media account, I couldn't help but feel that this movement could be causing much of the division. Many women feel shamed for their lifestyle choices- whether it be that she wishes to be the CEO of the company or she wishes to stay at home to raise her children. The worst part of this shaming comes from the fact that it is most often women shaming each other. This, to me, shaming isn't feminism. And it isn't equalism.
After searching for a little social clarity, I feel more torn and confused about it all. I believe women are equal. I believe men are equal. I believe people of both sexes are capable of being and doing whatever they put their hearts and minds to. I believe people can be born under one gender but identify with the other. I fiercely believe in each human being's right to choose to live his or her best and most true life, as long as that lifestyle is of no physical or emotional harm to others. Does that make me a feminist? An equalist?
Maybe it just makes me a believer.
What about you? Are you a self-proclaimed feminist? An equalist? What does it all mean to you?