The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

There it is; the actual dictionary definition of what feminism is. Why exactly is it then that there are there so many different interpretations and misconceptions about what it means?

Why is the word feminist so taboo? In a HuffPost/YouGov poll, a mere 20% of Americans identified themselves as feminists. However, the irony here is that 82% of the survey respondents agreed that “men and women should be social, political, and economical equals”. The poll also revealed that more people saw the word feminist in a negative way.

Photo Courtesy: Michelle Phan

To me, being a feminist is this:

1. Someone who chooses to acknowledge the equality and humanity of women.

There are so many predetermined stereotypes and gender roles prevalent in our society, that it can be difficult to against all the stimuli we are being inundated with. A feminist recognizes that these socially accepted norms are not what define us, and that we have the power to change them.

You’d be surprised by the sheer number of influential movies that do not pass the Bechdel Test. Colin Stokes had a great TED Talk on the subject called, “How movies teach manhood“.

Photo Courtesy: Imperfectly Poised

2. A person who wants there to be equality for both men and women, and is willing to say so proudly.

Let’s set the record straight: being a feminist is NOT synonymous with being a man-hating woman who doesn’t shave their legs. You won’t believe how many times I’ve heard this.

Right now, there is a serious lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) occupations, law, and many other proffesional fields. Although women make up half of the U.S. workforce, they only account for 24% of the STEM workforce.

Not only that, but millennial women are being paid $20,00 less per year than their male counterparts with the same education level.


To top it all off, there are very real, very relevant issues like GamerGate circulating. In case you are unfamiliar with what GamerGate is, it’s more than just a meme for video game enthusiasts.

GamerGate is a serious issue that is spurring the idea that it is somehow acceptable to harass women in the video game industry, not just that, but even necessary.

Any person who has spoken out about it has faced the wrath of the hackers who feel it is their duty to continue this movement.

But, they have gone to the extreme, even going as far as to successfully threaten women out of their own homes-one of the most prominent cases being that of female video game developer, Brianna Wu.

This snowballing social movement has come to the attention of more and more people as we have become aware that the consequences of their radical actions extend farther than just the video game community.

Here is an insightful article about a person’s first-hand account of the nastiness that followed aftering speaking up about GamerGate on Twitter. Also, Refinery29 has shed some light on its origins, who’s behind it, and how much leverage they have.

Oh, and another thing: Men can in fact be feminists. Some famous names include musician John Legend, actor Ryan Gosling, and the Dali Lama who once said, “I call myself a feminist. Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights?”


As part of UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson delivered a thoughtful speech summarizing many of the issues that HeForShe is aiming to overcome and explains why gender inequality matters for men too.

Of course, there is still much left up in the air about the distinction between feminism and supporting gender equality.

There’s also debate about whether a man can truly be a feminist or if GamerGate is more about media ethics than sexism, but most of it is up to opinion.

I’ve chosen to view this issue in this way because of an astounding amount of evidence and personal experience with sexism.

Being viewed as less competent or capable because of something as innate as gender is unacceptable. Since when is it alright for “feminine” or “girly” to be seen as derogatory or an insult? Or, that doing something “like a girl” should be associated with weak fragility?

This post wasn’t about trying to encourage everyone to become a feminist, each person should have their own choice about that. It is simply to bring awareness on the issues with gender inequality in our world today and clear up some of the fallacies about feminism.

In the end, for me it is about recognizing all people as equals-no matter their gender, race, social status, or any other thing we too often base our judgement on.

More Resources:

What Feminism Means, According To Kids | Hello Giggles

One Word – Episode 5: Feminism (Women) | WatchCut Video


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