Throughout my time as a student at the University of Michigan studying a minor called Community Action and Social Change through the School of Social Work, I’ve had the opportunity to take classes focusing on feminism, women's studies, and social change. I’ve been looked down on for calling myself a feminist, and I have been told that this “F-word” is a dirty word.
I’m lucky to have friends who are fellow feminists, and we can sometimes hear crazy things. Here’s a few of them:
1. “Why are you even a feminist? Men and women are equal now.”
Yeah, no. Not really. Just because we can vote doesn’t mean we’re equal. We make less than men on average (for working the same jobs), and we are very underrepresented in politics, government, and all lawmaking (have you seen our current government?).
2. “Not all men are bad.”
Yes, you’re correct. I know a lot of very great men! Feminism is not focused on hating men. The movement is about working to debunk the obstacles standing in the way for women to be seen as equals. Despite a lot of men being wonderful human beings, men are still seen as superior to women in society. That is what feminism works to change. P.S. Plenty of men identify as feminists as well!
3. “So are you a lesbian?”
Firstly, why would it make a difference if I was? Secondly, no, actually, I’m straight. I just like having equal rights! That doesn’t define my sexual orientation surprisingly enough.
4. “What about reverse sexism?”
Nope! That doesn’t exist. Please don’t use this as a talking point, because it just doesn’t add up.
5. “Why are you offended? Catcalling is just a compliment!”
I’m offended because no one told you to smile when you walked down the street today. No one pulled their car over to the side of the road to whistle at you and your friends. I’m offended because I should have the ability to walk to and from work without being worried about being harassed by strangers. Women don’t require a man’s opinion on their appearance to feel validated, so unless we’re on a date, keep your “compliments” to yourself.
Feminism is a movement that focuses on the equality of all genders in society. The feminist movement began a long time ago, and it is far from being complete. Going into the field of social work, I hope to fight for equality of all identities, and I will always be proud to call myself a feminist.