According to The Oxford English Dictionary, a feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.” But, what do you think of when you imagine a feminist? Do you think of a woman with short hair, who doesn’t shave her legs or armpits, hates wearing make-up, and believes women are better than men?
What do you think of when you imagine a feminist? Do you think of a woman with long hair to the middle of her back, who always wears eyeliner, loves lace and dresses, hates hairy legs, enjoys scrapbooking, and is happily planning every little detail of her wedding? Do any of those facts make me less of a feminist? Because that’s only one side of me. I also have a Bachelor’s degree in writing, graduated with honors, enjoy reading classical literature, attend theatre productions as often as possible, and refuse to ever think of myself as being worth less or more than a man.
I think what makes me a feminist is that first and foremost I believe women should have all of the same rights and opportunities as men. Women should have the same pay for working the same job. Women should be able to make the decision for themselves whether or not they want to shave, cut their hair, dress a certain way, or watch reality TV shows, without worrying about being judged as not feminist. They should be allowed to choose to have children or not, or work full-time and throw themselves into their career, or become a stay-at-home mom. It doesn’t matter what your career path is, or if you sacrifice it all for your children. All of these traits could make up a feminist.
It doesn’t count against you if you don’t fit some preconceived stereotype of what a feminist should be.
Some “feminists” are supporting the “Free the Nipple” campaign. These people believe women should be allowed to walk around in public topless so women’s and men’s bodies are treated equally. However, where in the definition above does it say anything about appearance or physical traits? Don’t women lust over shirtless men just as men do the same to women? Some people may consider it a double standard for men to be allowed to go shirtless in public, while it is considered indecent for women to do the same. Instead of fighting for the same right, why not fight for the law to be changed so that neither gender can take their shirt off in public? The “Free the Nipple” movement is not empowering women at all; it does the opposite. Choosing to expose your breasts in public does not make you a feminist. It means you don’t respect yourself or your body enough to act morally.
Feminists believe in not exploiting the female body or looking at women as merely sexual objects. Feminists believe that women are people and should be treated as humans with thoughts and feelings, not as if they are something for men to gawk at and lust over. Women do not exist simply for men to enjoy.
Feminists think women can be beautiful with or without make-up because it is the woman’s choice and she is doing it for herself, not for you. If a woman feels more confident while wearing make-up and thinks she looks pretty, then good for her. There’s nothing wrong with confidence.
Feminists know that women have the right to make their own decisions because they are just as intelligent and capable as men.
Feminists believe women can get married and not be anything less than they were before because marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship.
Feminists believe women have the right to say no if they don’t want to have sex and that their decision should always be respected, no matter what the circumstances are.
Feminists can be pro-life or pro-choice. It is a personal decision which has nothing to do with equal rights or women being treated as less than men. It’s an opinion, not an absolute.
Feminists think both long hair and short hair can be gorgeous on women. Desiring long hair does not make a woman less of a person or anti-feminist, just as having short hair does not make a woman automatically a feminist. Whatever makes a woman feel good about herself and the way she looks is fine. The length of a woman’s hair does not determine how she sees the world and therefore should not determine how the world sees her.
Feminists believe women can graduate from college, get a master’s degree, or a PHD, in any field they choose. Feminists believe women are intelligent and can have successful careers. They think women can be lawyers, writers, moms, doctors, photographers, bakers, artists, and actresses, with no disrespect or judgment for their decision. Feminists also think women have the right to decide what they want to do with their lives.
Feminists believe that women can achieve, inspire, and accomplish just as much as men. Feminists believe that although our society has come a long way, the fight for equal rights is not over.