I am a self-proclaimed feminist. However, I wasn’t always.
Feminism is something that I’ve learned to embrace over the past few years. For the longest time, I didn’t associate myself with that word. I used to look at people who called themselves feminist as overbearing and unnecessary with their constant need to put down men.
First of all, I was misinformed of what feminism meant. Feminism has nothing to do with putting men down. It’s simply the belief that men and women are equal.
As I watched the Women’s March against Trump, I realized that both women and men need to be informed on feminism. I saw, more than ever, Facebook rants about how women need to be thankful for the rights that they do have. I saw someone say that women in other countries are still being raped and enslaved, so women in the United States should just be thankful. Another girl said feminism is something she doesn’t want to associate herself with because she thought men and women were already equal. I don’t know what’s scarier, the fact that they were so ignorant or the fact that they were still my friends on Facebook.
It wasn’t until I saw a series of intolerances of women’s rights that I realized my inner feminist.
I learned about five years ago that for every dollar a male makes, a woman makes 80 cents. I remember a male co-worker bragging that he made more than I did. I went home clearly angered and asked my dad if it was true or if this guy was full of it. It was sad, but true. In most countries, women only earn between 60 and 75 percent of men’s wages for the same work, according to the news outlet Global Citizen. This was just the beginning of my epiphany.
Further realizations sparked in college when slut-shaming became an accepted part of our culture. I would have female friends looked down upon by other females for our hookup culture, while males were given slaps on the back. There are all these expectations from women to be a certain way in the media that has been socially acceptable for far too long. Women should smile more.
Women should be in the kitchen. Women should dress a certain way. An assertive woman who knows what she wants is a “bitch” while an assertive man is “confident.”
All the stereotypes — they made me sick to my stomach.
Suddenly, I went from being laidback about defining myself as a feminist to clinging onto it for dear life. It took some ugly situations and circumstances to realize how much more we have to fight as both women and men. Yes, another thing I’ve learned. Men can be feminists too.
The icing on my feminist cake was when Donald Trump was elected president even though he showed a blatant disrespect for marginalized groups, which includes women. So as I watched both men and women protesting his presidency by showing support for female rights, I was proud of the many people that stood up for what they believe in regardless of the political power Trump holds.
Feminism is more than just a word. It’s a sign of hope. I only hope that young boys and girls witness the sexism that we continue to see today, and have the same epiphany that I did. I hope those same boys and girls grow up to call themselves feminists too.
Email at Kavita Singh at firstname.lastname@example.org