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Editorial: I’m Not a Feminist, But I Believe in Equal Rights

Why is a word synonymous with gender equality met with sneers and eye rolls? Our culture now likens feminism to “man-hating, bra-burning” women. As a result, generations of girls in this age feel insecure associating with feminism.

Emma Watson recently gave a speech to the UN that brought critical attention to the misunderstanding of modern feminism. She proclaimed that men and women alike are suffering from rigid gender classifications.  Her “He For She” program is a united effort to make a change because, as Watson says, “If not now, when?”

Watson’s speech inspired some celebrities like Taylor Swift to “come out” as feminists. Since when does asserting women’s rights become something to hide away? Since when does it require courage to “come out” and say, “Men and women are equal”? Although Swift’s intentions were legitimate, she revealed the ignorance (coming out) that has captivated popular culture. People are scared to identify with feminism simply because the meaning is misconceived.

Watson’s speech was received poorly among others who believed it pointed the finger at men for society’s gender equality issues. By doing this, Watson deepened the feeling of feminist intimidation of men. True, most men and women have no problems with gender equality, but, paradoxically, they cringe at “feminism.” They applaud the definition but shun the term.

When did feminism get this bad reputation? The original feminists are the reason girls can attend the same colleges and hope for the same careers as their male peers; those who fought for gender equality were women and men of courage and intelligence. But today’s culture has made this badge of honor a scarlet letter.

Feminism conjures the image of an abrasive, oversensitive, and whiny woman in this day and age. Men do not want to be associated with this idea of a feminist, and as a result, women are fearful of being cast under that label.

Girls must ask themselves how can they expect to earn a career and receive equal pay if they do not proudly believe in feminism. Boys must also ask themselves how they will conduct themselves in a forward thinking world if they deny one of the titles of equality.

Terminology is sending women back in time. We must not let it. If you are not a feminist, you do not believe in gender equality. That simply makes you a sexist. Now which title would you prefer?

Written by the Editorial Staff.



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