I’m pro-gender equality.

Feminism is the real f-word and I’m done with it.

Why? Because I’ve studied and loved language long enough to know that the definition of a word is fluid. It may start out meaning one thing, but it could end up evolving into something else entirely. Even though the dictionary definition of feminism indicates the belief in social equality of the genders and the movement surrounding this belief, that isn’t what it means to many people in practice.

It’s considered completely normal for me to drop the f-bomb in conversation. But casually mentioning that I’m a feminist in the course of conversation? I get less social stigma for self identifying as a LARPer or a pagan.

In language and usage, especially on the internet, perception equals reality. I notice when I declare myself a feminist, most people just make assumptions and tune out. When I say I’m interested in gender equality or equal opportunities for everyone, people seem more open-minded. 

This is due to a few common misconceptions about feminists:

  • All of them think they are better than men
  • As a straight, married woman, I do not fall into most people’s comfortable stereotype of a feminist
  • All feminists think the same on all issues

 

Additionally, there are some who self-identify as feminists who do think they are better than men. Plus, each wave of feminism has added to and altered the perception of feminists and the discussion of feminism. While this diversity of views is interesting, it doesn’t accurately capture what I wish to project: a belief in equal opportunities and responsibilities for everyone.

Even though I’m not supposed to say this, I’m going to. There are some things that concern me within the feminist movement currently:

The idea that a white man can’t understand and/or effectively promote gender equality because he has never been a woman. Bullshit. When I called upon friends and family members to contribute to this blog and its previous incarnation with the notion that it was about pro-woman/gender equal geek stuff, more than half of the volunteer contributors were men who saw a sincere need for gender equality in comic books, role-playing games, and the representation of gender in media. I’m not saying they deserve a medal or even a shout-out above what my female contributors or all-female editorial staff receive, but their contribution should not matter less simply because they are male.

Sure, it’s easier for a woman to understand inequity because in most places in the world, women and girls are still victims of inequality. That said, why turn away a sincere supporter? If the power and influence of men and/or the patriarchy are offered sincerely to assist, why not take it?

I am not a painter and I won’t have the same experience as my favorite artist, but I can still appreciate and support her work. I am not myself from Greece, but I can still enjoy and support the work of the Greek restaurant owner and the chefs he employs. Likewise, a man can be a supporter of gender equality. This movement will continue to happen with or without the support of men and it was founded and driven by women – but the fact that some men genuinely wish to support gender equality means it’s working!

The constant bickering about inclusion and exclusion of different types of people. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to believe that gender equality is for everyone. Some express that feminism doesn’t include all races or nationalities or that it’s focused on cisgender females – or that there’s no place for cisgendered individuals in the movement.

Who is including or excluding you from this movement? You decide who you are and what you want to be, not a movement or a patriarchy or an establishment. You deserve an equal shot. It doesn’t matter who you are. That’s the whole point.

The shift to ‘gender equality’ means you have to give men a break. Yes, women still inexperience more inequality. It makes you no less of a woman to recognize how a man feels or what he says concerning himself or gender. I’m not saying it should affect or define you in any specific way, but a man is a person, too, and in some instances, despite being female, you will have advantages over men. Let’s be better than the patriarchy has historically been; let’s use this power responsibly.

As the source of primary income in my household (which has occurred due to a combination of education, experience, and career opportunities for women), I need to realize that the skill sets traditionally held by men are valuable, but do not always make them employable. I also need to understand that I’m probably living in the last generation that can squeak by without a solid STEM education, and that the presence of women in these fields is still comparatively small.

Inequalities are constant, even though I have a pretty positive experience compared to most women in the world. There’s still a fight going on; there’s still a need to find that courage and speak up. Why is there so much in-fighting when there’s so much work to be done?

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