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High-School Student Writes, Why "Feminism is Not a Dirty Word"

Young Feminists

Feminism is Not a Dirty Word

By: Ashika Kumar

Feminism, what is used as a transpiring, powerful movement, is rapidly becoming a misinterpreted phrase. I was one of the millions of people who participated in The Global Women’s March. The March left me feeling hopeful about democracy and the future of women’s rights. I had never felt more powerful and proud to be a woman. The next day after the March, I told two separate people, one male and one female, that I went to the feminist March. They looked at me baffled as if I said a dirty word! As a woman who prides herself on being a young feminist, I was appalled at how in 2017, men and women are still uncomfortable with the word ‘feminism.' There are many negative assumptions about feminism and it is time to shut down those assumptions and give a description on what feminism is.

According to Merriam-Webster, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Equality of all sexes, that is the foundation of feminism. Feminists do not think that we are better than men. What we do think is that we need to have the same treatment as men. We want the same treatment when it comes to job opportunities, equal pay, and to not have our government intervene with our bodies and personal choices. Apparently every time I say I am a feminist, I am suddenly a woman who is cold, too aggressive, and man-hating. I can’t speak for all feminists, but I have never met a feminist who hates all men. All we want is for women to have the same respect and human decency our society gives to men. If you believe that everyone should be equal no matter what race, religion, or gender, then you are a feminist.

I was on Twitter the other day and found an anti-feminist page run by -- women! I didn’t understand how women could not be feminists! Do women not want equal pay? Or just be equal? I was curious to see how many people, especially women, were against feminism. Turns out there are quite a few. There were men and women bashing feminism on Twitter and I couldn’t comprehend why.

So, here is my question to anti-feminists. Say if you were a parent, do you not want your daughter to have equal rights? Imagine if your daughter wanted a job, she is qualified, but didn’t get it solely based on her being female. How would you feel, that your daughter didn’t get an opportunity just because of her gender? Your daughter wouldn’t understand why her gender should determine if she should get hired. That is the future feminists are trying to avoid. We want future women to get the jobs and other opportunities if they are rightly qualified. We do not want future women to be denied opportunities based on a factor they cannot control -- their gender. So for the anti-feminist, I ask you: If that scenario happened to your daughter, are you going to say that it’s ok, that’s just society? If you feel as unsettled as I did with that statement, it means you are a feminist.

Feminism is still crucial. Our government is deciding on women’s reproductive rights and equal pay. Eighty percent of our government is represented by men. Therefore, men are having the biggest say in all matters -- even those they have no experience in, for example reproductive rights. Only 20 out of 100 legislators are female, which means that 51 percent of Americans -- women -- are underrepresented. This is absurd! We’re supposed to be the greatest democracy in the world. Without feminists in our government, giving women a representative democracy, young girls will continue to grow up with a limited view on what they can achieve. This is unacceptable. We need women to be active in all fields, so the women of tomorrow can get equal jobs and opportunities. So I ask you again, do you still consider feminism a dirty word?