Feminism isn’t a dirty word

In the Dark Ages, when one whispered the “F” word, many people imagined women with buzz cuts and armpit hair, burning bras and spitting on every man who dared to walk by. Feminism was not — and in many cases, still isn’t — a word you wanted to say.

What’s feminism today? Although some still imagine women with poor hygiene picketing in front of men’s clothing stores, the picture in my head is completely different. Feminism, to me, is sticking the middle finger to gender roles. That doesn’t mean I grow out my leg hair because that’s what guys do — but if I want to, why the hell can’t I? When I say ‘screw gender roles,’ I don’t believe that men have to be breadwinners and women don’t have to be the homemakers.

The Dark Ages, when one whispered the “F” word… Photo from Demotix.com.

The picture in my head looks something like this: if a male wants to sew, bake and be a stay-at-home-dad, why the hell not? If a woman wants to work a blue-collar job and get her hands dirty, why the hell not? I don’t look down on women who choose to be housewives and stay-at-home moms. Feminism is about choice. Whether you want to be a CEO, a housewife (or househusband) or stay at home and pet your cats all day, that’s your choice.

I think men tend to forget that feminism benefits them as well as it does us. Feminism believes that men aren’t mindless savages who just can’t help but rape someone. Feminism believes women should be able to dress as scandalously as they want, because men can’t possibly be so stupid as to think a woman dressed sexily is an instant target. Men aren’t dumb. I hate when female victims of rape are blamed because of the way they dress. I hate when men say, “I couldn’t help myself, she seduced me with the way she was dressed.” Why men aren’t as offended by this as women are is beyond me.

Feminism isn’t about man-hating and blaming men for our problems. It’s about working with men to defeat the idea that one gender is less than the other. It’s hard for a society to grow when, in some cases, over half of their citizens aren’t allowed to grow as well.

In China, there’s a population crisis because of the slaughter of female infants. In many parts of China as well as India, it’s illegal for families to have more than one child. Because of this, couples tend to value male babies more than females because they can carry on the family name. This has caused a very uneven gender ratio. It amazes me that human beings are being treated so poorly and even killed just because of their genders. Female babies aren’t even given the chance to be valuable.

Feminism benefits everyone, not just women. If women aren’t given the opportunity to grow, the society in which they live slowly turns back the clock.