Feminism | Posted by Emily Jane G on 07/13/2012

Silencing the Fear: Coming Out As A Feminist

In a day and age in which many people believe feminism is no longer needed or just outright misunderstand what feminism actually is, coming out and saying the words “I am a feminist” can be quite daunting. Doing so as a teenager is particularly intimidating. Considering that so many people our age believe stereotypes such as all feminists are lesbians who don’t shave their legs and burn their bras, it’s hardly surprising that many of us are reluctant to openly declare our belief in gender equality.

The truth is feminism is only a dirty word because many people don’t know what it actually is. It’s not hard to find out the truth, though. Even Wikipedia knows that “Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.” This movement is all about equality, yet many people are under the impression that it’s about a power struggle: that women want to be more powerful than men.

Once you truly understand what feminism is, it’s easier to justify calling yourself a feminist and to defend your decision to other people. Few people will disagree with the concept of equality, particularly when you can explain that feminism expands beyond gender, to fighting racism and homophobia amongst other things. The only people who will call you out on these beliefs are narrow-minded people, especially those in positions of privilege who enjoy their dominant positions and feel equality would constitute a personal loss of power. They represent the very reason why feminism is still needed.

Even if one understands what feminism is, though, there seems to be a misconception that if you call yourself a feminist, you  have to go shouting it from the rooftops, which can seem especially intimidating for some. In reality, this is not a part of calling yourself a feminist — in fact, pushing your feminist identity on everyone you meet probably contributes to the negative stigmas surrounding feminism. Instead, start your own feminist zine, write articles for feminist websites like this one, call out sexism when you see it. If it does come up in conversation, state you are a feminist and defy the negative stereotypes. Show people that a feminist can look any way she wants to, and that a feminist doesn’t even have to be a she, that feminism is inclusive of all genders.

Above all, it’s important to come out and say “Yes, I am a feminist!” because as long as the patriarchy enforces the idea that feminists are filled with hatred, we will never advance in our fight for equality. Recognize that any stigmas associated with labelling yourself as feminist come from a patriarchal society that doesn’t want to change the injustices feminism seeks to end.

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  • fed up with irrationality @ at 4:07 pm, July 17th, 2012

    Great post… I also think that even though most of the time people whom we call on wont change their views it is important to at least declare strongly that such nonsense is wrong or else it will be further deemed as normal. Also it is always fun to argue and annoy people who approve of and find humour in sexism ;-)

  • Amanda Anastasia @ at 8:36 pm, July 23rd, 2012

    Preach!

    I started this spread shirt site to combat the fear: http://femfistfeminist-shirts.spreadshirt.com/

    I rock the “FEMINIST” t-shirt on Fridays.

  • André @ at 7:23 am, August 4th, 2012

    First of, I agree that there is a heavy stigma put on feminism which makes it hard for some people to say that they identify themselves with the general ideas of the movement (f.e. equal rights and opportunities for women).

    But the real cause of this stigma is, in my opionion, the media, and not some form of conspirating patriarchy. Scandalous and bad news sell very good – good news? Not so much. Reporting on “feminists” pushing for legislature that bans men from urinating while standing because they supposedly parade their masculinity and oppress women by doing so sells a lot better than the headline “Paternity leave reinforced by law, traditional gender roles are taking a big hit”.

    There is unfortunately a vocal minority that gets all the media attention and contributes largely to the stereotype of feminism. The feminists that actually work towards equality and make genuine progress, on the other hand, get no air time.

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