The ‘F’ Word

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Mahima Dutt

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They are the ones that write long winded blog posts about going against society’s beliefs. They are the ones that will immediately comment on any Facebook status that directly conflicts with their own opinion or sounds misogynistic. They are the ones everyone is afraid of being or even mentioning. They are feminists. Many young girls shy away from the term feminist and would rather not consider themselves feminists partly due to the fact that the term has gained a negative connotation in society. The term is also widely misinterpreted and misused. Being a feminist does not mean you hate men or want to remove them from power. Being a feminist does not mean you believe women are superior than men and should hold power instead. According to the Feminist Majority Foundation, the true mission of feminists is simply to achieve social, political, and economic equality to men. However, recently feminists have received backlash because of widespread misinterpretations.

In an interview with TIME Magazine, actress Shailene Woodley was asked if she considered herself to be a feminist. She said, “No because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance.”  Woodley then continued to elaborate on the need for balance and how women should be working together and respecting each other to make change and progress. Her statement ironically matched the definition and goals of feminists. It also heavily exemplifies society’s misinterpreted views on feminism since celebrities are reinforcing the misconceptions. Consequently, a majority of people end up disliking “feminist values” yet the problem is they are misunderstanding them.

One of the reasons that feminism has gained a negative connotation is because of social media.  Some feminists get very passionate and riled up about their beliefs, especially on public social media networks where there are open forums and others who express similar beliefs. This often leads people to believe feminists are aggressive and they attack anyone who has a different opinion. “A lot of  women and girls tend to stick to social networking platforms like facebook, tumblr,twitter where they voice their feminists ideas yet some of the time, not all of the time, they end up just playing the victim card and generalizing all men as evil or to blame,”said Neil McClintick, a student at Cupertino High  School, “A lot of the time, feminists don’t think they’re doing it, and I doubt that is the message they want to send but I see it a lot on social media.”

Furthermore, feminists aim to encourage more women to speak up and hold positions in leadership. However, when women do assume leadership roles or positions in power, they are called “bossy”. According to Cosmopolitan, Sheryl Sandberg, the CIO of Facebook, said, “Bossy is just the beginning, a precursor to words like aggressive, shrill, or bitchy. Sadly, all these words are used to describe even our most accomplished women leaders.” (http://www.cosmopolitan.com/advice/work-money/sheryl-sandberg-ban-bossy) Similarly, sports play an important role in it shaping athletes’ views on feminism. “Soccer does reinforce my view on feminism because the coach sometimes tells us to take charge and in soccer everyone is basically expected to be bossy on the field to each other,” said Cooper Atkins, a female soccer player.

Although there is this stigma behind feminism, it’s slowly changing with the help of celebrities that aren’t afraid to label themselves as feminists and represent the true morals of feminism. Many celebrities actually propel the movement using their artwork and large audience or fanbase. For instance, Beyonce’s latest album  embraced feminism in one of her songs, which featured Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s TED talk “We Should All Be Feminists”.

 

Although some people argue feminists goals are not necessary or applicable today,the statistics of women’s pay in employment as well as the percentage of women in leadership show that there is still lots of room for improvement.

 

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The ‘F’ Word