If you’re one of those people who say, “I believe in equality, but I’m not a feminist,” then this is for you. Let’s sit down and have a chat (through the screen, of course).
A quick look in the dictionary will tell you that feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes – though this definition has expanded to include LGBTQ+, race, class, and various other issues. The core value of feminism is, ultimately, equality. In application, it would mean equitable opportunities and rights for all.
Because feminism is so multi-dimensional, it is inclusive. In fact, there are many types of feminism, such as cultural, environmental, and multiracial feminism. Yes, this includes radicalised feminism too, which is probably where the man-hating, “I want more power than you” stereotype stems from. But like any movement, these feminists are a small part of the bigger picture. More interestingly, you will find that their radicalisation – much like any radicalisation – is formed at the roots of oppression and violence (in this instance, gender violence). All feminists don’t think alike – but the fundamental principle of equality stands true no matter what kind of feminist you ask.
Moreover, feminism doesn’t proclaim ‘sameness.’ If it did, this would suggest that men and women are the same in all facets of life, whether that be physically, biologically, or emotionally. However, feminists do not claim that women and men are the same, instead, they believe women and men need not be equal in physicality to warrant equal rights.
Generations of patriarchy have shaped our society and how we think. Therefore, it takes education and awareness to understand that there is something truly wrong in the way our societies run. That’s where feminism comes in.
So no, feminism isn’t about bashing men. It isn’t an exclusive, regulated group, like many feminist academics or scholars will have you believe. And yes, men can be feminists. Feminism is, in its true sense, a political and ethical movement that deals with a gamut of gender-based issues from the lack of representation of women in media to gender-based violence like rape. There’s probably a feminist issue that you care about. There’s probably a reason to call yourself a feminist – unabashedly, with pride.