These days, “Are you a feminist?” has become a loaded question. Where once I would’ve expected all women to say “yes” without hesitation, now most people dodge the question, claiming that the word “feminism” has become associated with too many unsavoury connotations. And even though feminism today clearly isn’t of the bra-burning, men-hating variety it once was, a lot of us have become far more self-conscious about associating ourselves with anything out of our comfort zone. I won’t get into the topic of feminist men, but strong, accomplished women vehemently denying being feminists always make me wonder what exactly has gone wrong.
So, am I a feminist? To answer that, let me rephrase the question. Do I want women to be treated fairly and equally and as a part of society on par with men? Yes. Then yes, I am a feminist. There are going to be ugly and/or extreme sides to any sort of grouping, but for me, that’s not a valid enough reason to disassociate with it completely. Don’t get me wrong – being a feminist doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to rally on the streets or take part in parades (although there’s nothing wrong with that). But just associating with it mentally has made me a lot more aware of the world, and of the small, innocuous ways in which it tends to work against women.
See, for me, feminism means the freedom to look the way I want without judgement, to wear as much or as little make-up as I want, or the clothes I want, without assumptions being made about my personality.
For me, feminism means the freedom to choose between a family and a career, to accept or reject either as I see fit without societal pressure.
For me, feminism means the freedom to decide whether or not I want to take my husband’s name after marriage.
For me, feminism means the freedom to walk down a street at night without fear.
For me, feminism means the freedom from being the representative of my gender, to be able to do something and fail without being held up as an example of why my gender was not “made” to do something.
For me, feminism means the freedom to support other women, to study, work and play in an environment where being on top doesn’t mean having to shove all other women out of the way.
For me, feminism means the freedom to have hobbies and interests regardless of my gender.
For me, feminism means the freedom from vocabulary that seeks to tear me down while condoning similar behaviour in men.
For me, feminism means the freedom from victim-shaming and victim-blaming.
For me, feminism means the freedom to experience negative emotions without them being attributed to PMS.
For me, feminism means the freedom to call myself a feminist and be taken seriously, without being branded as a man-hater.
So, in my opinion, at least, it shouldn’t be that difficult to answer the question, “Are you a feminist?” Because, really, what reason is there not to be?