When you hear the word “feminism,” what do you think? A lot of people see feminism as something negative, because they associate it with all of the extreme feminists out there. But that is not what feminism is. Feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. That’s it. Pretty simple, right? But today, so many people want to distance themselves from the word “feminism” because they only see the negatives, the extremes, the things that do not truly represent what feminism is. A feminist is not a woman who hates men or thinks that women are superior and deserve more than men. A feminist can be a man or a woman. A feminist can be old, young, rich, poor, smart, silly, really anyone who thinks that men and women deserve to be treated equally.

I will admit that I never used to think of myself as a feminist. I have advocated for gay marriage, educated others about human trafficking, and attempted to become as environmentally friendly as I can, but I never really embraced girl power. I feel like it is because I honestly did not completely know what the term represented. This semester has almost been a journey to discover the feminist in me. I first became interested in the subject in my HDFS 230 class this semester – “Diversity and Families.” We discussed feminism and why people do not like being called feminists, and it really puzzled me. The feminist movement has helped so many women and still affects us today. You know that thing called “voting?” Women can do that today because of the feminist movement, because of the feminists who fought for our rights as women back in the day. Feminism is helping- not hindering- but still women refuse to be called feminists.

It is a shame that feminism has received such a bad name. If we are not going to stand up for ourselves, then who will? There are people who still believe that women are inferior to men and that their place is in the home, not the office. The fact that these kinds of sexist ideals still exist today shows that despite our progress, the women’s rights movement still has a long way to go.

Recently UN Women has released an ad campaign that brings such issues to light in a pretty powerful way. They typed phrases into Google such as “women cannot” and “women need to” and used the most popular searches to show how much discrimination there is toward women today. It is so shocking, frustrating, and confusing to see the things that people have searched on Google, the things that people actually think today. I encourage you to take a look at their ad campaign, whether you are a woman or a man.

An image from the UN Women ad campaign

It is possible to achieve equal rights for both men and women as long as we step up and work together. So, let me ask you now, are YOU a feminist?

UN Women ad campaign: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2013/10/women-should-ads

~Heather Brody

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