By: Shannon Shull
The great Maya Angelou once said, “I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.”
The definition of feminism:
1 : the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities
2 : organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests
In going by the true definition of feminism, I am proud to call myself a feminist. I definitely believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. Period. Like Maya Angelou, I, too, whole-heartedly believe that it would be stupid not to be on my own side.
But… and here comes the big BUT… today the word “feminist” has been skewed, distorted. People have taken the term and infused it with new meaning – and not in the best way…. Ladies and gentlemen, society needs to be reminded of the true definition of feminism and get back to the core, which is simply based on equality.
Beyoncé was quoted in British Vogue, hesitant to describe herself as a feminist, saying,
“That word can be very extreme. But I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself as anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.”
That was back in 2013. Now, Queen Bey is supposedly standing tall for equality, saying this past January,
“We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet.”
However, according to her 16-minute performance on the MTV VMA’s it may NEVER be a reality. Yea, thanks Beyoncé, nice try, but you’ve missed the mark TOTALLY…unless the official definition of feminism has changed to the belief that women should act as sexual objects, demeaning themselves publically.
Sure, the image of a beautiful, tough woman in front of huge, glowing letters that spell “FEMINIST” is a powerful and even empowering visual. But cut to the earlier visual of her and her half-naked dancers gyrating onstage to highly suggestive lyrics (all while her precious toddler girl is watching on) and well, that tough feminist image is disgustingly tainted and so way off the mark it’s mindboggling. I bet those incredible women from history who risked their lives to stand up for women’s rights are literally rolling in their graves!
Most women are hesitant to speak of feminism, fearful of how people will take it and if they’ll suffer a brutal backlash. That’s because the meaning of feminism has become so skewed. This public display of supposed “feminists” is confusing our generation and the generations to come, I’m afraid. Blogger Mollie Hemingway nails it with this piece, “Feminism or Sexism,” in which she states, “feminism right now is an incoherent mess of double standards.” (Also, here is a link to Hemingway’s interview on Fox News. Start at the 25-second mark.)
I agree. Quite frankly, according to pop culture, being a feminist seems to equate with being promiscuous. Ugh, it makes my stomach turn just typing it, but gosh does it seem true. What it comes down to is knowledge, and right now it seems that our society is lacking that knowledge. We all need to be educated! Not just us women, but men too. We need to educate ourselves on what feminism really means. We need to look back at the women and men of history who fought for equality and stood for the true definition of feminism.
Recently, actress Emma Watson made headlines with a UN speech. She stated,
“Feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists.”
It comes down to a fear of seeming unattractive and aggressive, even a man hater. She brings up some pretty crucial points on the issue.
I personally think she is a brave young lady and I applaud her. She has helped to get the conversation going and get people thinking. Unfortunately though, she is suffering the backlash of the ignorant people who choose to attack her. I believe, whether you agree with her or not, that she did not hurt the cause. Was her speech a game changer? I’m not sure. It may not be allowed to be because the media is too busy focusing on the drama instead of focusing on the positivity in her message and how it can empower everyone who is open to listen and take it in.
Freelance writer Clementine Ford brings up some very important points on the topic. She states,
“These are not facts that exist because men have thus far been “denied” entry into feminist debate and activism. They won’t disappear “naturally” when men are empowered to be sensitive. They exist because patriarchal power hinges on the subjugation of women, and anything that distracts from that is a liability to the cause.
I love that Emma Watson has bravely put herself on the line as a proud feminist. It’s wonderful that she may be instrumental in inspiring millions more to consider these issues. Bravo to her. But to be truly game changing, you have to actually change the game. And while it is important for men to choose to be allies, addressing actual systemic inequality through the funding of programs which empower and defend women’s sexual, economic and political rights is the only way to ensure women have a chance at winning.”
Wow. Yet another case of a writer nailing it, I think. Again, what it comes down to is education. And we should not stoop so low as to allow pop culture to define what it supposedly means to be a feminist. We have to truly educate ourselves so that as an individual seeking equal rights, we can empower ourselves to make our own decisions based on facts and truth, and wholly represent the meaning behind feminism.
It goes along with not being too quick to judge, which is an issue I’ve written about before. We must educate ourselves before we condemn or slam others. I will stand with Maya Angelou and say, yes, I choose to be on my own side. As an intelligent, strong woman, it would be silly not to. And I will back up that statement with an educated response, that I stand for, about what the true meaning of feminism is, which is simply the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. I urge you to take the time to check out my links and educate yourself on the issue. I know I am glad that I did.