There are so many strong women who have come before us: The Famous Five, Germaine Greer, Betty Freidan, Virginia Woolf, Naomi Wolf, Hilary Clinton, Tina Fey…just to name a few. Both the first and second wave of feminism has helped create such strong and powerful women. Their campaign for equal rights is something that we as women should be so thankful for. Feminism, during the first and second waves, was a powerful movement. Women were proud to participate and campaign for equal rights. They were proud to wear the badge of feminism.
It seems that today’s women are afraid to associate with this movement. Currently only one-fifth of the American public identifies as feminists. Women, of course, want equal rights for themselves. They don’t want to see themselves oppressed. They don’t want to be paid less because they are a woman or be denied their basic human rights. By definition, most women would probably be feminists. Although feminists equality may not effect every man, most men are probably feminists too. Yet there is still a fear of associating with the word feminist. Like Voldemort, we are afraid to say the word, that awful f-word. Perhaps they don’t connect with the word feminist. Perhaps they don’t know what it means.
Feminists have not always had a positive association. During the first-wave feminism was stereotyped as old unmarried women. Feminism was for women who didn’t have a child or husband to live for who were shaking up the status quo. This was not true, of course. The movement was primarily made up of middle-class white women, married and unmarried. Some now blame the second-wave of feminism for the current negative stereotype that still exists. The bra-burning, radical, man –hating stereotype was born.
This stereotype is such a hindrance to the current movement. Women now fear being associated with the word feminism because they don’t want to associate themselves with such a negative stereotype. Many people still believe that feminists are out to become superior to men, rather than equal, because of these negative stereotypes.
There are still many issues that haven’t been addressed and many stones unturned when it comes to feminism. Women still make approximately 20% less than men in the workplace. Women still do the majority of the housework. Feminists still have work to do. Can we achieve these goals if women don’t identify as feminists? Do we need an organized movement, and in extension title, to our movement? Yes. No changes have ever been made through a splintered and unorganized group of people. Think of the occupy movement. They were unorganized and without leadership and achieved almost nothing, other than making a small social statement. Feminism has large goals and they need organization and leadership. Women need to identify as feminists. They need to be proud to be feminists. To achieve any social change women need to connect and share their information and passion.
If you identify as a feminist you will not automatically transform into the negative stereotype. In fact, the more women who identify as feminists will help challenge that stereotype. As a feminist you will become part of a powerful line of women who were brave, daring and intelligent. Don’t be afraid to see the inequality in our society. Don’t be afraid to make a statement. Don’t be afraid to be a feminist.