Feminism is for Everyone

Regardless of the myths surrounding the feminist movement, we should all support gender equality

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of The Shakerite: Women’s Edition that was published virtually in May 2022. Due to a temporary change in the teacher adviser along with COVID-19 restrictions, The Shakerite decided to proceed with our print edition virtually. This is one of ten stories in the edition.

Throughout history, feminists like Sojourner Truth, Gloria Steinem and Malala Yousafzai have taken it upon themselves to make life more fair. While no simple task, when we recognize the need for change, and acknowledge the importance of feminism, equality becomes possible.

Feminism is a cause that benefits everyone, because it helps break down stereotypes across all genders. In the words of renowned activist Steinem, “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

Some feel that feminism is no longer necessary in modern times, that it only benefits women, or that feminists believe in women’s superiority over men. However, these people are gravely mistaken.

Anti-feminists claim that women in first-world countries have no right to complain about gender inequality. These anti-feminists don’t believe that discrimination against women exists anymore just because women have more rights than they once did, that feminism is no longer necessary in our modern society. 

As long as men dominate positions of power and use those positions to abuse women, there will be a need for feminism. 

As long as women are denied the right to bodily autonomy, there will be a need for feminism. 

As long as females are treated as weak and subordinate and as long as the patriarchy is alive and well, there will be a need for feminism.

Some believe that they can’t identify with the movement, because they feel only women can be feminists. Shaker Women’s Studies Club adviser Jamison Kolaczko said that people often assume that gender equality must be tied to being a woman, and they feel rejected by feminism if they are a different gender. “People are reluctant to consider themselves feminists because they feel excluded from the movement,” Kolaczko wrote in an email.

But in reality, feminists can be all genders and backgrounds as they strive to create a world of freedom and progress. Men can support change too, because equality is a battle that everyone has the right to participate in. 

Not only can men support feminism, they can reap the benefits of it as well. Men are harmed by gender stereotypes too, and feminism serves to debunk such stereotypes and eliminate toxic masculinity. 

Feminism benefits men because it challenges the idea that men must be tough, stoic, and aggressive in order to be considered masculine. Far from expressing hostility towards the male gender, feminists support an ideology that works to make the world a more equitable place for everyone- including men.

When people believe that women are no longer disadvantaged in society, it is easy for them to make the assumption that feminists must be fighting for female superiority. Kolaczko thinks this is a frequent misconception about feminism. “Women are fighting for equality- fighting for their rights, fighting for equal pay, fighting for representation, fighting for opportunities- and so it may seem to some that feminists are putting women above men. That couldn’t be more wrong though. Feminists are just looking to secure rights that women have been denied,” Kolaczko wrote.

According to medium.com, “True feminists endorse human rights for all gender identities on the basis that everyone deserves to be treated equally.” If people truly support universal gender equality, there is no reason to shun feminism. Equality is a cause that everyone should stand for.

Yet there are still those who are under the impression that feminism is rooted in a victim complex. Some just don’t understand why feminists would insist they are fighting for equality when women can vote, have equal access to education and are largely considered equal members of the community. 

While it is true that women’s rights have made significant progress, women still have to fight for equality. Yes, women now have access to more jobs than ever before, but they still earn an average of just 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. Yes, women are now legally allowed to dress how they want, but most still face harassment, regardless of what they wear. Yes, things have come a long way since women were forbidden to vote and were considered property, but there is still work to be done. 

And when people buy into faulty notions about feminists and their intentions, it makes them turn away from feminism, when instead they could be joining the fight to end gender inequality. Kolaczko said that all feminists should be recognized for their contributions, regardless of who they are. “There are so many powerful and amazing feminists who have lifted their voices and advocated for positive change, and they all deserve to be honored. I am thankful for them– for their courage and for their dedication to fighting for equality for all people, no matter their gender.” 

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