A word thrown out as frequently as cat videos on Facebook, but far more controversial. Some use it with pride, others as a weapon; some view it as worse than the F-bomb. Different branches of feminism war with each other; Meninism has developed as a push-back; terms like “Feminazi” have become common use, and many women refuse to self-identify as feminists. Many view feminism as man-hating lesbians trying to flip the power dynamic.

Allow me to redefine feminism, returning to the root intentions of the movement, and its only sustainable future. It is not about raising women to equal or greater status than men; nor is it about bringing men down. It is about knocking down limiting ideas and stereotypes based upon physical traits. It is about equality for all individuals, regardless of what physical traits they have (whether they were born with those physical traits or chose them at a later point in their life). Equality regardless of what clothes are worn, traditions followed or denied, beliefs held or rejected, self-identity embraced or shed like a second skin.

Feminism is about teaching all children it is acceptable to cry when you are sad, not saying “men don’t cry” or telling girl’s they’re “too emotional.” More than just the crying issue, patriarchy stifles emotional well-being for all individuals. We are afraid of our emotion. Men are told not to express emotion (except for anger, in which case violence is an acceptable expression). Women are told they need to get over it, or it’s written off as PMS. Instead we need to be teaching all children how to identify, explore, and resolve emotions in a healthy way.

Feminism is about teaching everyone to be comfortable in their own skin, whatever that may look like. It’s about not judging people based upon how they choose to decorate their own body. If a woman wears short skirts and high heels, it isn’t inviting rape. If a guy wears nail polish and earrings it doesn’t mean he is worth less than a weight lifting hulk. If you don’t think women should wear pants, and you identify as a woman, don’t wear pants. If you think men can wear dresses, and you identify as a man, (and you feel like it on a given day) wear a dress. If you think tattoos, piercings, or other body modifications are wrong, don’t get your body modified. If you feel you must modify your body to be closer to who you are inside, feel free to modify your body until you are comfortable with it.

The real point of feminism has nothing to do with gender identity, physical gender, sexual orientation, or skin color. It has everything to do with being who you are, following your beliefs about what is acceptable for you, and realizing everyone else is free to do the same. Feminism is about every individual being equal in the eyes of the courts, governments, corporations, and every entity on Earth.

I am a feminist.


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