Why do People Not Call Themselves Feminists Anymore?

I was always taught to be proud of the word feminist, and why shouldn’t you be? It’s not a woman’s only fight, and in my heart, I believe everyone should be a feminist and wear it on their metaphorical sleeve. But in recent years there has been a new wave of women, who aren’t interested in using the title, and honestly, my first reaction was disgrace. Why wouldn’t you want to wear the title that so many people fought for your right to be?

People in the western world often forget that the fight for feminism isn’t over, as most countries have achieved some sort of female protection laws that ensure pay is equal and they feel secure in their position in the workplace and society. Because if a woman can be the prime minister and run for presidency – this must mean they are equal, right? Well, no.

I think this quote by Audre Lorde sums this up really nicely:

I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

Maybe the western world has improved significantly from the times where women were the property of their husbands, but the fight is still not over in other parts of the world. In Saudi Arabia, a woman isn’t even allowed to drive a car. In Egypt, there is are no acceptable grounds for a woman to have an abortion. Where you may not personally feel the benefits of feminism on yourself, other people are fighting for their lives to have some sort of normality.

Another hurdle is that people don’t believe feminism represents them. This is sometimes based on the stereotyping of women – those who don’t wear makeup, shave or like boys can feel excluded. People think feminists are raging lesbians that are attempting to wipe out men and have women as all facets of society. And people don’t want to be associated with those traits.

And there are the people who feel threatened that equal rights are deserved between men and women, but think that the production of these opportunities means taking them away from men. But I pose you this question – how many corporate bosses do you know who are female, how many headteachers do you know that are female? If we’re looking at politics, 2/3 of MP’s in the House of Commons are currently male, and as its supposed to represent a microcosm of society, this number should be 50/50.

The definition of feminism is as follows:

The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”

This doesn’t mean one sex is superior than the other but advocates equalling the playing field. A feminist also doesn’t have to be a woman or look like anything other than a regular person. It’s not about giving women jobs even if they are unqualified, but its equally about making jobs available to women that previously would’ve been filled by men.

It’s not ‘gay’ to be a feminist, and equally its not just a woman’s fight to be had. The more people that stand up for humans to have equality in life, is another big F*** you at societies’ patriarchal structure that are systems to benefit men and put men in the highest roles.  

Nowadays there is such a taboo behind the word, that people aren’t willing to describe themselves as feminists, and that’s because people think feminists are fighting  a battle that they’ve already won. You have the vote now, you have equal pay, what more do you genuinely want?

The battle for feminism won’t be over until there are significant representation of women in power, every woman has access to universal healthcare including abortion, and every woman has the same opportunities in life to achieve their goals. It’ll be over when women have control over their own bodies, when their lives are more than making babies and keeping the household running, when every woman has human rights and cannot be told what to do, and can go for walks at night without the internal fear that what they are dressed in could result in them getting attacked.

A girl can only hope.

Published by Heather Dalgleish

21-year-old journalism student. Author and illustrator for In Full Bloom Magazine

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