The Bottom Line
Why Feminism Still Needs To Be Called..
Part of the word feminism’s value is in its history. It’s a word that acknowledges the past struggles of people who’ve fought, sometimes against truly horrendous opposition, for the same values, even if they didn’t use the same term. From proto-feminists through to the suffragettes, the Gloria Steinems and the people protecting Planned Parenthoods, it’s a word that wears its history prominently — and a great deal of that history needs to be celebrated, even if it’s complicated (which it often is). Remembering doesn’t mean that you agree with all of it, just that you know it’s there.
It’s also, frankly, the best word we’ve got. It is, in its purest form, about improving the status of women as a group in the world — and there is no way in which that struggle is even close to over. The UN estimates that increasing women’s participation in the workforce and giving them equal pay worldwide would raise the world economy’s value by $17 trillion. Yep. That’s trillions.
It may be seen by some as an “aggressive” term, but when you’re faced with situations like constant everyday misogynist bullying, a rape rate increase of 29 percent in the U.K. in the past year, 15 million girls worldwide being forced into marriage as children every year, and countless other bits of evidence that women are still second-class citizens, it’s necessary to be aggressive.
Feminism needs to acknowledge and give status to people who aren’t just white, middle-class, cis, and able-bodied, but at least we’re beginning to have that conversation openly. And, frankly, there’s no other word in the world that does what it does and encapsulates what it means — at least not yet. Long live the f-word.
Images: CarnivalGoldfish, airspin, SillyTees,MisandryOverMisogyny/Etsy; Charles Chusseau-Flaviens, Schlesinger Library at Harvard/Wikimedia Commons, American Humanist Association