Feminism: the advocacy of women’s right on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
I learned at a young age that it was important–no, vital–to treat people equally. No one can completely blind themselves to differences among humans (seeing as we are, in fact, human) but you can learn to embrace those differences and see beyond them. This is always what I have strived to do.
That being said, I never associated myself with feminism until fairly recently. I believed that women were just as capable as men, yet I took no verbal stance on the topic.
In my mind, feminism was a negative thing. All of the stereotypical connotations I had heard over the years became engrained in my head. Feminists were “overbearing.” They forced their views on others. And of course, “no guy would want to date a feminist.” (Ironic, right? I was turned off to the whole idea because of what men would think!)
It was around the time that I started college when things began to change. Being in an environment that fostered equality and rejected social norms encouraged me to reassess my values. It finally clicked for me one day when I overheard a conversation among classmates. It sounded something like this: “If you are a woman, then there’s no way you can’t be a feminist… Why wouldn’t you want to support yourself?”
That totally made sense to me. It is my duty, as a woman, to support women’s rights. You would think all females would think this way, but unfortunately they don’t. I’ve found that lots of women believe sexism is an outdated topic. Women can vote, they can drive, they can work… All the “big issues” are taken care of. So why are there still feminists in this day and age?
The truth is, the world needs feminism now more than ever. It is outrageous that in such a seemingly progressive world, there are still various forms of unjust treatment occurring daily.
For instance, women still earn less money than men do: even when adjusted for all education and professional credentials, there is a wage gap between men and women. Even more horrific, 1 in 5 American women has been sexually assaulted, according to the National Intimate Partner & Sexual Violence Survey. And shockingly, only 3% of rapists ever spend time in jail. These statistics have got to change.
Through becoming more involved with the feminist movement, I’ve realized just how closely the concept falls in line with my other interests–specifically veganism. The two go hand in hand, and one can’t claim one without the other.
Feminists support equal rights for all beings, especially those who are oppressed, regardless of gender. Personally, this was the final selling point of feminism. I have compassion for any mistreated groups of people because I know what it can feel like to be the victim. Feminism gives me an outlet to share stories, get inspired, and further embrace my passion for equality. At the most fundamental level, feminism is a movement against oppression and exploitation, and for just and compassionate treatment of beings–which extends to all humans and even animals.
How can you advocate that women should have full control over their bodies yet support an industry that forcibly impregnates other females and exploits their reproductive organs?
Conversely–how can you speak out against inhumane treatment to animals yet turn a blind eye to workplace violence or domestic abuse?
Standing up for a belief involves not just selectively embracing one part of that philosophy, but extending and applying it to other areas. Once you decide to devote yourself to an issue, you must assess all parts of your life to ensure you are supporting the cause however possible. No matter how you label it, a true promoter of equality should promote those standards within any context– human or not.
If you are looking for inspiration, check out some websites or blogs devoted to feminist movements and equality. One I especially like is WhoNeedsFeminism, formed by a group of girls from my home-state. They feature stories and images shared by anyone who is affected by feminism, male and female alike, showing the diverse face of feminism. Some may refuse to shave and burn their bras and cut their hair. Others might doll themselves up in lipstick and dresses and heels without a care. But appearance aside, they are all after the same thing: a chance for each being to receive the just as much respect as anyone else.
Anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, can and should support feminist ideas: but all vegans in particular should also identify as feminists, with pride.
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Photo: HeyPaulStudios via Flickr