Why I Need Feminism and You Do Too

Rachel Healy, Campus Life Editor

Yes, I said that I need it–that crazy, vile, leftist ideology: feminism. Does that make me a man-hating, bra burner? I don’t think so. I think women should be able to vote–I think everyone should be able to vote! I think women and men should be paid equivalently for the same work. I also think that there shouldn’t be discrimination in the workplace based on gender identity or sex, which are very different things, mind you.

Now I know it sounds crazy, coming from a feminist, that I want equality across the sexes and genders. I want awareness that male and female aren’t the only two binaries we live with. While the majority of people are cisgendered (meaning that their assigned sex matches up with their gender identification), they still lie along a fluid spectrum of gender identity. In case you’re confused, the reason that I can burp, drink, and scream at my hockey team for a missed goal while still enjoying dressing up and wearing stilettos is because gender is a fluid performance that changes day to day. Just think about that for a second.

By this point, I expect that you have either Googled feminism or are shaking your head and denying my identification as a feminist. I am a feminist—let me assure you. But I am third-wave. We all are, actually. The feminism that everyone thinks about, the one with bra burning and man-hating, has no part in modern feminism. Modern third-wave feminism focuses on women’s equality to men, inclusiveness for diverse groups, the abolition of gender roles, and advocacy for trans* identities.

The patriarchy–yes, that old concept–affects all of us. A common argument is that if you’re a feminist, then why do you let men buy you drinks at the bar? Well, why don’t men cry at the end of  “Titanic” or the beginning of “Up”? We were taught to perform our gender roles, and this is an education that occurs daily. But how?

My favorite example from this week: “What do men think about your haircut?” Last week’s great read was titled: “Styles men hate”—because, you know, I dress for a man. But the reinforcement is there. There is consistent emphasis in our culture on how women should look, and this emphasis centers around the idea that women are objects to be constantly observed, judged, and assessed by men.

Here’s the thing: this culture affects men as well. Women shouldn’t act in a manner that disregards other people’s feelings—men should. Men shouldn’t cry, but women cry all the time. If a man ends a relationship, he should be out partying and sowing his oats, but a woman who ended a relationship should be at home crying with a pint of ice cream. Women shouldn’t enjoy action films, and men shouldn’t enjoy musicals. These are all binary distinctions that coincide with cultural constructions of gender identities. These are the constructions that third-wave feminism strives to tear down.

Now do you know why I need feminism? Because trans* persons shouldn’t be afraid to be themselves due to threat of violence. Because individuals who identify as women shouldn’t have to clutch their keys between their fingers when walking alone at night. Because it shouldn’t be the victim’s fault that he or she was assaulted. Because it shouldn’t be the victim’s responsibility to stop the assaulter. Because men do not report when they are raped because society tells men that they cannot be raped. Because men should be able to cry and express emotion. Because it is not a weakness to feel and show emotion, compassion, happiness, and fear.

I need feminism because I am a human and I demand and deserve equality, and so do you. 

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