Within twenty-four hours I had two separate conversations where feminism came up as a topic. I was quite proud to say I am a writer, and I said I am writing personal essays about love and life, relationships and sex, and equality and feminism.
Wait, are you a feminist?
In both conversations, it came out like a curse word. As if they were asking me, wait, are you kicking puppies for fun?
It made me think. First, what’s wrong with people? Why don’t they get basic notions and terms? How come that intelligent, educated men fail to understand what feminism is about. Then I started to think, whether there could be something wrong with feminism as a word or term.
The term feminism by definition means the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. It supports the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities in social, political or economic situations.
Feminism is about equality. It’s not about superiority and it’s crucial to understand that it is not about sameness. Many attacks the ideology of feminism on the basis that women are not the same as men. This is beyond the question. Men and women are not the same. They are different in terms of physical and biological attributes, different bodies, different hormonal setup, different physical capabilities. For one, women are able to have babies, men are not. Physically women are usually smaller and weaker, while men are bigger and stronger. Feminism is not claiming that women are the same as men. Feminism claims that despite the existing or perceived differences, both women and men are supposed to have equal access to opportunities.
However, the idea of sameness is used as a narrowminded excuse. If we strip equality from gender differences and just focus on an example of people being different, most would agree that just because one man is stronger and another is weaker, they both should have equal access to the same opportunities — the right to vote and to decide about their bodies, the right to earn the same wage, or treated in the same way