46°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The New F-Word

There is a new F-word going around. It’s not the familiar cuss word, but it might as well be. The population lives in fear of feminists. In our culture, there is a general trepidation surrounding the feminist movement, and even the word itself. The question has gone from whether men can be feminists to whether women can be feminists, which is ridiculous, because anyone can be a feminist. But not everyone wants to be; even if it is in their best interest to be. The problem is that the word has garnered a negative reputation and more and more people are afraid of being seen as a feminist, but that’s only because they don’t know what it means.

Being a feminist is not synonymous with femininity, nor is the term exclusive to women, because, yes, men can be feminists. Both men and women now share the fear that something like feminism promotes one gender as superior to another. However, it is only men who hate women that define feminists as women who hate men, and unfortunately, this ideology is spreading. Feminism is not about hate; rather, it is about social, economic, and political equality across all genders. People don’t have to choose between one gender and another, and they definitely don’t have to hate men in order to promote the advancement of women where there is still room for progress.

Some people question whether feminism is even necessary anymore, but that is only because they fail to see what is going on around them, or even how far the feminist movement as a whole has come. There have been three recognized “waves” of feminism. The First Wave of feminism is characterized by the fight for equality in terms of law in the late 19th and early 20th century, in particular, securing the right to vote. Second Wave Feminism picks up around 1920 and is associated with the struggle for social and cultural equality. This secondary movement gave way to the current Third Wave of feminism, which is about empowerment and acceptance.

The fact is that women still get paid less than men. It is predominantly men who decide what women do with their bodies in terms of birth control and laws that prohibit abortion (or at least make it very difficult). This is a battle to enact these changes, but that does not mean that men must be the object of hate in order to show women love. Love and hate do not actually have to maintain an inverse relationship. Feminism’s definition has come to have connotations of hate toward the male gender, but that is only due to its misrepresentation by extremists.

The stereotype of the feminist movement is that it is filled with angry women. However, they are only “angry feminists” when faced with ignorant misogynists. Of course, it is the negative image of the angry feminist that prevails, and, because a small faction within society perpetuates the unsavory stereotype, the majority is misrepresented. Women should not have to be afraid to express themselves when they are angry, and justifiably so. 

Furthermore, women should not have to worry about intimidating men by showing their true strength. Feminism isn’t about “making women stronger” because they have always been strong. What needs to change is how that strength is perceived. In terms of feminism, it is not only the strength of the individual that is in question, but the strength of the movement as a whole. In order to enable progress toward equality, feminists will need the support of their peers, because there is strength in numbers too. It’s time to realize that wanting equal opportunities for both sexes makes you a feminist, and for us to do something positive, instead of arguing over a word.