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Why don’t women want to be feminists?

Sofia Hashi | Fulcrum Staff

Illustration by Mathias MacPhee

FEMINISM. IT’S A word that has seemingly become quite offensive to many people. Packing more of a punch than the original F word itself, these eight letters denote a social theory that many young women are distancing themselves from. But why should women be afraid of feminism? Why shouldn’t we want to label ourselves as feminists or stand up for women’s rights? It seems as if there’s an anti-movement going on right now, and it’s subtler than you think. This movement is our fear of feminism.

Many powerful women have come out to say that they would not like to be labelled as feminists. Music star Taylor Swift, French actor Juliette Binoche, and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer have all tossed the term out the window. Lady Gaga, too, was quoted as saying, “I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture and beer and bars and muscle cars.”

While Lady Gaga is certainly no authority on the topic, she is a powerful and successful woman in the public eye. Many young girls look up to such women, and we do take into account the image they’re selling—which, in this case, isn’t feminism friendly.

So what happened to the golden age of girl power? Did it disappear with the previous generation, to be forgotten as a thing of the past?

The short answer is yes and no. We women have fallen into a false sense of security. We’ve won; in Canada, we’re protected under the law and legally entitled to the same rights and freedoms as men are. We can do anything we please now. Wear pants. Check. Pursue higher education. Check. Wear skirts. Check. Be a stay-at-home mom. Check. We have endless choices, and that’s all thanks to the feminist movement. But have we really won?

According to Statistics Canada, as of 2008, full-time working women still earn 71 cents less per hour than their male counterparts. Women are also two and a half times more likely than men to experience the worst kinds of violence, including being beaten, choked, sexually assaulted, or threatened with a knife or gun. The statistics are staggering—and these figures are just in Canada. Can you imagine the numbers for the rest of the world?

There are those who say feminism isn’t compatible with being a humanist. You can’t be a feminist if you celebrate male culture. That’s not true. Being a feminist simply means that you advocate for women’s rights on a social, political, and economic level. It’s not a guys-versus-girls sort of deal. In fact, all feminists are looking for is equality.

Feminism isn’t a thing of the past, and does belong in the 21st century. So, go ahead and call me a feminist. I’m not afraid.