Let’s talk about the F-word. That word women dare not utter for fear of being seen as that kind of girl. You know the one we’re talking about… FEMINISM. For so many people, feminism is seen as a thing of the past—something our mothers fought for, or their mothers, or their mothers’ mothers. But the reality is, we still live in a country where women have to fight for their own reproductive rights, get paid less than their male counterparts, and are more exposed to domestic violence and sexual assault. Oh and did we mention there are more CEOs called John than female CEOs period?
Because March is Women’s History Month, we wanted to provoke discussion about what it means to be a feminist and who can be a feminist. As far as we’re concerned, feminism means political, economic, and social equality for everyone, irrespective of sex or gender. So are we feminists? Hell yes we are.
For this series, we reached out to a group of people of different ages, races, genders, occupations, political affiliations, and religious convictions—all of whom self-identify as feminists. We asked each of them to share their take on the F-word, hoping to show one thing: feminism isn’t just for women, feminism is for all of us.
FATMAH: AFRO-ARAB, MUSLIM AMERICAN, SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVIST, STUDENT
“I think some may be surprised to hear that I identify as feminist depending on how they define it and whether or not they see my hijab as a symbol for feminism or oppression. Feminism to me is being able to remove all the checked boxes that ‘define’ a person based on cultural expectations and societal norms, and being able to define yourself based on your own values and ideologies. We live in a time of injustice, inequitable access, and hatred towards different identities. As a country that constantly talks about equal rights and justice, we’ve failed, and we must change that.”
ERIK: DAD & HUSBAND, BIRD & BIG GAME HUNTER, GARDENER, HOME BREWER
“I am a Republican man so some (false) stereotypes might suggest that I cannot also be a feminist, but I thoroughly support the idea of equal opportunity for all women. The term feminist has picked up ‘radical’ connotations in the past, but to me equality isn’t radical.”
ALICIA: MISS ARIZONA, MODEL, SINGER, & SUN DEVIL
“I probably get judged for being a beauty queen, but being a feminist isn’t about what job you do or how you look, it’s about treating each other with respect and allowing each person to make their own choices without being held back or restricted.”
MICHAEL: MINISTER, FAITH-BASED ORGANIZER FOR OCCUPY WALL STREET, DR. WHO OBSESSED
“Sadly, the Christian church, for almost its entire history, has too often been used to justify and bolster patriarchy, racism, and inequality. Because of this, the church has become synonymous with all these evils for many people, and sometimes they are surprised to hear the true spiritual life of compassion and equality articulated by a Christian Minister. But my read of the scriptures leads me to believe that Jesus himself was a feminist, so how can I not do my best to follow this example?”
ACE: SAMOAN FAMILY MAN, BELIEVER IN STRONG FAMILY VALUES, PASSIONATE ABOUT LIFE
“When society hears ‘feminist’ they automatically see a woman, not a man. What people fail to realize is feminism is a movement and a belief that supports the equality of women. I can only hope that when my three daughters are out in the real world on their own, they are judged based on experience, education, their morals and beliefs, and not on their gender.”
GOLDINI: RAPPER, PORTLANDER, INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY
“Why do I consider myself a feminist? It’s 2016. Do I really need to explain why I support equal rights?”
JEREMY: TRANSGUY, TYPEWRITER TROUBADOUR, ADVOCATE
“Calling myself a feminist helps me to redefine what it means to be a man, how to be an ally to women, people of color, LGBTQ and other marginalized groups of people.”
SHANNON: ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL, LGBTQIA+ ACTIVIST, MAMA
“I am a feminist because I recognize that oppression of women has lead to many of the downfalls of contemporary American culture. When hearing from women leading movements, we hear change must happen. When hearing from women of color, we hear even more radical change must occur. When listening to trans and queer women of color, we hear a call to action and call to social justice that involves every institution our country is built upon. There is no other way to heal from the past that does not include listening to those most oppressed.”
LEAH: 12 YEARS OLD, BIOLOGIST/ACTIVIST IN THE MAKING, TYPE 1 DIABETIC, HIP HOP NERD OF MINECRAFT
“Some people think young girls can’t have opinions or be activists. I am a feminist because I believe gender does not matter, we should all be equals. We are all humans; living, using, and relying on this earth.”