Feminism < Respect

-Kasey Kurpakus, Contributing Writer

I have always considered myself to be a strong person. I was never the type of girl who needed approval from those around me. Yes, I cared what other people thought, but it wasn’t something that I was overly concerned about. And yet, the other evening, when someone close to me made a comment about my ‘inner feminist’ coming out, I was extremely bothered. It wasn’t the person, a male of course, who made me upset; it was me. I didn’t want to be labeled as a feminist, yet feminism is everything that I stand for. I don’t care for girls who are not strong, who cannot stand for themselves, and who don’t mind when they are put into typical “housewife” boxes, something that is very common here in the South in comparison to my northern home. Yet when this friend called me a feminist, it made me rethink my ideals and what I value in myself and other women.

As an avid Internet user and lover of the blog site Tumblr, I have read a good bit about this new wave of feminism that seems to be cropping up in the young generation, and more often than not, they have it wrong. This new wave of feminism is calling for independent and strong young girls and is being answered by these new ‘man haters’. There are posts and websites and entire blogs dedicated to ‘women against feminism’ and the oppression of men. There are women and girls who are bashing and verbally abusing those women who want to be housewives, who want to be stay-at-home moms. Now don’t get me wrong, I stated before that I don’t care for the housewife stereotype, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to disrespect anyone who does. I don’t want to be a stay at home mother; it’s not who I am, but if that’s who my best friend wants to be, does that make me better than her? Shouldn’t I respect the choices she has made for her life, because isn’t that, in fact, what feminism is all about?

Feminism is about just that; feminism is about respect. The whole feminist movement was started on the premises of equality, and there is no way that equality for all can be accomplished without respect. We have to respect the strong women who want to fend for themselves, but we also have to respect the women who want to be caretakers, who choose traditional housewife roles. This, however, does not mean that women should fear, loathe, hate, or disrespect men. Emma Watson, a popular film actress, just recently gave a presentation to advertise the beginning of the UN’s HeForShe campaign. HeForShe is a movement to get boys and men actively involved in the argument and the fight for equality between the genders. As an admirer of Emma, I was extremely pleased to see her views aligned with mine. She focuses on the importance of women’s rights, but under the premise that men are not to be judged, blamed, or hated. Yes, there are always going to people, both male and female, who do not believe in the same values and principles for equality, but this does not mean they are not also people, people who have just as many rights and deserve just as much respect as you and I.

HeForShe is something women should be proud of. The internet has gone wild with pictures of male actors, sport figures, and celebrities showing their support for HeForShe. I am appalled to see some of the responses that these posts are receiving; having a man supporting feminism does not harm our cause. This is something we should be fighting for. Women should be glad that men are supporting this cause; this is the recognition we should want. Feminism is about equality and we should not be discriminating about anyone who decides to join the cause.

When I think about my views on feminism, I am often drawn to one of my favorite Disney movies, Hercules. Meg, the princess character of this film, states in one scene “I am a damsel. I’m in distress. I can handle this.” This statement defines who I am, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with a girl who wants to be Cinderella and wait for her prince to rescue her. I believe that no matter what we want for our lives, or what kind of person we have chosen to be, all women should recognize that it is our choice and that nothing anyone says or does should make us feel bad for the choices we make. Feminism is supposed to be for all; equality is supposed to be for all.

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