(CU Independent illustration/Kelly Kaoudis)
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All feminists are unattractive, whiny, men-bashing, bra-burning, non-women who want to rid the world of men. Right?
It is neither surprising nor terribly disconcerting to hear some men make disparaging remarks about feminists from throughout the last century. It is more upsetting, on the other hand, to hear women themselves chide feminists and describe them in a less-than-complimentary and quite stereotypical manner.
For me, feminism is more than activism. It is just as much about recognizing the power, brilliance, strength, capability and potential of what it means to be a woman. It is about self-determination despite a long history of repression.
So why is there such a backlash toward women and men fighting for the rights of other women?
I could go through the countless women’s rights laws passed over the last century by feminists who fought for them, but I won’t. Instead, pick up a women’s history book. Better yet, take a women’s studies class. The point is that without feminists, women would have very few rights in this country.
I know the choices I make defining the shape, meaning and path of my life are completely defined by the feminists who gave me the opportunity to make them.
Indeed, any woman who believes it is her natural right to get a college education, achieve a successful career (and demand equal pay in said career), make her own reproductive and lifestyle choices, own property, vote for state or national representation, or even serve jury duty, is an inherent feminist.
Perhaps most important, any woman who feels the necessity to be the maker, the architect, or the creator of her own destiny—whether that means staying home and raising children or going out and working her whole life, or both—is a feminist.
More than anything, the negativity toward feminists and women’s rights activists reflects the patriarchal nature of a society that allots very little attention, respect and seriousness to women’s issues and causes both in America and around the world. This is an even deeper reflection of what individual women have to fight every single day in their personal and professional lives: the right to be taken seriously.
The fact is that Susan B. Anthony gave us the right to vote, Margaret Sanger gave us our first birth control clinic, Gloria Steinem gave us strong words that would shape a movement and even more, a lifestyle, and Angela Davis added color to a canvas that did not see black women’s life struggles as part of the picture.
These are merely four of our nation’s innumerable feminist models. These feminists changed the world they lived in and certainly the world we live in today. Are their accomplishments, groundbreaking published works, law-changing abilities and hard work worth ridiculing?
We must not forget that being a feminist does not make one anti-men; on the contrary, it signifies being pro-women. It means that we will fight for our rights, assert our far-reaching power and perhaps most important: stand together in solidarity.
Rather than bashing feminists, or making stupid remarks, why not appreciate the need for strong activists across the world? Why not stand beside women and men who simply want to improve and strengthen the lives of other women?
That is something I would certainly burn my bra for.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Neda Habibi at Neda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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