Why I’m a Feminist (And You Should Be, Too)

For a long time, I resisted calling myself a feminist. I don’t entirely know why, all I know is that I was one of those “I’m not a feminist, but…” people. And everything that came after that statement was, without fail, decidedly feminist. Perhaps I didn’t want to be associated with feminism because, unfortunately, there is still stigma attached to it. Perhaps I wasn’t strong enough yet in my own beliefs to take ownership of them. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t until my third year of university that I began to identify as a feminist.

I believe that feminism is important. I believe that feminism is beneficial to many people, not just straight, white, upper-middle class women. I believe that you should probably be a feminist too.

Here’s why.

Sexism affects everyone.

Do you have a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, female friend? Sexism affects her. Do you have a father, brother, son, uncle, male friend? Sexism affects him. This is not an issue that is snug in one little corner, never leaving its designated VIP area. For every girl who is taught that she is only as good as how hot she is, there is a boy who is being taught that he needs to live up to the masculine ideals of our society, that he needs to be tough and aggressive, that he’s a big dumb brute who just can’t help himself when it comes to sex, that rape isn’t good but oh-it-just-can’t-be-helped. This is damaging to everyone.

Sexism is every day.

Sexism isn’t just the big things like abortion, access to birth control, and the wage gap. Sexism is in our every day lives. It’s creeping and insidious and hard to combat. It is in the little things like how I run with one headphone out so I am constantly aware of my surroundings, it is how my friend was approached by a random stranger and told to take her pants off, it is the public slut-shaming of Kristen Stewart while Rupert Sanders’s part in the transgression fades into the background. Sexism is a daily, moment to moment experience.

I want a better world for my sons and daughters.

I want to teach my daughters that they are worth more than their bodies. That they are capable of being prime minister or a Pulitzer Prize winner or the CEO of a high-powered Fortune 500 company (making as much as any man would). I want them to know that they can do it, and I want them to be able to do it. I want them to be able to make their own choices about sex and motherhood and careers.

I want my sons to be respectful of women and themselves, I want them to know that real men cry and express their feelings, and that rape culture is not unavoidable, inevitable. I want them to know that women don’t owe them anything, least of all their bodies. I want them to know that they will be loved and accepted no matter what they decide to do with their lives, no matter what kind of man they are: gay, straight, masculine, feminine, athletic, artistic, whatever. I want them to be unafraid to be who they are. And I want them to know that their sisters are worth just as much as they are. And their mother too.

I want a world without racism, homophobia, classism. I want an -ismless world.

Sexism is tied up in all of these -isms, in myriad ways. The ban on same-sex marriage in many countries is just another way to force people into a little box, a narrow band of what is considered right and normative. Laws that make it harder for same-sex couples to adopt, or to have the same benefits as heterosexual couples, do the same thing.

There are so many more reasons, but the crux of the matter is that sexism affects me, and it affects you, and it affects everyone around us. This is not a small problem, nor is it one that will just go away on its own. I am a feminist because I believe in a world where men and women are equal, where my sons and daughters have the same opportunities, where men are taught not to rape, and I don’t have to go around living my life like I could be attacked at any second. That’s why I’m a feminist. Are you?

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Jessica can most often be found with her nose in a book, or writing her newest short story/screenplay/novel, but she also has a passion for travel, child-care & development, psychology, feminism (and other forms of equality), and making the world a better place in general. Email Me