Let me tell you what the “F” word means to me.
But first, I want to say: Feminists do not hate men.
However, I do have an uncanny ability to match a man’s respect for me. And if he doesn’t show me respect, he’ll likely be shocked and offended to find me doing the same. Perhaps I’ll be labeled as one of those “man-hating-feminists,” rather than another person, an equal, exhibiting an equal amount of respect.
Before you think we hate men, consider the idea of “mutual respect.” I don’t hate men. I am a straight woman; I love men. In particular, I love the men that respect me.
To me, feminism is the hope that I may be a part of one of the last generations that are taught to keep pink Mace hanging on their key chain—just in case. That I would feel comfortable letting my daughter leave the house without showing her how to hold her keys in between her fingers—just in case. That our future daughters are not shown lists about what rapists typically look for. That they will live in a society that doesn’t tell them wearing a dress or a ponytail may make them “easier prey.”
Feminism is expecting equal pay for equal work.
I am truthfully baffled that this is even still an argument. As a barista, I am not asking for equal pay to an engineer. I do not think I should make the same as any man who is doing a different job than myself. Rather, the argument of equal pay is painfully simple: if a woman and a man are equally qualified and are doing the same job, the woman should make equivalent to what the man is making. Seems simple. However, (white) women are still only making 80 cents to the man’s dollar. Women of color have it even worse.
To me, feminism is being terrified and angered that the people whose voices are the loudest concerning my uterus are men. Rich, powerful men are telling every kind of woman, from every kind of background, with every kind of health and mental health history, and any sort of money situation what they are allowed to do with their bodies.
It’s as if once a penis enters your vagina you are government property. Women should not be forced to justify the state of their uterus or the fertilization of their eggs, but in case the thought hasn’t crossed the politicians’ (and the people who elect them) mind before: Women find themselves pregnant for a slew of different reasons and a plethora of different circumstances and that doesn’t mean that they did anything wrong or dirty.
With every form of birth control there is still a margin of error that comes with each. Women find themselves pregnant in abusive relationships, broken relationships, dealing with mental or physical health that could be exacerbated by pregnancy. They may be sex workers, women who are actually not women at all, but children who are doing what everyone has done—which is make a damn mistake.
Congress is actively trying to force babies to be born into all sorts of living conditions and are taking no consideration into the possible side-effects these forced births could have on not only the baby, but the mothers as well. Contrary to the right wing, conservative belief, very few women see these procedures as “the easy way out.”
Feminism is being sick of slut shaming. It is still alive and well. When a woman is raped, those around her whisper about what she was wearing. About how many tequila shots she may have taken that night. If she had somehow led this man to believe he was allowed to force himself inside of her. As if it is a woman’s job to keep men from raping her.
Feminism is being saddened to watch boys and men fall victim to our one-sided school dress codes, allowing them to believe that it is okay to have no self control. That, just maybe, if her skirt is three inches above the knee she is just asking for it.
I am not a feminist because I hate men, I am a feminist because I want more from our men. I don’t think men are animals with no self control; I think society is telling them that it’s okay if they are. And I want more than that.
Author: Emily Cutshaw
Editor: Travis May