By Madelyn Jones
With the recent and massive turnouts for Women’s Marches around the globe, it is clear that feminism is stronger than ever. However, many people remain critical of the movement. In fact, it is incredibly common in this day and age to hear people claim that they believe in gender equality, but to simultaneously distance themselves from the term “feminist.”
In many cases, people’s refusal to associate themselves with the word comes from not understanding it. The title of “feminist” is often criticized since the word’s root is “fem,” which means women, leading many to believe the movement is about women’s superiority. They don’t realize that the movement is called feminism because it addresses the oppressed group it wishes to empower and bring to equality, not matriarchy.
Many people fail to realize that this movement benefits men. One of feminism’s main goals is to question and eliminate gender roles so people can express themselves and act how they like without having to worry about the societal repercussions that come from failing to conform.
From a young age, we are socialized into believing that classically feminine traits are inferior to masculine traits. This bias comes up often in comments that might seem harmless and normal, but actually hold weight.
For example, the phrase “you throw like a girl” often appears in a casual and joking way, but it labels girls as less capable. Comments like this are so normalized that people do not always realize how they label feminine traits as inferior.
This label is not just detrimental to women, but men as well. Men can have a difficult time expressing weakness and emotions because those are labeled as feminine traits. They are often told to be more masculine, to “man up” and not show any one that they are having a hard time. This makes men repress their feelings and sometimes stops them from reaching out for help when needed.
Feminism also aims to show that women succeed in careers that society labels as masculine, such as STEM fields. This also opens up more options for men. Men are expected to find high–paying jobs that allow them to support a family alone, and are often criticized when the women in their lives are the ones making money. By breaking down the social misconception that women cannot do certain jobs as well as men, it takes off the burden put on men to be the most prevalent providers for the family.
Erasing gender roles in the workplace would make it acceptable for men to stay home with the kids, while the wife has the career that supports them, if that is what a heterosexual couple decides that is what is best for them. Changing the idea that the man needs to be the support of their family and make more than their wife opens up many more opportunities for all parties involved. It allows families to choose what situation is best for them, instead of making decisions based off of gender roles.
Feminism is not just beneficial to women because one of its main goals is to unbind society from gender roles that often pressure people into acting a certain way. Creating equality for women helps everyone by alleviating them of social stereotypes and norms based off of their gender.