Celebrating International Women’s Day last month has highlighted to me not only the importance of feminism, but the importance of making the definition clear.
While I feel it’s a genuinely widespread term the meaning becomes clouded by the ‘feminine’ connotations of the word itself. For these reasons I feel that it isn’t completely understood or even promoted correctly to today’s youth and therefore alters their view of gender equality, something fundamental to understanding and interacting with others.
The definition of feminism is the belief that men and women are born equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. Though online dictionaries, our most accessible sources, may present the definition as ‘the advocacy of women’s rights’, both language and times have changed. The term now concerns both the involvement and advocacy of men’s rights. Gender inequality isn’t just a one dimensional thing, it’s about imbalance, affecting both men and women.
No, I am not male, so I can’t speak on behalf of either men who are feminists or men who aren’t. But after hearing the standpoints of boys I know, I can see that they’re capable of recognising the benefits of feminism in the same way that women are. The stigmatised term shouldn’t divide us and be a barrier to sharing in the same beliefs, just as being male or being female shouldn’t be a barrier or deciding factor in certain opportunities or support. In order to overcome these ‘barriers’, feminism should be properly addressed: this kind of education amongst the youth is just as vital as maths and English.
I think that, especially within a learning environment, an awareness of how to treat each other respectfully and equally is an important constituent of building and maintaining relationships. This shouldn’t just apply to gender but to all forms of discrimination. If we can achieve clarity about how to best reduce the significance of our differences, we can strengthen the ways in which we create more emotionally and empathetically intelligent relationships.