Being a feminist is actually far more simple than some let on.
Where it gets tricky is when people who say they are a feminist focus solely on gender or are hateful to other groups of people. This is not feminism.
Feminists are intersectional.
Intersectionality is the recognition of the multifaceted issues that many people are subject to. These issues are often overlooked. The term “intersectionality” was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989. She uses this term to explain the oppression that black women face: black women are oppressed by their race AND their gender. When progress is made in either identity group, black women are consistently forgotten. This is a simplification of Crenshaw’s argument and I highly suggest reading her work on intersectionality. (Youtube also has some great interviews with Crenshaw)
To be intersectional in feminism, or an intersectional feminist, is to address the issues of all types of inequality, not just issues of gender. This means that….
Feminists strive to create equality based on race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation….
Note the language “gender” is used and not “sex”. Sex refers to someone’s classification as male or female at birth, given to them by a doctor based on bodily characteristics. Gender refers to a person’s internal sense of self. This can be different from their assigned sex. Terms include woman, man, non-binary, and genderqueer.
Feminists do not exclude transgender, non-binary, or genderqueer women
Feminists want to help men too!
A common misinterpretation of feminism includes the idea that anyone who says they are a feminist hates all men or that men can’t be feminists. This is highly inaccurate! Feminists want equality amongst all people, this includes men! Feminists want to help get rid of the negative stereotypical gendered traits that society puts on men, such as the phrase “be a man” meaning that men don’t cry, aren’t emotional, are strong, are masculine. Feminists want men to be able to be the type of man they want to be without ridicule.
The same fights that are being fought for women, feminists fight for men too. The fights just may look a little different but the sentiment is the same. Let people be who they want to be, equal opportunity for all people.
The big one. The overall takeaway from this….
If you believe in equality and equal opportunity, you are a feminist.
See, it’s simple.
Yes, there are nuances to feminism and this isn’t an all-encompassing list of what it means to be a feminist. At its core, feminism is about equal opportunity, letting people be who they want to be, letting people be their best selves, and breaking the barriers that prevent them from doing so.
Remember to love each other, be kind, and grow.
Image from: https://iwda.org.au/