On What it Means to be a Feminist

Dear Sherina,

This past year has been full of new experiences and self-discoveries. One of the most important realizations I have made this past year is that I identify as a feminist. Feminism is more than a recent ‘trend’, it is the belief in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

Feminism often means different things for different people. For me, being a feminist means believing that women have the right to choose what they do with their lives.

Meaning that if you feel more comfortable if your body is fully covered, that’s great! Good for you for knowing what makes you feel comfortable. And if you chose to wear clothing that could be considered ‘revealing’ because you want to, that’s also great! Remember, self respect means respecting yourself and has nothing to do with how others may perceive you based on your clothing choices.

It should also be noted that women who choose to stay at home and raise their children deserve an equal level respect to women who choose to have a career outside of the home – this I cannot stress enough. The sky’s the limit in terms of what women can do with their lives and it’s crucial for everyone to understand that we can do as we please.

There are many aspects to consider when speaking of feminism. It does not cater only to the needs of cisgendered, caucasian women. The needs and realities of women of colour, transgendered women, women with disabilities and so forth should all be included on the spectrum.

Ceanray

Dear Ceanray,

I too discovered this year that I identify as a feminist. For a long time, I had no clue what the word meant; I thought it meant you hated men and wanted an all female world. Unfortunately, there are still people who think that that is what feminism is; when really, it is, as you described it, simply equality for both sexes.

I completely agree with all of your points, especially that we should leave no woman behind with regards to feminism and equality. I’m sure you’ve seen the recent Twitter drama between celebrities – namely, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift. To sum it up, Nicki was upset that her videos didn’t get nominated for some awards and tweeted her anger.

Taylor thought that this anger was directed at her and told Nicki it was unlike her to “pit women against each other”. Nicki wasn’t dissing Taylor at all – she was actually speaking out about the racism and sizeism in the music industry.

Let me say that I absolutely adore Taylor Swift. She inspires me in so many different ways; as of late, she has inspired me to have strong female friendships. I loved that she brought in tons of her friends into her Bad Blood Video. I think the song is catchy and fun. What I don’t completely love is that it almost seems like in the video, Taylor is doing what she criticized Nicki for doing: pitting women against women (as the song is allegedly about a feud between Taylor and Katy Perry).

It’s hard to support everyone – obviously, there are people we aren’t friends with and people who we disagree with. I think the idea of not pitting women against women doesn’t mean suppressing feelings when you feel betrayed or angry: rather, it means dealing with those feelings in a way that doesn’t create a huge spectacle, and doesn’t make the argument even worse. Having a disagreement with another woman doesn’t mean you’re not a feminist; but the way in which you deal with that argument says a lot about your true roots to the cause, in my opinion.

This past year, I feel as though the feminist movement has grown and gained a lot of support (you and I are two examples of teens who embraced feminism this year). It is my hope that not pitting ourselves against other women, we won’t leave anyone behind.

Sherina

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