Wednesday, May 22Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

The F Word

OED Definition of Feminism:

Pronunciation: /ˈfɛmɪnɪz(ə)m


[Mass Noun]

The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

A simple enough concept. So why is there still a problem?

It goes without saying that women have been, and continue to be the victims of a patriarchal society, oppressed and restrained throughout the world to varying degrees. This is an unfair and unacceptable status quo and something that needs to change. For this reason feminism is one of the most important movements that exists today, directly affecting half of the world’s population; so why is the concept so misconstrued?

Recently, in conversation with a friend, the question was asked as to whether she considered herself a feminist. She replied that she didn’t, as she likes men and didn’t see the point in burning her bra. It’s important to acknowledge here that this conversation took place at the university, exemplifying that she was a woman that had made the choice to further her education and seek a career. Doing so, ultimately as a result of early “bra burning” feminists. Clearly however, there was a lack of awareness concerning the correlation between the two. It’s disconcerting to think that a woman in a position such as hers is uneducated in the movement that has the most power to aid her in her career aspirations.

Feminism is inherently a good cause and to question it would be absurd. However, there is sadly a stigma that remains attached to the movement, that is encouraged by a misconception of what it stands for. A woman that hates men is not a feminist, she is sexist. Feminism is the fight for the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, not a campaign for female superiority over men. It is through thinking otherwise that the argument and the work of past feminists is undermined, turning it into an extreme and isolated movement. It is through thinking otherwise, that men are given the opportunity to trivialise feminism and other women are discouraged from considering themselves a feminist. There is a line between FemLove and ManHate.

Not all feminists hate men, and not all men seek to oppress women. It is such generalisations and stereotypes that create inaccurate representations, causing misunderstanding and a closed-minded perception of the world. The problem lies not in the opinions that people hold, but their unwillingness to see anything to the contrary.

People are people. Gender is one facet of an individual and to marginalise them because of it is prejudice comparable to racism or homophobia. It should not define the potential of a person. As a society we should learn to look beyond all of these descriptors and see people as more than how they appear before us. Feminism should seek equality between men and women, as the civil rights movement sought racial equality, and it should not become a forum for hatred or the belittling of the opposing gender.