By: Rhonda Nemri
Normally when people hear or read the word feminist, their own connotation of the word is different than other people’s definition of the word. People who have not considered looking into feminist literature or theory, have come to the conclusion(s) that all feminists are either lesbian, man haters, hate the world, hate women, or just want to be like a man. At times as a feminist you have to consider that even though these definitions may come off as offensive, you have to stop and think that these meanings that are given are not educational guesses, these are meanings that have been misinterpreted by society and passed along to others, in which has created ignorance. However, being a feminist is not something that you are born with. Women can realize they are a feminist in their adult years. I for one realized I was a feminist at the age of 24.
The meaning of the word feminist is a lifestyle that you choose to live based off of how you perceive things in your life that deal with woman and cultural oppression’s that occurs day to day. It is not that a feminist want to be a man, she wants to be able to be accepted as a woman without being said she is acting masculine. This means that woman tend to stay within what society tells them their roles are. For instance, woman are to stay home, live under the patriarchy (which is her father) until she is married and passed along to another patriarchal figure (her husband). She is to have children and become the mother/wife of the household. Her duties must represent womanly duties, and not ones that relates to a mans job. Women have seen the opressions and inequalities that occur in our society. Some reject the fact that this is a problem, others accept there is a problem but do nothing about it, and some women accept it and do something about it. The reason why some reject that there are problems is because they have been conditioned to believe that this is the way life is supposed to be. A man is in control, and the woman should be submissive to a man. Those women who realize there is a problem and do not do anything about it, are living in fear that if they speak up about the issues, it will come back to haunt them and used against them. However, those who have accepted that there is a problem and act out, it becomes harder for them to go back and be a part of the society that thinks it is okay for women to be objects or considered the “other”. A feminist understands and knows that she is in a world that creates these norms for women that they should abide by.
We have women now in all kinds of career paths and fields. However, are they really equal to a man when it comes to pay? I was once told that the womans issues are petty and should not be focused on so much. If we continue to think these are petty issues then the stereotypes and close minded statements will always be there. In the societal roles that women have we can notice that women tend to have jobs that are close knit to their household duties or what is expected from them. For example, teachers, secretaries, nurses, lunch ladies, housekeepers, and so on. To be a feminist you have to accept that these are roles given to us and are expected from us. You can either reject them or accept them. Even if you are part of these career paths and fields, it is not that it is wrong, however you must consider that these are what people normally see women doing, and that you must be sure that you are doing it for yourself and not because society tells you to do it. There are different kinds of feminists (radical, liberal, global and multicultural, etc ). Each of these types of feminst believe that society objectifies women, however not all types of feminist believe in the same things. For instance a radical feminist believe in a revolutionary approach. That the patriarchy must be torn down. The liberal feminist believes that our society should have a reform. That certain things should be changed in order for women to not be oppressed. global and multicultural feminists believe that all types of women from different cultures go through similar oppressions, however some are more brutal than others. For example genital mutilation, honor killings, marriage at a young age, etc. Being a feminist is not an easy part of ones life, however it is a lifestyle that will change your perceptions of how you want your life to be.
It is common that those who do not accept feminism, will tend to pull you back and debate with you on certain topics to make you look wrong. Also, there are those who will always keep an eye on you and try to point out things you do wrong to justify that your are not a real feminist. But being a feminist is not like being from another country, it is being a women without the patriarchy telling you how to be a woman. That all the choices you make are based on your needs and not someone elses needs.