Why Are We So Afraid To Label Ourselves As Feminists?

Did you hear that? She just said the F-word.

No, not THAT F-word, but a different F-word. The F-word that is constantly being thrown around in the media. You know what I’m talking about.

Feminist.

Some women shudder when they hear this word. Others crinkle their noses and roll their eyes when they hear it. “I’m just not a feminist,” they always seem to say.

What about these three syllables makes us so uncomfortable? How come women refuse to label themselves as feminist?

The media is a big problem, especially when celebrities such as Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, and Carrie Underwood have publicly denounced themselves as feminists. The negative connotations depicted in the media make feminists out to be radical, man-hating, bra-burning women.

In all actuality, the definition of feminism is as follows: “someone who advocates for the social, political, legal, and economic rights of women equal to those of men.”

In simpler terms, a feminist believes that all sexes should be treated in the exact same way.

I know what you’re thinking. “C’mon, it’s 2015! Women are treated exactly the same as men. Women can vote, and there are plenty of women who run Fortune 500 companies. A woman is even running for president!”

While these achievements are great, we still have a long way to go.

One of the biggest and overwhelming issues feminists try to fight is the wage gap. On average, women earn 79 percent of what men are paid. Women of color face an even larger gap, with Hispanic and Latina women earning 54 percent of what a man is paid.

Lame, right?

It’s a common myth that feminists want to topple the patriarchy and create a social system where women rule all, and men are nothing but lowly servants. In actuality, feminists pose this simple question: “Shouldn’t men and women be paid the same salary for doing the same work?”

If you answered yes, you just might be a feminist! *gasp*

Feminists support a variety of issues, from ending rape culture to securing reproductive rights. What is one thing these issues have in common? They are trying to put men and women on the same playing field.

Instead of being seen as people who fight for equal opportunities for everyone, feminists are instead seen as angry women who grow unruly armpit hair, burn their bras and eat men for breakfast.

Newsflash: feminists are just like you and me. Hell, feminists don’t even have to be women! Mark Ruffalo, Matt McGorry, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have joined Beyoncé, Amy Poehler, and Lena Dunham by proudly declaring themselves as feminists.

(That’s a group of people I definitely wouldn’t mind eating pizza with).

Honestly, we don’t want to label ourselves as feminists because of the stigma that comes with it. Instead of perceiving “feminist” as a term of strength and unity, we only see the spiteful and angry myths that the word entails.

The truth is, most of the people you know probably hold feminist beliefs. However, not labeling ourselves as feminists due to the stigma is a part of the problem: how are we going to solve gender inequality if we can’t even use the word that addresses these issues?

If you believe that all sexes should be treated equally and have the same opportunities, then sorry my friend, you are indeed a feminist.

Image via Amelia Kramer

Allison Underhill

Editorial Contributor, Indiana University Major: Journalism and Spanish Her heart belongs to: pineapple pizza, her cat, The Office, mint Oreo milkshakes, music, Harry Styles' man bun and being the world's greatest dad Take her away to: anywhere with a good book and an endless supply of chips and salsa

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