The words ‘feminism’ and ‘equality’ are interchangeable. The purpose of the feminist movement, which has become increasingly prominent in the news and online, is to achieve just that–equality. With this movement comes the fight for reproductive rights, equal pay, protection from sexual assault, and the general goal to eradicate sexism.
A few years ago, a new feminist ideal was developed and popularized: that women should be able to do what they want with their bodies without repercussions or judgement. This is a statement with which I wholeheartedly agree, however, once it caught the publics’ attention,the idea quickly mutated into a rage against slut-shaming, the practice of putting down ‘sluts,’ or sexually active or promiscuous women.
I was fairly oblivious during the rise of this idea (a common trait of unworldly fourteen year olds.) At the time, what I gleaned from this new offshoot of feminism was that it was suddenly socially acceptable to wear revealing clothes and sleep around–so long as you called yourself a feminist. I thought that everyone acted this way, and that it was perfectly fine to do so. I thought that this was the only defining quality of feminism, and never bothered to investigate further. My undeveloped beliefs reflected those of the general public, and some people easily accepted this new desire to take control of our bodies, but it also had significant negative effects.
It isolated the more conservative, old-fashioned people. This wave of sexual liberation, like any other social movement, made some people uncomfortable, which is a perfectly valid response. Yet, many of these people had to suppress their opinions in fear of being deemed a ‘slut-shamer.’ On the opposite end of the spectrum, people who couldn’t care less about equality in the workforce or womens’ suffrage began using feminism as an excuse to hook up with strangers and to wear clothes that barely concealed their genitals. I am no one to pass judgement on the choices of others (because what they do affects me in no way), and I’m not asserting that either of those activities are wrong, but if the mentality behind them is ‘YOLO,’ the people engaging in them can hardly be considered feminists.
Feminism, once known as a solution to a problem, has become the root of a new problem. A major aspect of feminism (and common courtesy) is being non-judgemental, but this massive overcorrection caused a generation of walking paradoxes.
I encourage everyone to identify as a feminist, as long as you understand and support the term. Feminism is not a fad, something to be abused, or an attempt to ‘YOLO’ life. Respect yourselves, respect each other, and strive for equality. It’s easy to be swayed by popular opinion, but the only thing that can never be taken away from you are your morals.