Last night, I discovered the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter. I have never seen 140 characters at a time be used so powerfully.
There’s been a lot of debate about hashtag activism recently, but the #YesAllWomen campaign is an excellent example of when it goes right. Twitter is the perfect forum for educating people of all genders about what feminism really means: it’s not misandry and man-hating, it’s not bra burning, it’s not a push for females to form an army and overthrow governments in some sort of gendered coup. It’s about equality, justice, acceptance, and safety. It’s about being taken seriously, receiving equal pay and equal treatment, defying stereotypes, and loving ourselves and others.
Still hesitant to call yourself a feminist? I hesitate sometimes too; “feminist” has a lot of negative connotations fueled by incorrect beliefs, a history of radicalism, and overall misogyny. In certain circles, identifying yourself with feminism comes with dirty looks and verbal attacks disguised as “debates.” But we have to keep correcting falsehoods and teaching people that “feminist” is really another word for “egalitarian,” or, as I like to call it, “decent human being.”
Here’s why yes, ALL women need feminism.
- Because we have to specify when we mean a female doctor, a female lawyer, a female comedian, because we automatically assume that someone who is powerful, successful, and funny would be male.
- Because we frequently call adult women “girls” to imply their naivete and powerlessness, but it would sound ridiculous to call adult men “boys.”
- Because street harassment isn’t a compliment, it’s proof that our safety is entirely dependent on the harasser.
- Because I’m often scared to express my feelings (sadness, anger, love) to men for fear of them thinking I’m “too sensitive” or “overly emotional.”
- Because only a woman denying a male friend’s sexual advancements is “putting him in the friendzone,” for which he often gets sympathy from her, her friends, and his friends.
- Because men will leave you alone if you say “I have a boyfriend” but not if you say “I’m not interested.”
- Because parents say “Aww, he likes her!” when a little boy is mean to a little girl, which encourages boys to be violent and teaches girls that violence indicates affection.
- Because women always have to think of an escape plan.
- Because every woman I know has experienced some form of sexual assault.
- Because we apologize for too many things, including asking for help when we need it and making sure other people are actually doing their jobs.
- Because the #YesAllWomen tag prompted the creation of the #YesAllPeople tag so that anti-feminists can parody and belittle an outlet for women to voice their opinions.
- Because “feminist” is still an insult, as if equality is something we should be reprimanded for wanting.