OPINION

So you want to be a feminist, huh?

Taylor Swift arrives at the 2014 Teen Choice Awards.

Taylor Swift arrives at the 2014 Teen Choice Awards. (DANNY MOLOSHOK / REUTERS / August 11, 2014)

Between Taylor Swift’s “sudden” revelation that she actually is a feminist and Beyonce’s seizure-inducing glittertastic celebration at last month’s MTV Video Music Awards, it seems the term is making a mainstream comeback. Or at least the glossy, easy-to-swallow version of celebrity feminism, which for the record I’m totally cool with. I’m all for anything that will balance out the whack jobs on the “why we don’t need feminism” Tumblr.

But I have a feeling these sudden outbursts have left some a bit confused about what the term actually means. For those still on the fence, let’s have a little chat about what it really means to be a feminist on a very basic, simplistic level before you commit to your own Gloria Steinem quote tattoo.

Feminism, at its nitty-gritty core, is a two-parter. First, feminism is the idea that men and women should be equal in the work force, at home, in society, on all of the levels. Most people except for some unsavory, trolly extremists can get behind this general notion. Please note that saying men and women should be equal is not saying they are the same; women don’t have to “act like” men or vice versa, and yes, the obvious biological differences still exist. It is saying women should not be treated as inferior in the eyes of governments, religions, societies or families.

The second, more vital and often contentious part of feminism is the understanding that men and women currently are not treated equally. I think Part 2 is where a lot of young women and men balk against feminism because A) they don't see the inequalities in their lives or B) they can't or refuse to see the bias other women face because of their gender.

It’s one thing to say you haven't experienced sexism; that [bleep] is naive and generally understandable from young, white women whose lives revolve around the endless cycle of love, break-ups and never ever ever getting back together. But it is incredibly self-centered, irresponsible and unjustifiable to say there are no women who experience injustice because of their gender, as Taylor believed when she refused to call herself a feminist because she didn’t believe in “boys vs. girls.” To ignore the fact that Native American women experience rape at higher rates than other women, that limited access to safe abortions disproportionately affects women of color or that women across the board still get paid 77 cents to the dollar is the ultimate form of willful ignorance.

Not to hate on Ms. Swift too much; she is a product of our society, which doesn’t do a great job of educating young men and women about systematic injustices surrounding gender, race, class or sexual orientation. For all the feminist newbies, if you want to be part of this hip new feminist movement, it is time to start educating yourself and those surrounding you.

Feminism is not one thing; there are more nuances when it comes to all the gloriously complex and confusing intersections. And there are a ton of issues surrounding men’s issues and masculinity as well. With all these complexities, feminists, especially new baby feminists, will get confused and mess up. But no worries: You can be a feminist and do/make/say unfeminist things. Being a feminist does not require perfection. Feminism in general is a process, one that relies on goofing and then talking about it with some T-Swift-style vulnerability and honesty. 

So if you’re on board with all that, bring the glitter and let’s bedazzle the crap out of this new wave of feminism.

Niki Fritz is a RedEye special contributor.

CHICAGO
News Coverage on European Union - CTNow
RSS feeds allow Web site content to be gathered via feed reader software. Click the subscribe link to obtain the feed URL for this page. The feed will update when new content appears on this page.

European Union

A collection of news and information related to European Union published by this site and its partners.

Top European Union Articles see all

Displaying items 1-5
  • EPA To Reduce Sulfur in Gasoline by 2017

     
    The EPA will finalize a rule that should reduce sulfur in vehicles by two-thirds beginning in 2017. The Detroit News reports the move should ultimately decrease smog-causing gases by 80 percent because the bulk of smog-forming emissions are created during...
  • Bush, Europeans: World U.S.-view dim

     
    by Mark Silva At Camp David today, on a glorious, crisp fall day in the Maryland mountains in the midst of an international financial meltdown, President Bush huddled with the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the leader of the...

    Bush invites world leaders to summit

     
    by Mark Silva President Bush today invited leaders of the world's industrial powers to an economic summit in Washington starting on Nov. 15. The president will officially be a lame duck at that point, yet the economic crisis underway will...

    Global leaders vow to avert another crisis

     
    by Mark Silva The leaders of the world's industrial powers have concluded a hasty summit on a global economic crisis with a commitment to strengthen regulation of financial markets, bolster international monetary funds and avert any new trade barriers...

    Bush: Guess Hu's coming to dinner

     
    by Mark Silva and updated If the perimeter is a little tight around the White House tonight, for the pre-summit dinner of world leaders on the eve of an international economic summit in Washington, this list of attendees for the...