Kathy Bibang, Opinions Editor
Photo//Joe Flood via Flickr
When I was in high school, I would always say that I was a feminist although I really did not know much about the movement. I genuinely thought that Feminism was a movement that started to fight inequality between women and men in society. I believed that motive was the first and main objective of the whole thing.
A couple of years later, I discovered that the movement has many waves, and that some feminists were and are more radical than others, which has caused a lot of misunderstandings about Feminism as a whole. At this point, I decided to do some research and learn more.
The first definition I encountered was from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary that says that feminism is the “belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests.”
I assumed that every feminist acted according to this definition, or a similar one. Later on, I learned that modern feminists were seen as unhappy people since they only care about “destroying men,” and people would say things like “modern women will never get married because no man wants to marry a woman that wants to be a man.”
In my mind, those accusations did not make sense because as a girl who grew up around boys, I never thought of myself as “less feminine” or “boy-ish,” even though I played boys games all the time and wanted my brothers and male cousins to treat me as one of them.
My parents never told me that playing with my brothers would make me less feminine, which I appreciate a lot. Never in my life I thought I was a tomboy, by the way, a word that I always knew but never labeled myself with.
A friend of mine and I were so proud of calling ourselves feminists. We thought that we matured enough to the point where we would not let anyone mess with us because we believed we knew better.
There was a show that I liked a lot in which there were two lesbians who called themselves feminists, but one of them was very extremist to the point that she proudly admitted that she hated all men and wished all of them to die or just disappear. That is when I started questioning calling myself a feminist. I did not know that people could feel that way.
Yes, we should hold men, and everyone, accountable for their vile acts, but we cannot just use a person’s sex or gender as a reason to judge them. Women have been in that position before. We were told for centuries that we were too sensitive.
I had no idea that calling oneself “a feminist” could entail so much negativity and hatred. I did not know that the movement did not address issues that affected non-white women, so people started to call it “white feminism.”
Although I wanted men and women of all races to have equal opportunities in everything, little did I know that just the idea would cause arguments that often did not lead anywhere. That is why I would say things such as “I am not a feminist, but I believe in some of the movement’s purposes” because I really wanted to believe that women will be able to act in society without being judged by existing double standards.
It was thanks to TikTok that I got introduced to intersectional feminism. Intersectionality emphasizes that gender, race, and class are interconnected, so it is impossible to talk about issues that affect a gender while leaving out the person’s race, religion, or social standing. Ignoring those things is ignoring that person’s being.
American law professor and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term “intersectional feminism” said, “all inequality are not created equal.” So advocating for all women when women of different races face different issues for different reasons is like denying that the Earth is not round even though there is evidence that proves that the Earth is indeed round.
An entire movement cannot be for the women when it leaves out some of the women. I know POC women are part of minority communities in the US, but it is a bit disappointing to know that some people really do not see non-white women’s issues as real issues because they could not or did not want to relate to them.
Accepting that we are all different and perceiving every person’s issues with non-judgemental lenses will give us a better perspective to find and solve those issues. Separating a person’s race, class, religion, and/or gender from them is denying them as who they are. That way, it is impossible to help them in any way.