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When Did Feminism Become A Bad Word?

Most people become politically aware in middle school. That’s when you begin to see politics everywhere: in articles, discussions, commercials, and even posters on the side of buses. Within this political world are hundreds of controversial topics that have been argued about for decades. A prominent example of this is feminism.

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I was in sixth grade when I really discovered what feminism was. I enjoyed reading a lot, so it’s no surprise that most of my information came from articles. I like to be informed about what was going on in today’s society. At just eleven years old I understood the danger of ignorance, especially in a political argument. I did my best to avoid speaking on behalf of topics I didn’t understand. However, feminism was one thing I did. 

I started to speak up on behalf of my female friends whenever I noticed someone being sexist or making sexist remarks– the classic “go make me a sandwich” line. As we got older, the microaggressions grew into plain, hurtful comments. Whenever I tried to stay anything about it, I was deemed a “feminazi.” Some people would condescendingly inquire if my friends and I were feminists, as if it was something to be ashamed of. Admittedly, some of the girls I knew were ashamed and gave up their feminist identity. It was at this moment that I realized something had happened. The word feminism had become a dirty word. 

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First, it’s important to understand what the word inherently means. Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Notice how this definition doesn’t say anything about the superiority of women compared to men or the superiority of women’s issues compared to men’s issues. It simply states that feminists want equality. That proves that feminism is not a bad word. It is simply something that has been twisted over the years to fit different agendas. 

Although, as with most political stances or even religious beliefs, there are usually two ends of the spectrum. There is such a thing as radical feminism and there are women who believe strongly in it. Feminazi is an offensive term for a radical feminist. Radical feminists “call for a radical reordering of society in which male supremacy is eliminated…” The meaning of radical feminism differs from person to person. However, the belief’s inherent definition shows that radical feminists want to restructure society, which was built by the patriarchy. 

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At the very end of the spectrum, there’s another group of individuals that do believe in the superiority of women. Misandrists believe that men are inferior. Some may even believe that men are evil. Misandry sets back the feminist agenda as society is more keen to listen to those individuals to perpetuate a false pretense about the rest of us feminists. 

Misandrists have created a bad reputation for a whole community. However, we as a society are also at fault for negatively affecting the portrayal of feminism in the media. Misandrists are often shown on various platforms to represent the feminist agenda. Those in charge of providing us information do so in a biased manner that perpetuates false ideas. The spread of misinformation is a powerful, yet dangerous, disease that continues to plague the general society. It’s up to us to change the narrative by raising our voices so that the real feminist agenda may be heard. It’s time to restore the purity of the term “feminism” so that all young girls can say that they’re proud to be a feminist. 

Featured Image via ISO Republic

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