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Don’t fear feminism

Unnecessary dread surrounds word, concept

Actress Shailene Woodley holds an interesting view on gender issues — according to TIME Magazine, while she firmly believes in gender equality, she does not consider herself a feminist.

I personally respect the view of believing in equality but not being a feminist. However, I do not agree with the unhealthy fear of the word feminism. Why is the word feminism or anything related to the word treated as a form of swearing? Almost everywhere I go I see the negative connotation associated with feminism. Both in the real world and on the internet, I see people treating the word as if it has venom within it. In school, I see friends of mine — perfectly sane people — go from cheery to almost angry at the mention of feminism.

In truth, I do understand why people seem to associate the word with two different meanings. Merriam Webster defines the goals of feminism as both the equality of the sexes and the advocacy of the rights and interests of women.

While most decent people would agree with the idea of gender equality, I can see why some people who associate feminism with the second definition wouldn’t like the word. If the goals of feminism are so focused on the interests of women to the point that it becomes just unchecked retribution, then more conflict would occur.

Nonetheless, the differing definitions only validate disagreeing with the word “feminism,” not completely hating and fearing the idea. There are people who strive for the ideal of gender equality, however, they don’t believe in the word feminism. In fact, according to a poll from the Huffington Post, only 20 percent of people say they are feminists even though many others say they believe in gender equality. That alone is fine and I don’t really care what word people want to use. However, being afraid and hating the word is completely unnecessary.

Fearing an idea, such as feminism, tends to lead to hatred of all involved. Hatred born of fear can only lead to more pointless arguments. From my perspective, the irrelevant “men versus women” debates are mostly negative and annoying.

The word and idea of feminism in no way deserve the negative connotation and hate. Even though people who mask their hatred of men as feminism do exist, they don’t represent the majority. People should start thinking for themselves and criticizing individuals they do not agree with, instead of the movement as a whole. In the end, gender equality is something we should all strive for, and once people do, the names used for the movement shouldn’t matter. Mere words pale in importance compared to the ideas behind them.

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