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With Women’s Marches popping up all around the U.S. on the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s presidency and the amazing Gender Equality panel of the Youth Forum Switzerland, I reckoned it was time to write about feminism.

Now, if we look at the definition of feminism (some of you will be surprised by this) it doesn’t state: “A way of life in which women burn their bras and hate men.” It does, however, state “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Not a single word in that definition states that women want more rights than men. It should also go without saying that women are not the only ones marching for equality but men too. For some reason, people are afraid of calling themselves feminists. You are not signing up for a radicalised group of people who don’t shave or wash their hair, you are simply stating that you believe women should have the same rights as men. While not all men are sexist, all women face the impact of sexism in some way, so the point is that there’s a massive problem to be solved, and you can be a big part of the solution.

The reason why the word feminism has been given such a negative connotation is purely because we bestow that connotation upon it. Guys, why are you so afraid of saying that you want your mother, your sister, your friends to have the same rights as you? Girls, being a feminist doesn’t make you less attractive and if a guy deems that it does, he’s not worth your time. If enough people speak up not only for themselves but the voiceless, we could change the narrative on feminism and women’s rights. How do you think women got the vote? Had women not marched and fought to have people actually listen to them, we would be living in a very different world. The notion that feminism is a ‘battle of the sexes’ and is about blaming all men and setting up a ‘gender war’ is a handy, controversial media hook. But it doesn’t reflect reality. It’s not what feminists want.

Some people believe that gender disparity only exists in developing countries. While I love popping your privileged bubble, gender inequality exists everywhere. Not a single country is equal. To those of you who are Icelanders, you may smirk and know that your country is number one on the 20 Best Countries for Gender Equality list but you’re still not entirely equal. Inequality inevitably exists in the workplace. There are more male CEOs named John than there are female CEOs. It’s not that women aren’t qualified for the position. It’s just the way we have been raised, what kind of TV we watched, what toys we played with, comments we’ve heard from the people who raised us, comments made by our teachers. At the Youth Forum Switzerland, Cynthia Castro made us all shut our eyes and picture someone in a position of power. Most of us pictured a man. It’s not ‘going too far’ to demand equality so that the number of people choosing a man reduces and those picturing a woman increases.

Egalitarianism/Equalism/Equalist. I’ve heard these words over and over again. As this article puts it, “These people are either the ones who believe in the notion of feminism but don’t call themselves feminists because of the stereotypes associated with the word, or the ones who actually believe men face more discrimination than women, or the ones who think feminism equals the superiority of women.” I’m not a feminist but I believe in equal rights. I dislike it so much when people say this, you are a feminist because you believe in equal rights. Let’s look at why egalitarianism isn’t an appropriate word for the feminist movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, or any movement that represents marginalised groups. “The history of egalitarianism and humanism shows that women were basically left out of egalitarian campaigns. People did not understand that humanism means all people, men and women. In fact, even black people were left out. And in some extreme cases, non-landowning white men were excluded too. That is why it is necessary to have a separate movement for women — to acknowledge the fact that equality and empowerment for women are as important as they are for men. A separate movement does not mean that feminists believe women are superior. But it is necessary because women are generally the underprivileged sex.

The advantage that men have over women in today’s world is the standard that feminists strive to bring women up to”. Yes, we need egalitarianism but we need feminism just as much.

 

“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”- G.D Anderson.

So, ladies and gentlemen or if you go by another label then apply that one, let’s make the world a better place not just for women but everyone. The Women’s March Zürich is coming up and I’m walking it again, you can too. “I am a feminist.” Now say it with me.

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