How the definition of feminism has been skewed

Amy McNeel

What is feminism? According to Merriam-Webster, it is “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” This definition encompasses the original heart of feminism. However, as decades have passed and new rights for women have been obtained, the already subjective idea of feminism has changed drastically. 

When I think of the idea of feminism, I think of the dictionary definition. That is, I understand it to be the equality of both sexes. In no way is there a discrimination against men or a want for women to overpower their male counterparts. Instead, it is realizing that women are not always treated fairly, and neither are men, and as a society, we need to work together to help all genders attain the rights they deserve. 

Although this is a definition well-taught, it is evident that the term feminism is extremely subjective. People have a lot of differing thoughts about what feminism is, and these thoughts are all over the board. Many decades after the original movement, society has skewed the purpose and definition of feminism. 

Today, it seems that we have two outliers in relation to feminism: the hard-core, man-hating, overly sensitive, “I can do everything myself” type of “feminist” who gets angry when a man opens the door for her and, in effect, the hard-core, feminist-hating people who support movements such as #womenagainstfeminism.

In my opinion, these two extremes are incredibly absurd and ignorant. It seems that a lot of “modern feminists” today are the reason the term itself has a tremendously negative connotation. This is because some of today’s feminist movements are very different than what the movement was originally supposed to be. 

Feminism used to be about women and men obtaining equal rights, and in part that still is the focus but with a particular emphasis on targeting male behaviors. For example, acts of chivalry are now under fire: A man opening the door for a women or offering her his seat on a full bus is now sometimes perceived as a sexist act. 

In response to this skewed view of feminism, people have started to view the movement in a very negative way. This can be seen on the Women Against Feminism website, where women send pictures holding signs explaining why they do not need feminism. Some of the reasons on the website include “I’m free and happy,” “I respect all people, not just one gender” and “the men in my life love and respect me.” 

This very clearly conveys that people have the wrong interpretation of what feminism is, and this is probably due to the feminist extremists who have skewed what the movement is about.  

Yes, today a majority of women are free and happy, but we would not be if it weren’t for feminism. Inequality may not be the same today as it was when the movement first started, but it is still relevant for both sexes. As a society, we need to bring back the true identity of feminism instead of being held captive by a skewed view. 

So now, I want to make something clear: Feminism is not a hate movement against men. It is not the belittling of men. It is not the fight for female supremacy. It is not a fight against chivalry. It is not playing the victim. Instead, feminism is a fight for equal rights for all. It is the fight for equal pay. It is the fight for equal respect. It is the fight against gender roles. It is the fight for equal opportunities. It is a movement for the good of all.