Recently, I've seen a lot of posts on Facebook and Tumblr regarding the Anti Feminist movement and it's really started to bother me. I'm a staunch feminist, and even though it took me a little while to fully understand that the term wasn't a bad one, I'm proud to call myself a feminist. What I'm not proud of however is the misconception that so many people have made about feminists being an exclusive bunch of bullies, and the small percentage of people who are outspoken bullies that identify as feminists.
To me, feminism is about inclusion. My feminism is the belief that everyone, regardless of gender or orientation or colour, is created equal and deserves the same respect and opportunity. My feminism is the passion and belief that we can live in a better world, that we can teach our kids to respect and care for their peers, and to stand up against injustice and unfairness. It is the hope that girls will feel safe enough to walk down the street at night without keys between their fingers or their thumb poised to dial an emergency contact. It is the hope that boys will not be afraid to speak out when they experience sexual violence for fear of being told that they should be happy they got laid. It is the hope that people will not experience the terror of the threat of violence no matter their gender identity.
Most of the posts on the Women Against Feminism Tumblr feature a variation of the phrases 'I am not a victim' or 'I do not believe women are better than men' or 'these women don't speak for me', and that's what makes me feel so sad. The feminist movement is what's given women the freedom to express their views, whether they're aligned with feminism or not, and I think that the people who are so vehemently opposed to a movement that presents women as victims and men as demons and triumphs one gender over another are the kind who would really dig a movement that encourages equality, fairness, and justice for everyone - the kind of movement that feminism is at it's core.
When you clear away the misinformation and nasty assumptions, feminism is about maintaining freedom and progressing further as a society. It's about empowering people, and letting every voice be heard. It's not about playing the victim or man hating. It's not about making women the dominant gender. It's about dismantling the damaging ideas and expectations that we hold regarding women and their role in the world. It's about encouraging girls to see themselves as brain surgeons, CEO's, stay at home mothers, anything they want to be, and giving them the tools to get them there. I am so thankful to the women of first and second wave feminism for everything they fought for and the opportunities that I now have, and I will continue to fight to make women's voices heard, even if they're anti-feminist, because everyone deserves the freedom to express themselves and a better, safer world.