On Defining Feminism

3 years ago
I can't remember the first time I heard the word Feminist - whether it was in a history textbook chapter about women fighting for the right to vote, or whether it was an insult shouted on a playground.  I do know I've heard it in both contexts, and in a thousand others as well.  From my mother, telling me about how she marched in Washington for equal rights.  From books I've read over the years, loving every page.  From television shows, and blog articles, and friends and classmates. 

But even though I've grown up with the word being a part of my vocabulary, I don't know if I could easily define it.  If you were to Google "feminism," I'm sure you'd find a hundred different definitions - plenty of them not so positive.  Urban Dictionary would probably have more, and I'm sure that if you asked 50 different people to tell you, you'd get 50 different definitions of the word "feminism."  Because the word means something different to everyone, and the only definitions I'm willing to reject are the cruel ones.  The kind that say feminists are man-hating bra-burning psychos.  That is a definition I can quickly and easily disregard.

But the rest?  For me, there's so much that goes into feminism.  It's the whole-hearted belief that we all deserve equal rights - not just women and men, as two separate categories.  But the LGBTQA community as well.  Every race, every color, every country.  It's why the idea of the men's rights movement makes me laugh because, well, isn't that repetitive?  Because isn't feminism the idea that everyone deserves equal rights, and simply pointing out that some groups already have those rights while others don't?

For me, feminism is an ongoing process.  A verb, not a noun.  It is the act of continually fighting so that this world is good and fair and safe for everyone, not just a select few.  It is the whole-hearted and never-ending belief that - God or no God - we were all created equal.  Or that if we weren't, we became equal in the thousands of years since we first stepped foot on this planet, and that it is our one absolute duty in life to ensure that we treat one another as such.

Feminism is a belief system, one that I choose over Catholicism or Buddhism or Judaism or anything else.  It is the faith that humanity is good, and completely worth fighting for.  That starting a fight is not a bad thing if you're arguing for a good reason.  That there are good fights out there, and feminism is one of them.  And it needs to be fought in every corner of the world, because as much as we've worked, there's still more work to be done.

So what is feminism to you?  I want to know.  I want to have a conversation, and hear how you define a word that we've all heard a thousand explanations for.

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