Late on the night of Thanksgiving Eve I received a call from a friend I hadn’t spoken with in several months. Since it was Thanksgiving and all, it was time for family, indulgences, and honesty. He texted me the next day apologizing for the drunk dial, but I thanked him. Despite his inebriated influence in calling, it was refreshing to have an honest and open conversation with this friend.
This friend was telling his musician sister how he’d met a girl in Colorado who was a feminist. His sister’s reaction was immediate objection and shut-down.
“Oh gawd!” she said.
“No, not that kind of feminist. She’s a real feminist,” my friend said he explained to his sister.
Working on a story about women in music and having the privilege to interview so many genuinely talented, hardworking, and kind people over the past two months has made me realize many things, the least of which is that I love interviewing people. In a world which seemingly promotes less communication and genuine human connections as it creates bigger divides, the feedback I received in reaching out and speaking with everyone involved with this project was immense. The process allowed people to open up on the issue and I have learned so many different sides to this story; however I often had to stifle my own opinion in the process.
My friend went on to tell his sister about the project I was conducting. I don’t know whether he convinced her that what I was doing was a positive thing or not, but herein lies the rub:
Feminist is often construed as a dirty word in our current media-infiltrated world. Its purpose and meaning has been sullied over time. The demanding political, social, and physical work women have done for centuries and continue to do today is vexed by the natural progression of linguistics and convoluted modern day politics.
In conducting my research for this project, I looked into numerous scientific studies regarding biological differences between genders, societal expectations and media influences, and the resulting effects on girls’ and women’s self-esteem. In a world of internet trolls, critics, and feminist-bashers, showing scientific evidence for the need for equality should not be necessary, but it is. It’s necessary in a world where women are begging and screaming to be heard because they are told they are wrong – that they’re part of the problem. In our world of excess, the media has certainly gone overboard in its finger-pointing and blame-gaming; however, that certainly does not diminish the fact that inequality exists across a wide spectrum.
There are women screaming to be heard in a society that is selling their souls for cheap, degrading sexual lewdness and indecency. It’s a society telling them they are worth less than their abilities, minds, and goals. In modern day Western economies, businesses and industries are willing to give less than equal pay to different genders and races. Instead of talking about this, we bury the issue within the recesses of our societies. We shake our heads, scoff at the word “feminist” and say, “Ugh, not another one!”
Feminism is not a bipartisan issue, yet the media and society have fashioned it into one. Instead of looking at this word as an us-against-them term, why not approach it for what it means rather than what it sounds like. Etymology is interesting, but creating media warfare out of the issue of equality – especially out of a belief that women should be treated the same as men – is obscene.
“If you’re someone who genuinely believes that women don’t deserve or aren’t as much as men, you’re like the plague. On the big history chart, you’re the plague. It’s just pointless and deadly,” filmmaker Joss Whedon said at an Equality Now speech in November 2013. He opened that speech by saying “I hate feminist.” He meant the word, but clearly he’s not the only one.