I’m Not A Feminist But…

Do you believe that women should have the right to:


Then you are a feminist.

Go to college?

Then you are a feminist.

Drive a car?

Then you are a feminist.

Have access to birth control?

Then you are a feminist.

Own their own house or apartment?

Then you are a feminist.

Have access to as many opportunities in the workforce as men, and get paid the same as men when they do the same work?

Then you are a feminist.

The questions above are all basic and ones in which many would agree. However, we come to a halt in the road; why in today’s society are so many people embarrassed to classify themselves as a feminist?

Many are scared to slap on the label of being a feminist so instead they use the disclaimer of, “I’m not a feminist, but fill in the blank with a pro-feminist belief”.  Wait, what? They believe that women should have rights equal to men, but don’t believe they are feminists? Is it because they are embarrassed of the negative stigma that surrounds the label? Or is it because many are unaware that their beliefs are aligned with those of feminism?

First, you have to take a step back and understand the ideas behind the term. The basic definition of feminist is “persons whose beliefs and behaviors are based on feminism.”  

The definition was taken from answers.com and is virtually helpless when describing a feminist. I found a definition of feminism from Cezanne Colvin that sums it up in a more casual sense as, “Embracing femininity and demanding the world embrace it the way they have embraced masculinity for most of our history”.

So, back to the dilemma. After thinking about the first set of questions and taking into consideration the definitions, why do so many cringe and dart off every time they hear the word feminist? If it wasn’t for feminism we wouldn’t be in the position we are today and have the position and freedom to continue to fight for equality for all women. However, today’s society has placed a stereotypical image around feminists.

The word feminist may bring to mind a picture of a butch woman who doesn’t shave and hate’s men. Or it may be an over-achieving woman with no husband or children who whines about everything. And what about men? No one ever gives a second thought about a man being considered a feminist. These images couldn’t be any further from reality.

The stereotypical image of a feminist has been reinforced in our minds and is one of the causes of the fear of labeling. Like with most labels, many feel that if claim to be part of the group, then you must exhibit all of the stereotypical images perceived as part of that group. Wrong.

I guarantee that if you would ask any woman on the street the questions from the beginning, they would answer yes to every single one. You have yourself a feminist. That woman may not fit into any of the stereotypes described above, or even want to label herself as a feminist, but she is. Man or woman alike, you need to throw stereotypes out the window and look to the true meaning behind feminism; believing that women should be empowered and equal in all aspects of society.

 You are a feminist. Be proud.

 –Ashleigh Mavros, Student Outreach Coordinator


About Ohio U Women's Center

The Ohio University Women’s Center serves and responds to the needs of OU women students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the community. Founded in 2007, the center is dedicated to creating an inclusive and welcoming campus climate for all members of the community through programs, resources, referrals, advocacy, and education. Located in Baker University Center 403.
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