Points of view: Take a stand, use f-word

By Ashley Altus

Your mother won’t make you wash your mouth out with soap after saying this f-word, but declaring yourself as a feminist in my experience receives the same disbelieving looks. No, I don’t undertake in bra-burning rituals or think consensual sex between married couples is rape. I simply want equality.

I identify with the Merriam-Webster definition that feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

However, this definition has become warped as society associates radical feminists as representing the majority.

I think it’s evident by the general view of society that some people don’t know that feminism is broken up into many different branches.

Most of these branches derive from the core definition of feminism I mentioned earlier.

It’s radical feminism that stereotypes all feminism. Radical feminists believe the male supremacy oppresses women. These types of feminists want to overthrow the patriarchy instead of striving for equality in gender roles.

In a class I took during my sophomore year, one of my professors asked, “Who here is a feminist?”

I raised my hand and so did a few other women, but we were still the minority compared to the students claiming they weren’t feminists.

A popular excuse among the female population regarding their reason for not being a feminist was, “I’m not a lesbian.” The men leaned more on the side of, “I’m not a girl,” along with some insulting sexist jokes about women’s rights.

I have no interest in wanting a female or male dominance. Instead I aspire to eliminate the jokes I hear in class about women belonging in the kitchen.

While a man jokes about a women that needs to get back in the kitchen, I take that rhetoric as, “you belong in a position of servitude and dependence.”

When man refers to a woman in the kitchen, he’s thinking of her barefoot and pregnant with three kids running around in the kitchen, not a top chef at a restaurant making the same salary as a male chef.

According to the 2011 American Culinary Federation’s 2011 survey, significantly fewer women hold leadership positions than men in the culinary world.

The survey also found women earned $19,000 less then men. Maybe women do belong in the kitchen, but as a career choice and even when women do manage to climb to the top, they don’t make the same salary as the men.

Feminism isn’t just for women; it’s for men too. Any major social change women want to witness in issues like wage discrepancies, men need to change the way they relate to women to eliminate gender inequality.

Although a man can’t actually be a feminist because feminism is a movement for women by women, he can encourage and support the women in his life.

How could a man not want equality for his sisters, mothers, girlfriends and all the other women that have affected his life?

We shouldn’t cringe when woman or man utters the word f-word. We should embrace it as a movement for equality for both genders.

Ashley Altus is a senior business journalism major from West Palm Beach, Fla. She is a reporter for The Lariat.