Viewpoint: Re-evaluate feminism

Rebecca BWBy Rebecca Flannery
Staff Writer

Feminism doesn’t mean we need to vote for Hillary.

Feminism doesn’t mean women should refuse kind gestures from men.

Feminism doesn’t mean wi thhol d i ng kind gestures from women.

Feminism doesn’t mean we should take the “man card” away from males.

Feminism means to advocate for equality of the sexes. That’s it.

With as much media attention the issue is receiving, it feels a bit redundant to write about. But I can’t shake the feeling that people don’t understand what feminism actually is.

To use a quote from the speech given by Emma Watson during her U.N. address, “fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.”

Likewise, I’d like to pose the opinion that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with woman-shaming.

If I don’t vote for Hillary Clinton, I’m not voting against equality. I’m voting against her platform. If I let men open doors for me or pay for my meals, I’m not laying down my ability to act for myself — I’m letting men be gentlemanly and treat me with respect. If a certain text uses masculine pronouns instead of gender-neutral, honestly why does it matter?

I’ve been in the feminist debate more than I’d like to admit. When I was in high school and a boy used the classic “sandwich in the kitchen” joke, I would have jumped at the opportunity to “set them straight” and tell them to make their own sandwich — scattered with a few expletives to boost. But really, what was I accomplishing?

I’ve realized since then that there are gender situations worth fighting for. Women in countries around the world are alienated for being women. They’re killed if they run away from their home in order to escape an arranged marriage to a man decades older than they are. Their babies are murdered or aborted if they are female. They are fearful they may be raped or mutilated in the street if they so much as look at a man.

Where are the sandwich jokes? Where is the question of holding doors and paying for meals?

I’m confused when we let feminism become an avenue to make women feel lesser for making a meal for a man.

At the same time, becoming equal with men doesn’t mean emasculating them. By seeking equality, it doesn’t mean we’re as much man as we are woman. I guarantee you, there are things men are able to do that I will never have the ability or willpower to accomplish. And vice versa.

Fighting for equality means we’re seeking the same rights as separate entities because we’re all equal parts human.

When we look at history, we see Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony fighting for the rights of women to go to school or vote. Those were situations worth fighting for. Those were issues worth taking a stand against, and they still exist today in hundreds of countries.

If I’m labeled as anti-female or anti-equality for these beliefs, so be it. I will make a man a sandwich every day of my life if it means one person understands it’s not the action that makes the female lesser; it’s the mindset.

Rebecca Flannery is a senior journalism major from Melissa. She is a staff writer and regular columnist for the Lariat.