Word Association: Feminism

The word “Feminism” means different things to many students at RPA. While the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of feminism is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” Students interviewed had very different understandings of the word. Noah Mancino emphasized that “there are many different people who call themselves feminists with radically different philosophies.” and Karla Mora agreed that “there are different types of feminism; I think feminism should be a meeting of all women, not just the individual women’s movements within feminism.” Based on the dictionary definition, everyone I interviewed was a feminist. While the definition is straightforward, the way people define it is much more complicated.

Many believe that feminism is misnamed. Maya Stewart noted that the term had social implications based on the term’s root word: female. “I wish it wasn’t called feminism because it seems more just towards women than equal rights. I feel it should be changed and should just be called equal rights.” said Stewart.

Those I interviewed mentioned that many things were labeled feminism incorrectly. Stauney Adams said “There are the equalists that think they know better than the feminists because they misinterpret feminism as hating men instead of what it is.” Occasionally feminism is used as an umbrella term for many ideologies that are similar to feminism, but are not quite correct. Things like white feminism (Karla Mora) and misandry (Kim Downey) are often portrayed as being views of feminists, when really they are exclusive of specific people; which is not a view of feminism at all.

Feminism is a sub-movement in equality; a topic most everyone supports eagerly. Somehow this connection has not made a difference though, and a topic as simple as feminism becomes fogged with incorrect assumptions about the topic. Feminism is not hard to understand, and easily agreeable with many at RPA. We know now why it is perceived as complicated and now we can aptly say that it is a cause worth supporting, despite its befuddling reputation.

Erin Cork