Feminism Isn’t A Dirty Word

Illustration by Kaley Peniche.

I don’t understand how “feminism” has become a dirty word. When I say I am a feminist, I get two reactions. The first one is a crowd pleaser— people laugh as if I blurted out a killer joke. They giggle as if the idea of me wanting gender equality is so hilarious and say, “Well women already have rights.”

They are right. We finally received rights after fighting for centuries. If you were a woman in the 1960s forget about owning a bank account. Women weren’t allowed to open a bank account without their husband’s or father’s permission. Also, forget about serving on a jury. Women couldn’t serve on juries because not being home taking care of the children and chores would be an inconvenience for their families.

The second reaction isn’t my favorite. It’s disgust. Some people hate that I am a feminist. Surprisingly, I’ve seen this reaction in other women. These people claim that I just want women to rule and be above men.

I know from both reactions that these people don’t realize how badly I need feminism. I need feminism because every day when I walk down the street I’m reminded that my body doesn’t belong to me. I see men lick their lips as they stare at me like I’m a piece of meat. I need feminism because the first time I was catcalled I was 11 years old. It was terrifying.  No young girl should ever have to go through that, but it seems that most women have their own catcalling story

I need feminism because when people find out a girl was raped one of the first things that they  dare to ask is, “Well, what was she wearing?” People don’t realize that clothes aren’t an invitation to be raped.

I also need feminism because whenever I try to explain that the reason that feminism exists is because of gender equality, some men say, “If women are equal I can punch you, right?”

It’s ridiculous how men say this because, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than one in three women in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner.

Men are already hitting women. We would like them to stop.

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