So you’ve decided to become a feminist, haters be damned and #yesallwomen forever? Cool! So happy to have you. Now please hand in your razor, bras, makeup and the testicles of your latest love interest.
But if no razors, bras, or makeup feels right, don’t fight it.
So how does feminism work? How do you become/act/kick ass like a feminist? The first and only step is to believe in the equality of the sexes. To kick ass, you must be educated—while equal rights for every woman is our main goal, there’s much more to know: books, vocabulary, rules, resources and, of course, where to get the best t-shirts.
This is by no means is an all encompassing guide, but hopefully it’ll get you started!
Official Definitions of Feminism (with links!)
- The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
- The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities
- Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. – bell hooks
- Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. – Marie Shear
Feminism as a Bad Word
Feminism has had a negative connotation for a very long time – too long! It started being frowned upon toward the end of the 19th century when women began demanding rights in an organized movement. But who would slander such a beautiful movement? The phrase “feminism” was used with snide distaste by men and women at the time who didn’t believe that women should have equal rights. They thought if they could make the image of feminism unappealing, they could stifle the movement. The opposition to feminism is over 100 years old. Surprisingly, it doesn’t come from hate: it comes (mostly) from men’s fear of losing the privileges they’ve come to expect in society. What else were they scared of? Check out this quote…
It seems that they were scared of… everything? This quote was not the first anti-feminism propaganda nor the last, but I think it’s fitting for one reason: it encompasses the idea that most people who are scared of feminism have absolutely no idea what feminism is about. I’ve never heard of any SANE person murdering their children in the name of feminism. As for witchcraft, I think that’d be hella cool.
Things Feminists Are NOT
Feminism has gotten bad press for a very long time due to fear of change. The time it spent in the media dunce corner gave it some fun, inaccurate stereotypes (witch and child killer, anyone?). After doing some very insulting research on the web, I bring you some of the most common misconceptions about feminism and proceed to tear them into pieces. Read my full article about it here.
Things Feminists Are
We’ve explored some of the things that feminists are not, so let’s explore the things they are!
Feminists are people who believe that women deserve to have the same rights and treatment as men in society.
That’s really it!
Beyond that, feminists are real, relevant people who are upset about the injustices toward women in society. Feminists can be children, parents, old, young, monogamous, poly, straight, queer, asexual, any race and ethnicity, anywhere around the world, partners, lovers, a mixture, or something in between. Feminists can be human rights activists, civil rights activists, LGBTQ activists, or not define themselves as an activist at all. Feminists can fall anywhere on the traditional beauty norm spectrum – aesthetics don’t matter.
What does matter is that feminists believe that women deserve to have the same rights and treatment as men—and there’s a whole fucking lot of us.
*Also see dictionary definitions for fierce and fabulous.
1. Believe that every woman deserves gender equality.
That’s right friends. The only rule to feminism is that you believe that women are (and therefore, should be) equal to men. That’s it. No need to throw out your razors, become a lesbian, or burn your bras—unless you want to. You can dress how you want, date who you want, primp however you want and have whatever job you want. As long as you are willing to fight for women’s equality, no matter what those women look like, speak like, or are able to do.
Developing as a Feminist
There are a couple phases one goes through as they’re finding their feminist-self and developing their beliefs. They aren’t the same for everyone, and they aren’t always in the same order. It’s kind of like the stages of grief, except you’re grieving the injustices of society, and, in advance, for all the patriarchy you’re going to annihilate.
There are actually multiple well researched studies that document different stages of coming to terms with injustice. One is “From Passive Acceptance to Active Commitment: A Model of Feminist Identity Development for Women,” which lays out 5 stages of feminist development. It’s really powerful, and very true to experience. Read my full article on it here. Editor’s Note: It’s an awesome read!
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books on feminism. Some of the first being written in the 19th century. This list compiles books from the most recent wave of feminism, but there are more on the history of feminism in another article! In my personal feminist education, I decided to start backwards from most recent wave. If you wanna start from the beginning (I hear it’s a very good place to start), here’s a list of classics!
Not the book reading type? Want the latest feminist news, critique and commentary? Check out these highly recommended blogs.
There are tons of sites for feminist wear out there. I picked a few favorites. I’ve ordered with RedBubble and Human before and was happy with the service. You also might recognize the FCKH8 logo from the videos they’ve been doing with the cussing princesses. Can’t decide which slogan to get first? “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” is a classic. Happy Shopping!
Now that you have been welcomed, my new feminist friend, it’s time to develop your own view of feminism! Remember that the only rule is that women rule… and so do men! Never forget that feminism means equality: the pursuit of equality regardless of genitalia or gender identity. It’s inter-sectional too! If you’re a racist/agist/ableist/look-ist feminist, then you aren’t really a feminist. Feminism wants equality for all.
So pick up a book! Follow some blogs! Follow SGP and me on Twitter! Buy some killer t-shirts! Above all, join the discussion. We need as many voices as we can get to make a change, and I want yours to be one of them!
Once you start to see the injustices in society, it is very hard to get it out of your head—which is probably a good thing, because we should be angry about the injustice. The author takes NO responsibility if you find it overwhelming because, hey, she does too! If it gets to be too much, you can always learn more, write about it (including for SGP!), tweet about it, help others who are facing injustice, and take action! I promise, it helps.
Sources beyond those stated above:
Purnell, Latayna. I Think I Am a Feminist: A Study of Feminist Identity Development of Undergraduate College Women. N.p., 2006. Web. 16 Dec. 2014