The New Feminist Movement

As you may or may not be aware, Miss Emma Watson recently gave an impassioned speech at the UN on gender equality.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest you do so now . . . go ahead, I’ll wait.  Click the image below, or–if you’d rather read the transcript–click here.

Emma Watson at UN

She brings up a very good point that I’ve experienced myself from time to time . . . the “shame” of calling yourself a feminist.

My mother raised me to believe that all people were equal, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, skin color, etc. and I’ve carried that on through my life (Thanks, Mom!).  But over the years, the word feminism got bandied about and was, for a while, used largely in conversations about lesbians.  Then, there was even the term “militant feminist,” which was WAY less appealing.  I’d heard some definitions of what a militant feminist was, and I began to question whether or not I wanted to be associated with that group.  So much so that even recently, when someone asked me if I was a feminist, I gently said “I’m not entirely sure what that word means anymore, but I think I am.”

But hearing Miss Watson’s speech helped clarify things for me.  I AM a feminist.  Thanks to her, I understand better that being a feminist doesn’t mean you’re a man-hater.  Which is comforting, because I’ve NEVER been that way.  I don’t even harbor a lot of the clichéd assumptions about the male gender.  Yes, I agree that–in many ways–men and women are wired differently in our brains, but that doesn’t mean that one sex is better than the other.  We both have strengths and weaknesses.

I was also glad to learn that feminism isn’t just about equality for women; it’s about equality for BOTH genders.  I’ve never been a fan of the concept that men “have” to like sports, or be closed off from their feelings, or shouldn’t cry, etc.  Regardless of what equipment you’ve got in your pants, you’ve got emotions roiling around in your head and heart.  Studies are finally showing the negative impact of raising a boy to “not be a sissy,” or to “toughen up.”  I know for me, when I’ve tried to hold my frustration or sadness or whatever in for too long and “toughen up,” I can actually feel my emotions boil hotter and hotter until I finally have to blow off steam.  Many times, a good crying jag helps.  It lets me release the built up tension inside.  I’m exhausted afterwards, but I’m also much more clear-headed.  It’s the clear-headed feeling that I love, and I now make myself cry by watching a sad movie when I feel the pressure building up inside.  Why would we EVER want to deny someone else that calming release just because of some antiquated definition of what a man “should” be?!

As for that stupid concept that a man who is in touch with his feminine side, or cries, isn’t a real “man,” or is gay, or whatever lame label people want to affix, my husband, Craig, cries at movies that touch him, is in touch with his feminine side (he’s even begun to notice when his monthly cycle comes on), and he’s DEFINITELY a “man!”  He loves sports (and is thrilled that football season has finally started up again), he loves to build things and tinker with mechanical objects, and he’s 100% NOT gay, thank you very much! This may be TMI, but our sex life is more fulfilling to me than any other “man” I’ve ever been with.

But back to Miss Watson and her wonderful, enlightening speech at the UN.  Not only has she helped me to be proud to call myself a feminist, but she’s also been inspiring others, as is evident in this letter a 15 year-old boy sent in to a newspaper in response to her speech.

I’m SO thankful that the younger generation is willing to see what many of the older generation doesn’t; that these stereotypical labels that were assigned to the sexes decades ago aren’t useful or helpful, and never have been!  And it’s not just women who are involved in creating this gender equality anymore, as seen in this clip by Joseph Gordon Levitt.  There are other male celebrities who are up to the task of getting rid of these stale stereotypes.  There are also LOTS of non-celebrity males who are up to the task, but I know that many people look up to celebrities as role models, so it’s nice to see them supporting something I can get on board with.

So the next time someone asks me whether or not I’m a feminist, I can gladly and proudly announce that, Yes, I am a feminist!  Because, it’s not about man-hating; it’s about erasing these degrading (for both sides) lines that keep us from truly accepting and understanding each other.


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