Feminism, that most oft misunderstood of movements

What is feminism? We were asked to share our definition at the last Woman's Action Coalition club meeting.

I thought back to earlier this semester, when a friend had seen a WAC advertisement and said, "I hate them!" Truly, there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be a feminist, and what it means to want equality in a country where everyone can already vote, get jobs and ride buses.

I don't get offended when people assume I am a "femi-nazi," but I do get frustrated by people who are unwilling to try to understand what feminism can be.

I don't think that all women need to be better than men, or that power in the world needs to be exactly divided up 50/50. If a woman wants to stay at home and raise her children (as my mom did), she should have that choice. She should also, however, have the choice to work, to never have kids or to do anything she wants regardless of her "gender classification."

Feminism does not only apply to women. It encompasses the choices and freedoms of everyone: women, men, genderqueer, straight, gay, etc. A man can manage a business, but he should also have the choice of being the at-home parent without fear of harsh judgment from others.

I think a lot of feminism misunderstanding is due to gender roles that have been assigned to us for so long that we forgot we were not inherently born with them; we forgot we have a choice.

Advertisements, television and movies barrage us with images of the perfect girl, perfect boy and perfect relationships. The wives lovingly clean up after their families while wearing pearl necklaces, the boys play sports and the girls play with their Barbies.

It's what we can be, but certainly not what we must be.

Many gender issues occur at a small level of which we are not even consciously aware. Studies performed by professors Myra and David Sadker of Oregon's New Leaf All-Girls Academy show that teachers call on boys more quickly, more often and are more likely to praise them for correct answers. The teachers aren't doing this on purpose, but merely acting out on a smaller level of a larger concept taught to them by our culture.

While worrying about wars going on in the rest of the world, don't forget the battles that lay beneath our very interactions. I'm sorry, but I do not want, and do not need, to be the stereotypical girl that Facebook quiz results or cereal commercials suggest I should be.

The world does not easily fit into simple binary packaging and we should not force the fit. Feminism is about the freedom to be yourself.

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