Has the Word Feminist Become a Bad Word?

Photo Equal Rights Amendment march in Chicago in 1978. Sun-Times file photo.

If you look up the word feminism in the dictionary, in layman’s terms the word means to advocate for women’s equal rights and interests. It is the belief that men and women should have the same opportunities regardless of gender. A powerful expression of woman empowerment transcending centuries worldwide. The first pioneers of feminism go as far back as the 1700s. Female writers, activists, and warriors who believed that women are more than a stand-in or decoration for a man in society. Women possess intelligence, poise, strength, and determination to realize meaningful pursuits in society, the same as men.  It truly is a wonderful ideal worth fighting for, and I stand by the voices that must be heard in the name of equality.

Society has come a long way from the days of women’s suffrage. However, it seems the significance of the word feminism has changed in recent years, not sure if it has been for the best. The period of females not having a right to vote or make decisions on their own children is behind us. The times of a man of the family is the sole decision-maker are no longer valid because we have power. Women have regained strength and are being heard. Unfortunately, the work never ends. The struggle for equality continues in the present time with a handful of men getting on board to support the movement. It is important that we recognize the sporadic efforts by the few who believe in feminists’ efforts.

BElatina Feminism
Illustration by Shyama Golden

Unfortunately, progress may be lagging in recent years. The word feminism seems to be somewhat of a cuss word these days. People are portraying the group’s beliefs to adopt the idea that men are the culprit for women’s challenges in society. The stigma invading today’s feminist movement may be harmful to its true purpose. Female supporters are being perceived as militant, anti-male and mildly hostile which is a drastic deviation from the true meaning of the word.

It is essential we learn to understand the history of feminism, as we look to the future. Women’s rights are necessary to preserve a fair and just society where we are not only shown respect but also treated as equals. Women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Gloria Steinem, Virginia Woolf, and Christine de Pisan plowed through a load of bias, indignity, and injustice to help inspire us to get where we are today. It is our responsibility to take the movement forward in the most sophisticated, carefully crafted manner ensuring voices are heard without having to blast the roof of the foundation. It may be preserving feminism in its purest form, which could be as important as the movement itself.