Isabelle Lutter Minnesota

The True Definition of 'Feminism'

Feminism is fighting for the equality of the sexes. In today's society, it means many different things for different people. We need to bring this term back to what it should be used for, and make a positive change, to issues surrounding inequality of the sexes.

Dear Future President,

“Feminist.” It’s such a controversial word. The dictionary definition is: “The Theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” (Webster Online Dictionary). With that definition I consider myself a feminist. However, often when I mention that I am a feminist, I get responses such as “So you hate men?” “Are you a lesbian?” “Feminism isn’t even relevant anymore.” I’m here to explain the true meaning of feminism, why it most definitely still is relevant, and why I choose to call myself a feminist. And I want you to speak out about these controversies because your voice will help to empower women to support each other, even when we don’t understand each other. Help people understand what feminism is.

“So you hate all men?” No, I don’t hate all men. I am not gender biased, or saying women are better than men. If that’s what someone believes, they aren’t a feminist. Feminism started as a fight for equality, equality does not mean one gender trying to take down another, it is simply that everyone lives with the same rights. Before the 19th Amendment was passed on August 18, 1920, women couldn’t vote. They couldn’t join the army, or work certain jobs, because men were considered stronger and more intelligent, which is scientifically untrue. Feminism is a major reason that we now have laws in place, causing women to have equal rights. Many people against feminism will argue that it isn’t relevant, or necessary anymore. What about women who aren’t in the US or Europe. The entire world does not revolve around us. The world would be nothing if people from different parts of the world couldn’t come together, and change what needs to be changed. In many parts of the world women can’t vote, women can’t work, and women are used as sex objects. (Newseum). Feminism is not selfish; it is women trying to help each other.

It’s also very important that people in developed countries with equal rights laws, such as the US, France, and Germany, understand why we still need the term feminist in today’s society. The original purpose of this word was meant to empower women of all types. The word is not meant to make us feel stronger or above anyone else. We already know that we are strong. And even though we are lucky to have the rights that we do, we aren’t getting 100% of the human rights we deserve. Because of the misuse and stereotypes of the word feminism, women who are attempting to use it to make a change for the better, are being torn down by it. For example, rape culture. 50% of rape cases are left blaming the victim (Vitamin News). We have political figures, speaking about women as objects of sex. Donald Trump, a presidential candidate, was caught using sexual slurs about women (Washington Post). There are so many rape cases that have been called unjust because it was “her fault.” Victims of rape and sexual assault will be majorly impacted by hearing someone in power say these things. Rape and assault are against the law, yet they still happen. Catcalling still happens on a daily basis. 27% of women report being assaulted by a stranger at least once a year (Harassment Statistics). The Wage Gap is the fact that the average comparison of women's and men's pay, is that women are earning 92% of men's hourly wages (The Washington Post). Some may say “but that's less than 10% more, what's the big deal?” Well most of this payment issue is due to gender biases that we are taught through the media, that have always been there. Using the word feminist makes me feel strong; and know that I don’t have to accept these societal norms.

“Gender stereotypes” what do you think of when you hear that phrase The first thing that comes to mind for me is pink and blue. Pink is for girls, blue is for boys. Why? Pink isn’t my favorite color. This goes along with so many other gender norms in society. There are still toys being sold at Walmart and Target called “girls cleaning set” and “little cleaning lady” (Huffington Post UK). Giving a girl a pink broom and some glitter to sweep up, and giving a boy a pilot figure toy, and a tiny police car, what messages are being sent? Women can be anything they want to be. We’re more than cleaning ladies. These items must be removed from stores. My question to women who aren’t feminists is “Doesn’t that make you mad?”

Saying that feminism ignores men’s rights is offensive and biased. Feminism fights for equality, how is that ignoring men’s rights issues? Once again, if you say that all men are monsters who treat women like objects, you are not a feminist. I think that we all deserve equality, not only in the US, but everyone in this world. I am empowered calling myself a feminist, isn’t that its purpose? Yes. I’m done being called a crazy lesbian, or a man hater. That’s not what I am, I am a lot more than that. Let’s make a campaign, and reform this word. Explain that women who think something about their status are not feminist. Doing that is just as bad as dragging women down because of their gender. Explain why we need feminism to help women who are suffering. This is what we need as a society.

Let’s make a change, Future President, and reform the word Feminist. Please consider these topics I have touched, although there are many more. We as a society, need to understand what feminism is, and why it’s still relevant. If you believe in total equality, you are a feminist. Please help me, and many other women, and men fighting for equality of the sexes!


Isabelle Lutter

St. Paul Central High School

Approaching Analysis - Hours 2 and 3

This is a sophomore honors class at St. Paul Central High School in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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