Women’s rights are human rights.

It seems that whenever you tell someone you’re a feminist, it’s met with faces of disapproval. But why is that? What made people envision feminism in a negative light when it’s supposed to be a positive thing?

Person in hoodie holding black sign that reads "Girls just wanna have FUNdamental rights"

There are a few common misperceptions about feminism that contribute to the negative reputation it has built:

  1. Some men think feminism means they will lose their ‘power’
  2. Feminism is often associated with strong, forceful and angry women
  3. Feminism is associated with women bashing men

In Canada, there are still many problems facing women. In terms of not getting equal opportunities as men, it’s clear women aren’t viewed as equal. To this day, women in Canada make an approximate 69 cents for every dollar a man makes. This astonishing number worsens depending on a woman’s ethnicity. Even worse, Indigenous women are paid an estimated 65 cents for every dollar a man makes. This just isn’t right.

The wage gap exists, no question about it. However, many remain simply unaware of its extent. Gender bias is still present in today’s day and age no matter how hard people may try to avoid it. This conversation needs to happen. Luckily, this where feminism comes into play.

Feminism is defined as, “the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes” with the goal of targeting the systemic oppression that women face on a daily basis. Despite what many think, the goal of feminists is not to belittle men or perceive women as the superior sex. Instead, what feminists want is to be treated equally, with the same respect as men.

It comes to no surprise based on what we’ve become accustomed to from a young age that when someone in a position of power is mentioned, we often think of men. It is a fact that men hold more positions in leadership roles than women, despite women having the same qualifications.

Men holding banner that reads "Men of quality respect women's equality"

The hatred of feminists mostly comes from men with innately sexist ideologies that believe they are superior based on how the world has worked for ages. This is NOT OK. The world needs to change to promote equality and debunk the misogynistic ideologies that women are inferior to men solely because of gender, biological or not.

Understandably, women and men are different. That doesn’t mean that one gender should be treated worse than the other. The world is growing and changing at a rapid rate and it’s time people change their ideologies along with it.

Of course, there will always extremists who escalate things, but we shouldn’t generalize ALL feminists to be this way.

To combat the injustices placed upon women on a daily basis we must acknowledge and speak up against the gender stereotypes that are present within the media. Luckily, the world has become more mindful when it comes to its portrayal of women. Steering past older misogynistic ideologies that were often found in fairy-tales, newer films portray strong women in roles without a male love interest. We all grew up watching fairy-tales portray us as weak and vain people whose sole purpose is to be saved by a man. Instead, we’re now getting movies with strong and complex female leads which is a step in the right direction.

Woman holding sign reading "respect all women"

Unfortunately, since we’re conditioned into thinking a certain way since the day we’re born it’s hard to think of the world any other way. This alludes to the importance of combatting these stereotypes that dictate women to act a certain way while men, another. From birth, we are conditioned how to act, speak and live. We’re often placed into gender roles without even noticing. Being taught that women need to wear pink and be “feminine” while men can’t is extremely toxic.

Society has placed these ideologies within our heads and forced us to believe it’s normal. We shouldn’t be forced to abide by these norms and, instead, make our own norm where all are equal.

The main point that feminists try to get across is that the way the world and the way women are being treated worldwide is NOT enough and NOT acceptable.

The harsh reality is that women all over the world are suffering through oppression and injustices because of their gender. Women suffer a great amount of sexual violence because of the toxic environment that has become so normalized. Instead of continuing these misogynistic ideologies, we have the power to advocate for women.

We have the power to change the way the world is viewed for future generations. Education is key, so educate people on feminism and urge them to become one.

Fight for the change we need in the world, no matter how hard or intangible it may seem.

For us and for the women of our future.

If you are ever in need of guidance, feel free to stop by the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre.

If you would like to advocate against sexual violence against women check out the Consent is Sexy crew!

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