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What it actually means to be a feminist

Warning: this article discusses sexual assault/rape. If that is upsetting or triggering to you in any way, do not continue to read.

What do you think when you hear the word “feminist”? A lot of you will probably cringe at the question. I mean, all feminists are vicious man haters who burn their bras and post rants to the Internet.

Maybe you think feminist is a bad word and refuse to refer to yourself as the title because you “love men, too.” Well, I am here to to tell you that those things are not what a feminist is.

“To me, feminism is the belief that all people, no matter their gender identity, should be given equal opportunities and more than fair treatment. It’s isn’t just about cis females; it’s about trans* females too. Feminism does not mean, ‘Oh since you believe in feminism, that means I can hit women, too, right?’ Feminism is decency and respect. Feminism is for everyone,” said junior Tory Talaga.

The definition of feminism is the belief that women should have social, political, and economic equality to men. That is it. If you believe men and women are equal, you are a feminist. Before you argue that it should be called “equalism”, just take a moment to look at the facts.

Gender discrimination happens every day in our society, whether through sexist comments or jokes, sexual harassment, violent actions, or any other act of hate aimed toward a person’s gender.

And let’s not mention the fact that women still get paid less than men. The pay gap has barely budged in a decade. In 2013, among full-time, year-round workers, women were paid 78 percent of what men were paid. Some states are even worse than others.

The gender pay gap affects all women, but is worse for women of color. Asian American women’s salaries are at 90 percent of men’s earnings. Hispanic women’s salaries are at 54 percent of white men’s earnings. Despite the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, this is still happening. (Shocker! Companies do illegal things!) If you believe this needs to be changed, you are a feminist.

Then, of course, there is the fact that, statistically, nine out of 10 sexual assault victims are female (50 percent of whom are trans* women). Sixty-eight percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, and 98 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail.

While males can also be victims of rape, the risk of being assaulted is far higher for women. This is due to the the treatment of rape or similar topics in our society.

Rape jokes are thrown around like they mean nothing, which easily desensitizes people to the reality of assault. Many believe women are “asking for it” due to the clothes they wear, which takes away the blame from rapists. If you believe this needs to be changed, you are a feminist.

“I think feminism is giving women equal rights. Women don’t have it easy. We have less pay. We always receive sexist comments. Plus, all you ever hear on the news are stories of women being raped and killed for not wanting to date someone. Feminism is really important,” said an anonymous student.

Despite what you may have believed before, this is what feminism is.

How does feminism affect your lifestyle? Do you consider yourself a feminist?

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