I Am A Feminist Because…
It’s too important to be anything else
Opinion piece by Gabby Roppo
Photos Courtesy of Gabby Roppo
I am a feminist because there are some misunderstandings when it comes to third-wave feminism. Some people think third-wave feminism means burning bras and screaming until we’re heard (or made fun of). In reality, third-wave feminism began in the 1990s to restructure what feminism means. After the failure of second wave feminism to not recognize women of color, feminists wanted to reclaim their name and be more inclusive of different types of women. This is the wave of today’s time. It scares me to label myself as such in this third wave, the current wave, and the wave that is the most intersectional in history. I am a feminist because some people are too close-minded to attempt to understand third-wave feminism, and I want to build a bridge to help them.
“What are you still fighting for? What can a man do that you can’t in present-day America?”
I am a feminist because I took the time to educate myself. Gender and Society was the first sociology class I took as part of my Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies minor. The material shined a light on issues I hadn’t thought much about before, but always knew existed.
I had heard of inequality in the workplace, but hadn’t learned about it nor dealt with it first-hand. I am a feminist because according to the Fortune 500 list, only 5.4 percent is made up of female CEOs, meaning 94.6 percent of the remaining CEOs identify as otherwise. I am a feminist because women in the workplace are not yet equal to men. A study conducted by Northwestern, University of Chicago and Columbia University reported that when managers knowingly hire less-qualified candidates, two-thirds of the time it is a male. The same study also reports that managers are one-and-a-half times more likely to hire a male candidate as opposed to a female. I am a feminist because I am heading into the professional workplace. Qualified, but potentially seen as unequal.
I am a feminist because I have it easier than most, as a cisgender, white woman. I am a feminist because I strive for all-inclusivity. What waves of feminism prior to third-wave failed to achieve was including women of all races, women of all religions, women of all socioeconomic backgrounds, and women that simply weren’t cookie cutter at the time. I am a feminist because I don’t want cookie cutter to exist.
I am a feminist because I will use my position in society to elevate these issues instead of sit idly. I am a feminist because I felt I had cheated myself in years prior, not trying to fully understand gendered differences around the country and world. I was a sponge, soaking the information in bit by bit.
I am a feminist because I have put a magnifying glass on issues not many people are aware of. Sex trafficking, kidnappings, rape, assaults, even the ways different genders communicate their masculinities or femininities and why some egos are more fragile than others. I am a feminist to allow this information to seep out of me and into the world to make a difference. I am currently working on a sexual assault awareness campaign, to spread awareness high school-aged students. I will work to teach them how to be inclusive, how to be understanding, and how to share this information with their friends. I won’t let these issues go unnoticed. I will be vocal. I will march. I will speak to educate. I will work to make for a better future. I will do whatever it takes to make a change.
To be a feminist does not mean that I’m ungrateful for the opportunities I have right now. My predecessors paved a smooth trail for this generation. But they paved it smoothly so that I can keep on going, along with my like-minded fighters.
The real question is: “Why stop? Why be satisfied just because we’ve made progress?”
I still fight because third-wave feminism is for the battles not yet won.
I am a feminist because I am catcalled walking into a grocery store.
I am a feminist because I find safety in using my boyfriend as a shield to protect me against other predators, when my own strength should be enough.
I am a feminist because I clutch the pepper spray in my purse when I walk alone at night so tightly I’m afraid I’d be too slow to unclench my fingers if I actually needed to use it.
I am a feminist because I don’t want myself, or anyone else, to be another sexual assault statistic read aloud to college freshman at orientation.
I am a feminist because I dream of a day when sexual assault prevention isn’t something that has to be taught to college students.
I am a feminist because according to a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one of every 10 rape victims is male, meaning the rest identify otherwise.
I am a feminist because according to the same study, less than half of female sexual assault victims report their abuse to police. The same study reports that between 2005 and 2010, the primary reason women didn’t report their abuse was due to “fear of reprisal,” making up 20 percent of all unreported incidents. Other reasons were police couldn’t or wouldn’t help, victims were advised not to report and some victims believed their trauma was a “personal matter,” according to the study.
There are dozens of other reasons to consider oneself a feminist. Women of color may identify as feminist to raise awareness about the lack of their inclusivity. Women of minority religions may identify as feminist to raise awareness that there are many reasons to love, to listen and to understand. Women of lower-income families may identify as feminist to bring attention to the fact that not all families are given the same opportunities. Women and men alike identify as feminist. Their reasons are all personal to them and it would be impossible to list each reason someone may identify themselves as such. Not everyone’s reason is the same, and that’s OK.
I am a feminist because I am still made fun of for my beliefs and that isn’t right. I am a feminist because I want to help others be more accepting.
I am a feminist because I shouldn’t be afraid to tell people exactly that.