During a car ride with some of my friends, one of my guy friends asked me about my involvements at school. I answered that I am a part of FEM staff, “UCLA’s feminist magazine.”
He paused in confusion and proceeded to ask me a few seconds later, “You’re a part of a feminist magazine? That’s so random.”
In confusion myself, I didn’t know what he meant by that. “What do you mean it’s random?”
With a criticizing, demeaning attitude, he replied, “It just seems like you’re hopping on the feminist trend.”
I knew he would refuse to listen to my input, so I discussed this out loud for the entire car to hear. I turned to another friend beside me and said, “People who are against the feminist movement probably have a misunderstanding of what feminism really is.”
I continued to say that feminists are not man-haters, are not only concerned with women’s rights issues and are not made up entirely of women. Feminism embodies fighting against patriarchy in any form, not men. In my defense, I included, “I’ve advocated for women in the past and will continue to do so. To say that I do not support feminism is basically saying I’m against women obtaining the same privilege as men…why would I be against my own gender, especially?”
“…Uh, okay. I guess.”
He believed people only supported it because it was becoming a “trend.” This, the idea that people were only a part of the movement because it is seen as a trend, was frustrating.
“I don’t believe feminism is a trend, but what would be so wrong with feminism if it were trending?”
To my knowledge, a “trend” is something that is popularized for a period of time and eventually comes to an end. People grow tired of trends. Therefore, feminism is not a trend. Modern feminists aren’t going to wake up one day and think, “Feminism isn’t as popular now. I’m going to stop advocating for women.”
There have been too many influential figures, such as Taylor Swift or Susan Sarandon, who have distorted the concept of feminism. Because of this, this generation has held onto the wrong idea of feminism (one of which, feminism being seen a trend.)
Feminism isn’t a trend and it’s not going to go away like fads, fashion or how technology might. It’s not the latest gadget to have or the latest Michael Kors watch. It’s not competing with Vogue’s Fall 2015’s “Pretty in Plaid,” bag embellishments, or the Pastel look. Feminism can get a boost from celebrities who identify as feminists, but its goal isn’t temporary. However, if feminism were to gain more popularity and was continued to be seen as a trend, I don’t see the problem with more people joining the feminist movement.
I don’t see the problem pressuring publications to include more voices of women, people of color, gender non-conforming people, and all who are underrepresented and misrepresented. There’s nothing wrong with supporting women in the workforce or supporting the belief that women should receive equal pay for equal work. There’s no problem supporting the idea that women have control over their own bodies. (If you believe otherwise, then yes, you definitely do not support feminism.)
Feminism says that it is not okay that there are victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment, or sexual assault. Again, I fail to see the problem with feminism. Feminism says all of these things and more; yet, it is still criticized. Is it only criticized because it’s gaining attention and people are straying away from what is considered “popular,” so they don’t seem as if they’re following the crowd? Is this criticism all about being a follower?
We must destigmatize the term feminism by educating the public, our peers, about what feminism entails. There is nothing to be ashamed about when supporting the feminist movement. Feminism is not a trend, but if someone is willing to understand and grasp its depths, there is nothing wrong with promoting feminism and increasing its popularity.
The problem isn’t the feminist movement gaining followers, the problem is the stigma on the concept of feminism.