I have a friend who is currently an intern at a prominent magazine targeted for young women. Not only am I INCREDIBLY JEALOUS, but I also enjoy getting to answer many of the research-related questions she poses on Facebook.
However, the other day, there were two questions that especially caught my interest because they covered an area in which I am passionate: feminism. To paraphrase, the questions asked: 1) What is Miley Cyrus’s effect on feminism 2) If a woman still needs a man if she has a career and her own money.
The questions bothered me immediately, and I wasn’t sure why, so I spent some time trying to better understand my thought process and reasoning for having this particular belief. Looking at the basics brings up good question: how do I define feminism? Why do I care so much about it? And why did her second question immediately make me angry?
I’ve posted my response to her questions below (maybe if I’m lucky you’ll see them in a magazine!), but I’d also like to have a conversation; tell me your opinion! I’m not trying to steal the magazine’s idea – you’ll see it soon enough – but I do want to join the discussion. I believe that just like so many areas in our life, we can easily jump on a cause because we know it’s good, but in order to compel others to also support that cause, we have to know why it’s good.
To me, feminism just comes down to a constant quest for equality. I refuse to let my gender define what I can and cannot do, or should and should not do. My talents and abilities should be the sole determination in that. As for Miley Cyrus, I hate that we put so much emphasis on one individual and how they are affecting a movement. She’s not a policy maker, she’s not a judge; she’s a girl who is making her own life decisions, whether we deem them good or bad. The fact that we choose to put so much emphasis on one person and their “poor” decisions, shows that feminism isn’t where it can be. Everyone, male or female, famous or not, should be able to make their own choices and not have it scrutinized and labeled as a setback for an entire gender. We’re stronger than that! If you want to help the cause, talk to policy makers and help shrink the wage gap or go out and show people what you yourself can do as a young woman and individual. Real equality will come and feminism will win when everyone has the same opportunities for success. Who has the biggest power to get our society to that point? It’s not just celebrities…it’s us.
As for needing a man, I can’t believe this question is still being asked. Whether an individual chooses to share his or her life with another person should not be dependent on a lack of a career or money, but on trust and love. The fact that we still even wonder if a woman “needs” a man when she has her own career and income shows that we still have a antiquated sense of thinking that the man of the house is the breadwinner. This isn’t always the case anymore, and no one should be feeding into this unjust thought process by acting as if this question should still be relevant today. Further, as a whole, our society has come to be more accepting of all types of relationships – heterosexual and homosexual. A question that only raises relationship questions in a heterosexual sense is disregarding the experiences and viewpoints of those in same sex relationships.
So, let’s talk! What do you think? How would you answer those questions? What would you change about my answer? Are you a feminist, identify as something else, or completely hate the cause? What is important to YOU?