Embrace the ‘F’ word

The “F” word: a dangerous word that, when spoken, elicits arguments and creates bad feelings. Women speak of it softly, and men do not speak of it at all. Society tells me that, as a woman, I shouldn’t discuss the “F” word. No self-respecting women use the “F” word, let alone identifies with it.  Women should be docile, sweet, maternal and unquestioningly complacent.

And yet, here I am. I don’t like perfume, I think Starbucks is an overpriced waste of water and I prefer watching “Star Wars” to the latest episode of “The Bachelor. My name is Dana Drosdick, and I am a feminist.

That’s not to say, though, that feminists cannot be docile and sweet. I’m a feminist and I still wear the color pink and love to dress up. I’m a feminist and I do not hate men. I’m a feminist and I don’t want women to take over the government and form a matriarchy. I simply want equal rights and a mutual respect between the genders. That is what a feminist is and should be.

Many people tell me feminism is dead and no longer needed. Women have the right to vote and get a variety of jobs, right? Isn’t that enough?

According to the Department of Labor, “In the fourth quarter of 2015, median weekly earnings for full-time female workers were 80.4 cents for every dollar earned by full-time working men.” If equality is “established,” why does this continue to happen? Why is the wage gap worse, still, for non-white women?

According to the AAUW (American Association of University Women), African American women at the same job earn 63 percent of a white male’s earnings and Hispanic women earn a mere 54 percent. If nothing else, these numbers should prove, without a doubt, that feminism is not dead. This is not history. This is happening now.

We need feminism now almost more than ever. However, there is a crucial flaw in the feminist movement: it lacks overwhelming male support. That’s not to say that there are no male feminists, nor is it to say that most men are opposed to feminism. In fact, I have found that many men do, in fact, agree with the idea of gender equality. Why, then, are men not a part of the feminist movement?

Part of the lack of men in the feminist movement is caused by fear of the word. Some men fear the feminist movement because they feel it fights for female superiority. Others feel it is “gay” to support a movement empowering women.

That alone, though, does not account for the noticeable absence of men in the feminist movement. I believe that it is lack of awareness. Men are the majority. They don’t help because they don’t feel the hurt. If a person does not feel the effects of oppression personally, it is easy to ignore it as an issue entirely.

Women have come so far. Anyone can see this simply by looking at the impressive list of women celebrated in March, Women’s History Month. A famous quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich states, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” These women that we celebrate broke free from societal constructs, and they are a testament to the progress we have made.

However, all this progress can, and will, regress if the feminist movement continues to lack male support. So, to the men and women that still feel uncomfortable by the word: if you are afraid, conquer your fear. If you are unaware, I urge you to listen and to learn.

It is time to rebrand feminism. Feminism must incorporate men into this movement, for it cannot survive without them. It is only when men and women can work together for the feminist movement that equality can be truly achieved. And by equality, I mean equality for all women: hispanic, white and African American women alike. Join the movement, and, please, learn to embrace the “F” word.