Complex social movements are tough
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
I’m as feminist (or, if you consider feminism to be a female-only movement, pro-feminist) as the next guy. In fact, probably more than the next guy. Anyone who knows me can vouch that my actions, social media posts, and penned articles advocate for the rights and empowerment of women. Feminism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities” and “organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests.”
I think feminism is really important, but I don’t devote all of my time to it. I’ve never taken a class on women’s or gender studies. I don’t know the finer points of feminist theory or classifications. I strive to use feminism in my everyday life and hope that my behaviour can be an example. I’m not a perfect feminist, and while perfection is something we’d all like to have, I know I will never be a perfect or superior model example of one. And that’s okay.
Ultimately, feminism is about treating others with respect and equality. No matter what sort of wave you subscribe to, or degree of radical you believe in (or if you don’t even know what that means), you most likely have the same goal: creating a fairer world for all. (The only exception is if you’re a full-on raging sexist and bigot, but I imagine you’ve stopped reading by this point anyways, if that’s the case.)
A lot of people, even now, don’t identify as a feminist. They may choose to use an alternate term like “equalist” or the patriarchal “meninist.” Some of the people who refuse to adopt the label really are sexists who think less of women, or believe that they are not disadvantaged in society in any way. Others simply don’t want to put too much emphasis on debating complicated social justice issues. Many of them, including people I know well, are female, compassionate, and not necessarily ignorant; they just don’t want to get too involved in a movement.
I believe the term “feminist” is important and universal. By definition, I’m an intersectional feminist, because I believe that feminism ties in to others affected, including men and LGBTQ+ individuals, and that the treatment of women is affected by other factors, such as their race. However, I don’t really enjoy spending my time talking about these issues and defining my beliefs to others. These are global issues that are not easy to address; I enjoy treating people with respect, and I do my best to encourage others to do the same.
Anyone who researches feminism in-depth knows that the subject is not only complicated, but downright frustrating and upsetting. Feminism isn’t supposed to be fun. By definition, it’s about disrupting societal oppression and acknowledging the systematic abuse inflicted since society’s inception. Getting deeper into the topic leads not only to depressing truths, but to conflict and anger with others who may not share your woke views. It’s no wonder some people are turned off from the issue entirely, or feel powerless to overcome it.
There are many inspiring advocates out there doing work for feminism that goes far beyond anything I would feel comfortable doing. They devote their lives to helping humanity and making the world a better place, despite the crippling oppression that dominates the world. While you should absolutely feel pressured to treat others equally (which ideally would be universal, anyway), you shouldn’t let anyone get you down as long as you’re doing your best. As long as you genuinely want to treat others respectfully, admit when you made a mistake, and work towards behaving better, it’s all you should be expected to do.