Has feminism fallen out of fashion?

We’re not all hardcore Beyonce fans forcing feminism upon you and hating men

Feminism. Whether you like it or not, it’s a big deal. This is a word that makes most people grimace and roll their eyes with despair. Or, smile widely in the hope that they can offer their extremely important opinion. However, the fact of the matter is, not many people know the true meaning of it.

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

Feminism is something that has recently blown up in today’s society, but unfortunately carries with it negative connotations, much like a bottle of Echo Falls chardonnay. As a student, I have noticed that a lot of young people believe that feminism is a load of extremist ‘feminazis’ on their periods, preaching and screaming at the male sex because they get a higher wage.

What many people don’t realise, is that it is actually a move promoting gender equality. ‘Mind The Pay Gap’ comes to mind, a petition aiming to promote equal pay for both men and women. The gender pay gap currently stands at 15%, with women on average earning £5000 less a year than their male colleagues.

In November last year, Elle magazine chose to publish ‘The Feminism Issue’, a special edition that uncovered a new campaign, #MoreWomen, combining their voice, skill and enthusiasm to support each other and demand fairness and equality for all. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission estimates it will take 70 years at the current rate of progress to see an equal number of female and male directors of FTSE 100 companies.

One of the many problems I’ve observed on this conflicted subject, is that the small percentage of extreme feminists, who use the title as an excuse to hate men, are the ones getting the majority of the publicity and therefore tarnish the name for everyone else. I’ve also noticed that hardly any men will admit to being feminists — possibly for fear of being accused of hating their gender, or being called ‘wet’, suggesting that they’re weak and showing too much emotion.

Fact: if you believe men and women are equal, then you are a feminist.

Fear of the word itself creates another issue. Some men are scared at the idea of a strong woman and therefore scared of feminism. A report was released in the past few weeks stating that ISIS terrorists were scared out of their wits at the thought of being killed by a female soldier.

This is an extreme case, but it demonstrates the sheer amount of power that women ooze. Take Malala Yousafzai for example; she rose up against the Taliban and fought for girls’ right to education. Even in the darkest of places, souls like Malala demonstrate that change, hope and a start to gender equality is possible. She has since become the youngest ever person to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

I struggle with feminism, like many other girls. I associate myself with being a feminist as I believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. I am not keen on any sort of extremist activity, neither will I promote girl-on-girl animosity, which is very common in extreme feminists. Girls, I urge you not to hate on other girls. Let her wear those Nike Airs and that Michael Kors bag, for you should be supportive of your female counterparts. Don’t remain as ‘you’ and ‘her’, become a ‘we’.

The whole point of feminism is about coming together and being equal. I often find myself disappointed in catty women more than I am disappointed in the way the world is treating my sex. As women, we are taught from the beginning that there can only be one princess and one prince and we rip each other apart trying to achieve that. We can all be princesses and we can have all the princes we want.

The word ‘feminism’ wrongly suggests it is a movement merely for the female sex only. So while I appreciate the name may put people off, it’s the true meaning that we need to focus on. Unfortunately, there is not a single country in the world that has achieved gender equality. Emma Watson summed this up beautifully in her HeForShe speech and asked the question: “If not now, when? If not me, who?”

I do not wish to force feminism upon people, but more people need to be aware of it’s true meaning, and what it is actually striving for. Enough of these ‘meninist’ Twitter accounts — an attempt to quash strong female character, let us give Emma Watson and all the other humans out there fighting for a fair world a helping hand and speed up the process of creating an equal world for both men and women, where men are allowed to show their emotions and women are allowed to be strong.