Over the past couple of months, I've noticed a campaign of sorts spreading across the internet.
"I need feminism because..."
It came up out of nowhere. One day nothing, and the next it was everywhere.
But in a way, it seems to fit my semester - like maybe it's made me notice something that I never took the time to see before.
Back in September, a friend of mine who is enrolled in a Feminist Theory class was telling me about an essay she had to write on her definition of feminism.
At the time, I thought that would be such an easy word to define - feminism is something that, in my generation at least, we've all grown up with. It's always been there, in the background. It's the reason I was able to vote for the president last month, and the reason I find myself sitting in my dorm room stressing about finals tonight. It's the reason I can hope to find a job with equal pay, even if a lot of politicians still aren't interested in making that happen. It's what my mom, and my grandmother before her fought for. And it's what I'd like to think that I fight for.
The other night though, I realized that it's really not that easy. Because as my friend pointed out, we're not man-haters and we certainly don't burn our bras.
But so many people still see feminists that way, even if they have no reason to.
And unfortunately, a lot of people seem to think feminism is outdated - that it has done its job, and nobody needs it anymore. Our country - and the women in it - can make their own way now.
But over the past few weeks, I've realized that's not true.
Fair pay is still being debated in political races. The differences in how men and women are treated in advertising was the topic of discussion in my Mass Communications class two weeks ago. I feel the need to take a self-defense course to protect myself - but my brother and my male friends never have. And on the same topic, my mom was terrified at the idea of me walking into town alone at 7:30, because it's dark out. Last night, my mom told me about a survey that showed men wish women would "start being women again" and wear dresses. My friends and I find ourselves terrified at the idea of one of us walking home alone from one another's apartments - even though we live five minutes apart.
If feminism has done it's job, why are these things still issues?
Obviously, it hasn't.
But it leaves me struggling to define feminism. Because I'm not suggesting that women are superior and should start a colony away from men. I'm just suggesting that we're equal, and despite everyone acknowledging that fact, I still find so many discrepancies in every-day life.
But how do you change these things if there isn't something concrete to pinpoint? Despite its very real consequences, rape-culture is an abstract idea. And so are so many of the other feminist agendas.
So is "feminism" a thing of the past - we have our equal rights, don't we? Maybe all that's left are our OWN ideas about ourselves.
Or at least that's what so many people would have us believe. But I don't believe it. Maybe that's a part of it, but doesn't society as a whole shape our world-view?
So how do we define feminism now - now that it is concentrating on ideas and beliefs rather than actions and laws.