Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word

Abigail Marsee
Shield contributor

In today’s time, every person has a reason that they proclaim or deny the feminist and Time’s Up movements. I want to tell you right away that I consider myself a strong supporter of these two movements.

Photo via www.dissentmagazine.org

Photo via www.dissentmagazine.org

No, that doesn’t mean that I’m an aggressive woman who is mad, and no it does not mean that I think men are less than women in any way, shape or form. What it does mean is that I love men and women equally, and think that every single person on the planet should have equality, be treated the same way in social environments and grow up with strong dreams about what they want to make of their lives that have nothing to do with the gross anatomy that God has given them.

This movement invites men and women alike to love themselves, and to hold the world to a higher standard.

I want to start out by stating the true definition of feminism, because there seems to be quite the confusion on what the word itself stands for. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and is “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests”.

The women, and men for that matter, before our generations have fought on behalf of this word, protected this word and provided us with a present day that would almost be unfathomable to them at their time. So, when I hear this movement being degraded by self-proclaimed definitions regarding man-hating, aggression or slandering, I get passionate, because these women do not deserve to have this word dirtied.  

Feminism is not a dirty word. We have some people in the media calling the movement’s supporters “feminazis,” and negative connotations growing more and more popular with the movement’s growth. I want to stop that. I want people to be able to believe in feminist ideals along with feminist labels. I strive to never hear someone who believes in feminist ideals say, “I am not a feminist,” but what can I say? I am an idealist.

This movement impacts me in the way I see myself as a college student, athlete, friend and wife.

As a college student, it means that I won’t be afraid to have big dreams. I have my eyes set on getting a doctorate degree and contributing to the medical field, and my gender had nothing to do with that decision. This movement is the reason I can have these dreams, and for someone to say it is not a direct correlation would be simply missing the point. It is also a direct correlation of my parents raising me in a way that never made me feel as if I had a designated role in society because I am a woman. I can have dreams and thoughts of becoming a doctor as a woman because of women and men before me who fought for that right. I also see it in simple aspects of life that are much more specific. I aspire to be a working mother, who does not have to stay home with her children to be considered a good mom in the public’s eyes. I want the stigma of dads being stay-at-home dads as a weird and unnatural role to be banished from our minds. I cherish the ability to choose whichever major I want, in whichever field, and live out my vocation in the world. Equality means that in social aspects of life such as careers and parenthood, women and men have the freedom to choose how we want to carry out our roles with no stigmas, negative connotations, or eye rolls attached.

As an athlete, I support these movements not because I am a woman, but because I want my fellow athletes to never focus on anything but performing to the best of their abilities and being strong, supported team members. The Time’s Up movement is one in which women of the film industry are calling for change for women everywhere in the workplace regarding sexual harassment.  

According to the EEOC, sexual harassment can be anything from “unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, innuendos, comments, or questions” to “unwanted physical interaction.” Sexism does exist in the world of sports, which is a world in which women and men should only be made to feel strong and capable. Feminism and Time’s Up movement are protecting female and male athletes everywhere and I am all for that. Oprah Winfrey said it best at the Golden Globes. She proclaimed that there needs to be a time when nobody has to say “me too,” while calling upon men and women alike to make this change.

As a friend, the feminist movement being integrated in my life means I actively lift up my fellow students, friends and acquaintances. I am a friend who wants to push her friends to be the best selves they can be, and that means I actively encourage my friends to know they have no limits on their capabilities. I want my female friends to know I will be cheering them on when they choose to make a big impact in the world while speaking truth and life into them. I want my male friends to know I do the same, and that they can always feel free to be emotional and sensitive in my presence. Equality has a lot to do with the environment I strive to create for my friends to be apart of.

As a wife, this means a number of things. On the surface, I look like a woman who decided not to take her husband’s last name and lives in another state away from him. This sounds extreme: cue the shocked facial expressions and eye rolls. I am a wife who could not fathom loving her husband more if she tried. I chose my husband to be my partner in life, and he chose me to be the same. As a woman with vision, I knew that my life partner would have to be a feminist. This looks like a man that supports his wife finishing college in another state, and a wife that supports her husband’s career and pushes him to be the best U.S Army officer he can be from a distance.

My husband and I have also discussed this distance and independence in another setting: taking his last name. Just as he lives and sees his goals through so too do I, and those goals have always been achieved and sought under the last name “Marsee.” I happen to like my last name. It comes from my amazing parents and equally amazing grandparents. I’m proud to carry the last name “Marsee” wherever I go, so I don’t want to lose it even when I’ve found  the love of my life. Some people get really upset but it, and I always wonder exactly why. Why do you need to take your husband’s last name to be united? Why doesn’t the husband take the wife’s or why aren’t both names hyphenated? Tradition? Unfortunately history will tell you the practice has been used to make women nothing more than her husband’s property. In our discussion my husband and I decided to hyphenate the name to reflect both equal parts of what make him/her who they are. It’s a personal decision that every couple should make, but if you don’t like it then feel free to get in line. As the wife of a West Point graduate and Army Corps of Engineers I already get more than enough dirty looks. That doesn’t stop me from encouraging everyone to decide for themselves how best to navigate this question my husband and I have had. Our independence makes us stronger, and as a result we decided to use this strength when answering this important question we had. As a feminist and a wife it was always a question I had, and I’m proud to say it’s one I answered together with my husband.

Women and men are equal and have always meant to be equal. This fundamental belief affects all of my interaction with my friends, fellow students, fellow athletes, and my husband. Everyone should take pride in who they are regardless of your gender. Feminism should always be viewed from the lens of equality not “man hating” or any other phrase used to undercut women. I am Abigail Marsee and I’m a committed feminist for the equality of men and women.