“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” -Gloria Steinem

Jessica Sieling , Managing Editor

I have always considered myself to be a feminist. Even before I knew the word “feminism” or understood the definition behind it, I knew that I was a supporter of equality between sexes. It just seemed natural to me. Why would people not want to be treated equally or have the same rights as everybody else?

Growing up, I was pretty naive when it came to anything outside my perfect shell of a world as a middle class suburban white girl. Although my parents worked hard to make sure I was grateful for what I had, I did not really understand the idea of privilege and that I was very well off compared to many others. My parents also worked to ensure that all their children, my sister, brother and I, were treated equally within our household. So it wasn’t until I grew up more and got into high school that I started researching and realizing that equality didn’t come easily for everyone and that despite how far we have come, there are still people fighting to be considered equal every day.

Even though it’s 2014, people still seem to get the wrong idea when it comes to what feminism actually is. It is not hating men, like many people assume, and it is not the idea that women are superior to men in any way. The dictionary definition of the word “feminism” is: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities and the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. So why is being a feminist such a big deal?

The answer is that it is not a big deal, but that people choose to make it a big deal because they tend to lash out against things that they do not understand.

Recently, actress Emma Watson gave a huge speech at the United Nations Headquarters about her new campaign called, HeForShe. The organization is built on the idea that feminism can help men, as well as women, by eliminating gender roles and getting rid of the idea that men are naturally superior to women.

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive,” Watson said. “Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.”

HeForShe is a campaign that works toward helping men and women. It supports literally everyone. However, that has not stopped many people from criticizing Watson for speaking out on the matter. In fact, she has recently received a lot of hate from people all over the world about her speech, with people even sending her death threats. And I cannot seem to wrap my head around the fact that the feminist movement has come so far, but still faces so much hatred by people who choose to stay ignorant.

Even though some people claim that women have gained their equality, statistics show that there is still inequality in our world. For example, in today’s society, an American woman who works full-time only makes 78 cents for every dollar that a man made for the same work. The gap is even larger for women of color; where African American women are paid 64 cents compared to white men and Hispanic women only make 54 cents compared to white men, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

This just goes to show that there is a definite gap between how men and women are treated in this country. And feminism is simply a way for women to fight for what they believe in: equality.

Strong women all over the world have been working to achieve feminism for decades. Anywhere from the 19th century when feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton began to pave the path for women’s rights in the United States, up to Malala Yousafzai fighting for girl’s rights to get an education today. There are women all over the country working every day to achieve something that, in my opinion, should have happened a long time ago. But it is important that we continue to push for equality, and fight for those people in other countries that still face discrimination based on their gender.

I think everyone should be a feminist. It is an important movement that encourages both men and women to identify as how they want, regardless of gender roles that have been previously set by society.