Why We Use the F-Word
Artwork by Sarah Saucedo
This piece was first published in Uprizine's Spring 2018 in-print edition.
Uprizine has always been a feminist magazine, but only in the beginning of 2018, did we decide to label it as one. We hope this will debunk the many misconceptions, stereotypes, and polarizing views associated with the word “feminism.” The negative associations people have come to define the word with are contradictory, and ignore the true history and objectives of the feminist movement. In this piece, we aim to address our reasons behind why this F Word, is not a bad word.
This is a word that has been charged with emotion- both negative and positive. It has been seen as being too aggressive in the ways it elicits hope for gender equality, and often induces fear for the dominance of one gender over another.
Feminism is much more than these negative misconceptions. In actuality, it is a structure of thought that looks at how gender affects the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges in our society. It is a perspective used to understand how these tenets overlap and intersect. If we look critically at many modern societal and political institutions, the wide disparities between men and women reflect a history of discrimination that has evolved to become more systematic. Examples of institutional sexism can be seen in various aspects of life. It can be something as commonly accepted as that a woman’s role is in the house, where she must take care of the home and family needs. It can be something more discreet, like when women are questioned whether they truly deserve to be in male dominated industries. It can even be more overt, like when women are reduced to either vessels for reproduction or sexual objects.
A feminist perspective can even be applied to those who identify as male. This happens when men are told they can’t express sadness or sensitivity. It also occurs when men are condemned and ridiculed when they take on what’s traditionally considered to be female roles. Feminist writer, bell hooks writes about how we all must challenge these patriarchal views because it affects not only women, but people of all gender identities. In her book, Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, she explains, “The patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.”
If we consider how society and its institutions constrict women and men to different roles, we find that it widens the gender gap. In order to achieve equality, the choices for different opportunities must be made available and equally supported for both women and men. The solution is not to shame the women who choose to take care of their families full-time, or those who choose to unapologetically embrace their femininity. We must stop making these gendered issues a fight between tradition and modern values or men versus women, where only one group can succeed.
Feminism encompasses multiple social movements and ideologies and ranges across countries, but the objective and theory of feminism is to make gendered opportunities be equally available. Isn’t that something we should all want to strive towards?