Feminism is not a fad that is going to be all the rage for nine months just to be forgotten in less than half that time. Feminism is not a pet rock, Tickle Me Elmo, or tie-dye. It also is not a trend that will come in and out of style throughout the decades like chokers, shoulder pads, or plaid. We are seeing a rise in feminism because there is a rise in social progression. Feminism is here to stay.
There has been a surge in people identifying themselves as feminists. Up until recently, a feminist was believed to be a woman who probably had a hard time finding the right man. Bitter and discontent, she spent the rest of her days childless and alone. In between being nasty and unsatisfied, she was burning bras at marches alongside other, equally unhappy women. The word feminist became tarnished and sworn-off. Women themselves avoided it because they were too embarrassed of the stereotype that followed it. Over the years, the word’s definition and power has been restored successfully. On the Late Show with David Letterman, Aziz Ansari was brought on as a guest to talk about why people have such a hard time referring to themselves as feminists. He said, “If you believe that men and women have equal rights, and then someone asks you if you’re a feminist, you have to say yes. Because that’s how words work. You can’t be like ‘Yeah, I’m a doctor who primarily does diseases of the skin.’ ‘Oh so you’re a dermatologist?’ ‘Oh that’s way too aggressive of a word, not at all, not at all’”.
Feminism has resurfaced in a positive light because women’s issues have finally been recognized by people other than women. Women have been voicing universal issues for years and been ignored or shut down because of their gender—sexual harassment at work, gender pay gap, body shaming, reduction to youth and beauty were all topics that were overlooked. Now almost everyone everywhere is calling themselves a feminist and standing in solidarity with women.
Undoubtedly so, there are likely a very small amount of people calling themselves feminists because it has become mainstream. These ill-intended feminists, however, are only benefitting the movement by giving it more visibility. Hopefully in the course of the movement, those people will learn about why feminism is important, and may even come to love it for what it is rather than just hopping on the bandwagon.
The spike in the usage of the word feminist has opened up the discussion of what feminism means for different women. The experience of a white, college-educated woman in Connecticut is inevitably different from an illiterate woman from Mauritania. Being female, they will have overlapping issues, but by the same token, the most pressing issue facing them is bound to be different. Feminism is a broad, umbrella term that demands women and men be granted the same opportunities. There are more specific terms like radical feminism, intersectional feminism, etc. but feminism hosts all of them.
Various celebrities and people in the public eye have come out as self-proclaimed feminists, too. United States President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both claim they are feminists. In the same way no one says they are an abolitionist anymore, with time, no one will declare themselves a feminist because it will become a given. In the future, declaring feminism will be a strange and unnecessary thing to do since the contrary of it would be alarming. There was a wave of education and enlightenment that disavowed slavery. In a very similar way, we are moving towards a time where girls and boys are not afraid to call themselves feminists. Ultimately, neither boys nor girls will have to call themselves feminists because it will be assumed. Feminism is not a fad; it is a change in national impression of women and their worth.