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WHAT TO DO IF YOUR FRIEND SAYS SHE’S NOT A FEMINIST

Take a deep breath.

I took an Introduction to Feminism course my sophomore year of college, and let me tell you, it rocked my world. I knew vaguely of the women’s rights movement and would probably have told people that I was a feminist, but I was not enlightened to the extent of which I realized that prejudice based on gender affects nearly every aspect of our lives. I am very vocal in advocating for feminism, but I have noticed since taking the class that many of my friends shy away from or directly reject identifying themselves as a feminist. Now I totally understand that not all of us have the opportunity to take an introductory course, but it is something that should be discussed openly and we as women (but also everyone) should be educated about. If you have a similar situation or simply want to know more about the topic (hell yeah), here’s my way of introducing and talking about it:

Firstly, don’t get annoyed with your friend. She has a different set of experiences and backgrounds (and probably has not been given a complete history in gender studies), so do not judge. First ask your friend, “Do you believe in equality?” or even just “Do you want to own your own body?” If they answer yes to either of these questions, surprise! That’s what a feminist believes in. Now you can get to specifics.

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Feminism is defined as “the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” by Merriam-Webster. That’s literally what it is: equality between genders. Since the movement’s public emergence in the 60’s, opponents have been quick to jump on and point out the most radical version of it. Stereotypes of feminists are often portrayed as men-hating “feminazis.” The negative portrayal of feminists in our society has most likely contributed to your friend’s idea of what feminism means. (Like, for example, if we all judged the Bachelorette solely based on her giving the rose to the WhaBoom! guy, we probably would not have such high opinions of Rachel.) Remind them of this, this is the reason it is so important to reclaim feminism for yourself and all women, to show them its more than okay to do so and you’re not going to stand by idly.

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via @here_emily.t

Then, give her an example of how it is used. The feminist movement is the reason why women can be in the professional field (and be successful in their jobs!). It is also used to call into question why women are not being paid as much as men or why female bodies are continually objectified in media and advertising. Sexism is still alive and well today. Feminism is not a tool for wining or complaining about prejudice, its bringing up legitimate questions on how society is unfairly treating a group of people. Most importantly, its existence is necessary for progress and change. (Check out some dope TED talks on modern feminism here.)

End with this; there is no right or wrong way to advocate for equality (but keep it intersectional, find out what that is here). The most important part is that you are doing so, and knowing that it doesn’t have to be done in an obnoxious way. Simply by beginning to notice and address that guys are usually not the ones being catcalled or that it shouldn’t be normal to not feel safe when walking alone is recognizing the disparity in gender equality. We can all be feminists (hey men! even you!) and we should all be feminists.

Meet other like-minded vinas using the Hey! VINA app, here!

Enjoys long walks on the beach, mountain, city, park, etc. Talents include crafting and being able to touch my tongue to my nose.

7 comments on “WHAT TO DO IF YOUR FRIEND SAYS SHE’S NOT A FEMINIST

  1. Unfortunately feminism these days can be defined as being pro-choice and being offended if a man says hi to your or calls you beautiful when you are walking down the street. I usually smile and say thank you. Most women I know that call themselves feminists do come off as man haters and if personally offends me.

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  2. Wow! I just downloaded this app and I’m already going to DEPT it just because of this article. Just because a female has chosen not to be a feminist doesn’t some how make her uneducated or uninformed. If you actually do some research, the feminist of today are not fighting for anything of value. This is HIGHLY offensive and is EXACTLY why women refuse to identify as feminist. Because two faced stuck up ‘feminist’ look down upon women who disagree with your misinformed views and the worst part of you don’t even take the time to hear the other side. Every feminist I have ever tried to have an OPEN TWO WAY discussion with refuses to listen and screams over those who express opposing views. Are you going to turn your nose up at me for not being a Democrat too? The worst form of discrimination is discrimination of thoughts. Which is exactly what your promoting.

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    • Hey Kimberly! I’m an advocate of the simple dictionary definition of feminism – equal rights for people regardless of gender. I believe that women have the right to be whoever they want and think whatever they want. Your voice and perspective is welcome here, and I’m glad you shared! VINA is a company dedicated to empowering women, and the Hey! VINA app is all about the power of friendship, community, and sisterhood! I invite you to join the VINA Society, our network of vinas who write to help you live your best life, and share your thoughts further about maybe why you don’t identify with the word feminist. XO

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  3. I’m sorry these comments are so ignorant and uninformed- going off stereotypes and inflammatory articles and portrayals of feminists in the media does not a feminist make. This article was lovely and insightful. A few of my friends refuse to identify as feminists because it is now likened to an insult (“fucking feminists” are hurled regularly on Twitter) and I’m sad that this is now commonplace, but heartened that so many more understand and support feminism (including men).

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  4. Oh dear.

    PSA: When conversing with someone who has different beliefs than you, it’s probably best if you don’t blatantly assume her ideologies are birthed out of a lack of information or life experience.

    If we want to learn from each other—really learn from each other—we should have the grace to recognize that we should seek out the most brilliant people on the “other side” to discuss these things with. Having an open mind to ideologies that conflict with our own is what gives us the capacity to grow intellectually, and the ability to empathize with someone with a differing perspective.

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  5. Please do not create the presumption that anyone who does not claim “modern feminism” is uneducated. That is like saying that anyone who votes Republican is “racist”, or whatever other propaganda was spewed last year.
    I hold the utmost respect for the ORIGINAL Feminist movement, but whatever that movement has evolved into (or rather devolved) into by present day standards, is a flat out mockery of all that those women fought for. The Womens’ March where everyone walked the streets with vaginas as hats and screaming about our “right” to an abortion being taken away (possibly)?!?! Those women would be APALLED.
    Your movement has become a contradiction within itself. You scream and demand equality, but refuse to give the same in return. You want to get everything the “boys” do but if they crack a joke that reeks of frat boy toilet humor, you’re offended, and claim it to be harrassment due to your gender. You cannot request “equality” and “respect” but hold others to an alternative standard lacking in either quality.

    I don’t believe that the government should have a say so in anyone’s bodies, or lives for that matter. I am pro-life, but I also believe a woman should be given the option to make her own choice when it comes to HER body. My decision to believe in this was because I had an abortion when I was young, and it is completely and most absolutely emotionally debilitating. I have a son now, but he would have had an older sister if I hadn’t been a selfish 20-something. I realized that you are biologically carrying a child, its not just YOUR body anymore, and therefore, its not YOUR choice to make. If in today’s day and age, you aren’t taking the proper precautions to not create a life in the process of having a good time, then fuck you. An abortion is NOT a get out of jail free card!!! Life has CONSEQUENCES, decisions that you make have CONSEQUENCES. Abortion has to remain legal because sometimes we have to make tough medical decisions, but they are necessary when lives are hanging in the balance.

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