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Why the Word Feminism Scares Us

Published on November 1, 2016, at 1:37 p.m.
by Brittany Ray.

“So you hate guys?”

This question often follows when a woman or man proclaims to be a feminist. Many of us have been influenced to think that feminism is synonymous with man-hating. By a show of hands (figuratively speaking, of course), how many of us have heard from others, or even thought, that feminism meant tearing down the esteem of men to better ourselves?

Per the perceived definition, if you’re a feminist, you’re not one who stands for equality; you are a woman who hates men and everything they do. In an essay by Roxane Gay, author of “Bad Feminist,” she speaks on the negative association that comes with accepting the label of feminist. It is a word hardly used as a compliment, but viewed as an insult. But at the end of the essay, she states that she “would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”

Feminism is a word with a simple definition and a simple goal. It is the mission to recognize that every gender is equal, and we have the right to fight for equality for all. All includes the different genders and races that make up our world.


Personally, when I first deemed myself as a feminist, I was afraid to say the word. If I did say it, I immediately backed up my reasoning and justified that I wasn’t one of those “radical feminists.” I didn’t want people to look at me as an angry, bitter, whiny woman. I am passionate about the issue and angry that it still exists, but I am by no means hateful toward men. Today, while I still explain what feminism is to me, the word doesn’t scare me. Nor do I feel the need to justify my beliefs to others. This is in part due to the strong women in the media who stand for feminism.

Emma Watson is a woman who fights for feminism in a different way. In 2014, Watson delivered a speech at the United Nations’ headquarters to explain her initiative HeforShe. The mission statement of this campaign is: “HeForShe is inviting people around the world to stand together to create a bold, visible force for gender equality. And it starts by taking action right now to create a gender equal world.”

It differs from other campaigns promoting equality, in that it calls for the action of men as well. A great point she makes in her speech at the UN headquarters is that men cannot fight for the issue they are not informed about. Her campaign is calling for men and women to fight alongside each other, because too many times feminism is deemed as a subject or a term for just women.

Through her fight, and the billions who have pledged their alliance to this movement, feminism could soon be viewed as passionate men and women fighting alongside together to see equality among all.


The public relations field is dominated by women. However, higher positions such as CEOs and directors are occupied by men. There are several factors discussed in an International Public Relations Association (IPRA) article about why men might receive higher positions. Some theories include the strong network between men, family planning and the ever discussed wage gap. Most studies show that men will make more money than women. With a field dominated by women, how can we expect to excel when our male counterparts earn more than we do?

With all of this being said, I leave with this: Feminism is needed in the fight for women’s rights. And feminism is needed to establish equality in and out of the workplace.


  1. Post comment

    I really appreciate this post. So often when I hear someone say they’re a feminist I see others react in a negative way. If I’m being honest there was a time when I didn’t truly understand the meaning of the word. I think it’s really important that the feminist movement is fighting for equality for all, and I agree with Emma Watsons speech at the UN and her assertion that men need to be educated and need to join the movement as well. When you have a diverse group of people fighting for a cause it helps others relate and understand it.

  2. Post comment

    I love the idea of this post. It is absolutely terrible that when people call themselves feminists others assume they are full of anger. Even though there are feminists out there who would rather project, I think it is important to remember many feminists just want gender equality. Feminism is needed in the fight for women’s rights, but not the kind of feminism that promotes hatred and anger. It is sad that in 2016 we are still struggling with a pay gap, and I think initiatives such as HeForShe are exactly what our community needs right now. I hope HeForShe and other initiatives lead to gender equality, but even more so I hope they lead to a change in the opinion of feminists.

  3. Post comment

    I believe that most of this article is true. I love the idea of HeForShe and working towards a society that treats all genders equally. My only criticism is the lack of acknowledgement that there are feminists out there that are simply full of hate and anger. The sad truth is that there are women whose definition of feminism is to hate women and be able to walk around naked. I think Emma Watson’s idea of feminism and gender equality should be something all of society practices.

  4. Post comment

    I absolutely love this post. Much of society has a negative view of feminism, and this is because they don’t recognize what exactly feminism is. I found your point about women in the workplace- particularly PR- to be quite interesting, as I’ve never thought about this dynamic. The large quantity of women in the PR industry, yet the existence of predominantly males in CEO positions is alarming.


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