Clarifying the confusion

Addressing the difference between feminism and gender equality

Elena Gillis, Staff Writer


The word draws a wide array of feelings from a variety of people – anger, hope, passion. Confusion, belief, power.


It is a controversial word. Feminism, by definition, is gender equality, but it has become so warped that the word no longer carries the same sense of strength it once did. That, however, does not make feminism any less valuable or any less necessary.  


Misogynistic issues are prevalent everywhere, and are in no way specific to women. Men, too, are frequently the victims of sexism, though their struggles are often belittled. Men are sexually assaulted too.


Men are often shunned for partaking in something viewed as too feminine. Stay-at-home dads are often looked down upon, for taking care of children is a task “only” for women. The characterization of activities or lifestyles as a certain gender has become too much, too often, and it is something that needs to be changed.


As I have grown, I have seen many instances of discrimination. At 5, my mother told me that I’d be safer walking home with my male friends beside me. At 10, I wondered why I couldn’t look like the girls in the ads that dotted every surface. The constant portrayal of women as objects made me doubt my self-worth. At 14, I was catcalled for the first time. At 15, I realized that I was going to be seen first for my appearance and second for my abilities.


As girls, we are told that we will grow up to be wives and mothers, not doctors and lawyers. This is not something that should be taken with a grain of salt. We should not learn to live with it, we should learn to fix it. The perspective of the general public has evolved, but we have not reached equality.


We are living at the height of a movement that drew millions during the 60s and 70s. Women and men alike have opened their eyes to all sorts of social issues and followed the minds of powerful figures such as Angelina Jolie, Emma Watson, Malala, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.


This, however, does not dismiss any negative connotations that the term “feminism” still carries. Many have come to assume that feminism’s purpose is to raise women above men, but that is not the case. In 2014, TIME Magazine added the word “feminist” to its list of words that should be banned in the following year. The publication later apologized, but this opened the eyes of many due to the fact that we as a society, have yet to reach equality.


This raises a new question: How long until we reach equality? According to a Gender Gap calculator provided by the World Economics Forum, it will take 118 more years for America to close the gender gap. Currently, no country has reached equality, though Iceland comes close with a gender gap of only 0.881. The United States came in at 28th, with a gender gap of 0.740, according to the Global Gender Gap Report of 2015.


While we are living in the peak of a feminist movement, we still have so much further to go before we reach equality. It is important to remember that sexism is not a women’s issue, it is a world’s issue.



To contact, Elena can be found at [email protected] or @elenamg24 on Twitter.