Feminism: Why the name should stay.

University, student accommodation and the debates that parliament would be proud of. 

If university teaches you one thing it is how to debate. It teaches you how to hold on to your beliefs when all your friends doubt you. Debates are inevitable especially when it comes to trivial subjects like politics or ethics.

Living in student accommodation is no different. My flat have debates on the regular, sometimes it doesn’t end well but in our own way I suppose we respect each other (even if at times we want to refute every statement being tossed at us and scream that they are wrong). Living in close proximity to people who are all geographically and socially different from me is hard. It’s hard when your beliefs are challenged and your opinions over-ruled. But I firmly believe that the only way to make them stronger is to have someone to refute them. I write this post after a recent debate that happened this morning.

Feminism.

The fight for gender equality, derived from the word female as it is the female gender that is undervalued and deprived. Coined by philosopher Charles Fourier in 1837. And now in the modern age, a term used to attack those who stand up for its movement.

My flatmate argued that the term feminist should be changed in order to gain the sense of gender equality that they support. In order to allow naive men to understand the movement instead of believing the media’s interpretation of men haters. This inevitably started debate.

Feminism.

The fight for equality in both genders.

Equality.

The belief that all humans are equal and should be treated so.

Humanism.

A term used in the Renaissance to describe a philosophical movement that believed in rationality rather than supernatural matters.

I incorporate the definitions above because equality and humanism are two terms that come up frequently in this debate. I want to show that these terms are very different from feminism.

Feminism is a movement for everyone. It deals with the oppression of women in all cultures, race and religion, as well as men’s issues. Hence the confusion to why it is not called equality or humanistic. Due to this people argue that the name should be changed to encompass a broad range of people. But this is not how feminism came about. It has developed with society and we must understand this.

Feminism was bought about because women were being oppressed. If it were the other way round I’m sure the term menism would have been coined (which recently it has). History is how the term was derived. From Mary Ward to the Suffragettes, women’s rights has been a huge part of society for a long time. So if you want to shake up feminism, market the media involved, shake up the movement. Don’t change the name.

To change the term feminism in order to please naive men (or even women for that matter) is absurd. We should educate these people on feminism, not rename it. People should be educated, not subject to the portrayal of the media, but via real people.

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7 thoughts on “Feminism: Why the name should stay.

  1. Hi 🙂 I found you through the community pool :). Great post.

    Now, I have to say, the idea of changing the terms “feminist” and “feminism” in order to please naive men is bloody ironic if you ask me. Feminism is described as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men” in my dictionary. I honestly feel like the people who fight to change it to “humanism” or something similar do so because they want it to be equal but frankly, I don’t agree with that. IT’S NOT EQUAL FOR WOMEN. This movement exists because we’ve been mistreated since the dawn of time; so why should we change the name of OUR beliefs and OUR movement to “portray equality” when the whole point of the movement is to shine a light on all the places where equality doesn’t exist and change them? Why does the “equality” have to start with watering down what our movement is called or what we are called, but not changing the way society treats us?

    I’m by no means a “man-hater” (hell, some of my most loved people are men) but men already get paid more than us, have been treated better, and aren’t subjected to the same things women are. What’s so wrong with having a movement that’s for women and women alone? Why do we need to make it equal by calling it humanism? This isn’t about changing the way men are treated or the rights they have; it’s about making it so women receive the same. “Feminism” denotes the feminine, which are the exact people this movement aims to help. Until it’s equal across the board I believe it is necessary to be specific about the cause behind the word and that cause is to HELP WOMEN; not all humans. Men already have what we’re aiming for. For the sake of clarity, it’s not as if we’re telling men to go screw themselves, but they aren’t effected by what’s done directly to us. A man can be a feminist because he agrees with advocating for women’s right as much as any woman does; but that doesn’t make the movement about him too. Maybe it’s about the people he loves, but that’s it. Idk. I’m rambling now. But it’s just a thought. It seems insane to me to call it humanism. Yes the end goal is that we’re all treated as equal, as human beings, and that’s it. But it exists because that dream is not a reality yet and changing the term to “humanism” just feels a lot like repression to me. Just my thoughts. Thanks for posting. 🙂

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    1. Thank-you so much for your comment, I did not find it at all rambling, you speak a lot of sense. This is exactly what I was trying to tell my flat mate who insisted that men can’t be feminists! I feel like people who can’t call themselves feminists should really look in to the movement and understand it in terms of its history and what it is trying to do for women and not the portrayal of it in the media which overshadows many people’s opinions. I feel that a lot of people don’t fully understand feminism and due to this it has turned in to a taboo which carries negative stigma. Thank-you for reading and sharing your thoughts, it is much appreciated.

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  2. As I understood the debate, why the name should be changed has nothing to do with men(I personally don’t have an opinion on whether or not the name should be kept). Most people I’ve seen suggesting changing the name are women who share the feminism belief system, but don’t feel ‘feminist’ is a label they wish to associate with themselves due to the over the top nature of the current dogma being spouted by the vocal extremists. In the eyes of the general public, thanks to these extremists, feminism is getting a bad rep. It’s being see as a platform for the evaluation of women to their ‘rightful’ place above me. Calls for the reduction of the male population and internment camps where men should be kept aren’t endearing the cause to your average person, male or female.

    So feminist who do follow the ideology that feminism actually stands for don’t want to be associated with the extremist. The options are to either discredit and remove their ability to speak for the movement, which would be impossible, or create a new term that replaces feminism but means the exact same thing.

    I’m a perfect example. I did identify as a feminist. There is no reason I can possibly imagine as to why identifying as a female would mean someone is in anyway less human. I’ve taken stands at work and with my vote, not to mention my voice, to educate and fight against the ignorant. However, I refuse to wear the same badge as someone who spouts that oppressing someone else is what equality means. I refuse to passively support them or the cause that elevated them. Has nothing to do with me being a man, has everything to do with me being ashamed of what some people have turned an important issue into and that no one is willing to stand up and say “that’s not feminism”.

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    1. Thank-you for taking the time to read my post and engage with in through comment.
      I do agree with you, the scope of the argument is very broad and the response that my post took was in answer to a debate I had with a flatmate who argued that the word feminism should be changed so that men can understand it. Obviously, I believe it’s an absurd notion to do so on such terms. But in the terms you are suggesting I wholeheartedly agree. Feminists who label themselves so in order to argue for inequality is again absurd. However, I do believe it should still be called feminism but people need to understand the difference between such radical ideas and the equality that all feminists (except the few extremists) support. These radical feminists are few and far between but I feel with the enhancement of the media it has disregarded the true terms of feminism. I don’t feel changing the name would combat negative press, I feel education is key. I’ve noticed this as a student. I’ve had many debates (like the one above) with people who clearly are fooled by the media representation and the so called “feminists” who have been portrayed.

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      1. I agree. The extremist aren’t the standard, but they are the ones doing the recruiting; and the shaming of everyone who doesn’t fit into their view of what a feminist means. With how the world works nowadays, with Tumblr and Twitter and other social media sites acting as a source of information, its easy to see why many of those who aren’t really educated about feminism believe that the extremist view are the norm.

        Is that a good reason to change the name? I don’t know. I do know the traditional feminist isn’t heard above the extremist, so education isn’t happening. There are more than a few extremist, they aren’t the majority by any stretch, but they are the ones getting their message across. And a lot of good people, both in the know and ignorant about, the true ideals behind the cause refuse to be associated with it any more.

        “To make men more comfortable” is a horrible reason to change the name of a movement for women. “To not frighten off the people who can affect real and rational change” might be.

        Either way, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your piece and discussing it with you. Thank you for the civil debate and I hope we can do it again sometime.

        Liked by 1 person

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