Why do young women these days think feminism is some kind of dirty word? This is a question I have been asking myself for quite some time now. It seems most young women these days think you can't be a feminist and have a boyfriend. But why's that?
I think it's mainly down to those hardcore-feminists we've had during the 70's and 80's, women who, while fighting an important fight for all women, gave the impression of not really being women at all. Don't misunderstand me, I think very highly of those feminists who have done their very best to ensure equal treatment for women in our country. But you just have to look at a quite recent example. Alice Schwarzer, a well-known German feminist (at least very well-known in Germany), was quite angry about something another well-known woman had said, regarding feminism. This turned into quite a bitch-fight (and I know some women might see this word as a dirty one as well), as both of them are quite vocal and don't back down easily. And, to be completely honest, I can't imagine Alice Schwarzer having a relationship with a man, she seems too self-reliant and strong to me. Nevertheless feminism is more than just say "all men are pigs" and "women are the better men".
Honestly, I think a women trying to be just like a man is not trying hard enough. Why should I want to be like a man? Men die earlier than women, they don't have that many words per day at their disposal and today they're quite often picked on for being men. Admittedly women aren't off much better, just look into the magazines or watch music television for half an hour. While men are being picked on for either being too emotional or not emotional enough, women are often pictured as being objects (usually objects of sexual desire). One of the main problems of society these days seems to be that we don't know what we really are. We put ourselves into categories and are caught there. A woman can only be either pretty or clever, a true man can't cry or show other emotions. That's idiocy, but people believe it, because that's the picture the media cements every day.
This brings me to another thing I can't understand. A lot of women these days - including Victoria Beckham who mentioned not being a feminist, because she was a 'romantic' - seem to think that as a feminist you can't allow any man being polite to you. That's what opening the door for somebody or helping someone to put a coat on really is: being polite. It doesn't mean the man in question thinks the woman is not capable of doing those things herself, he's just being polite and helpful. And as a self-assured woman I am more than capable of realizing this, so why should I deny a man this little pleasure of - and I think I'm being evil here - being helpful in a restaurant or theatre? Of course I can pay for my own meal, but why shouldn't he invite me? I'll invite him to something else later, maybe pay for the taxi or the tickets for the movie we're going to watch. And just because I can put on my coat myself, why should I rip a man's head off for offering to help me? A man still doing these things today should not be killed, but treasured, as he is one of a dying breed.
Feminism is an important reason why things are the way they are today. A lot of women have fought - ever since the time of the Suffragettes - a hard fight to make sure we are mostly equal to men today. The fight is still going on and it will go on as long as women still get paid less for the same work or are discriminated in other ways.
The only thing we as feminists should avoid at all costs is discriminating against men. They, too, have the right to live and to behave the way they want. Getting a baby takes two - and so do a lot of other nice things in life. And sometimes I think remembering this simple fact could change the rather harsh words between the genders to become a lot softer and more friendly.