Sinclair: I’m a feminist, and you should be too

Isaac Sinclair

I am a feminist.

Over the past few years, that word has become twisted into a negative and ugly word. But it shouldn’t be.

Being a feminist is something everyone should identify themselves as. Feminism means believing in equal rights for men and women. No matter how some people may contort and twist that word, that is, at its core, what feminism is.

But over time, people have become afraid to call themselves feminists, as if they would ostracized for calling attention to the fact that they believe women should be equal to men.

Men especially have shied away from calling themselves a feminist, with only 50 percent of men identifying as feminists according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation Poll in 2016. I frankly do not understand why that’s the case.

Obviously, there are extreme examples of the feminist movement. Any movement or idea has extremists, but they are not truly representative of the core set of ideals and values of those movements.

The same is true for feminism. Of course there are going to be extremists, but that does not mean you should be afraid to be a part of a movement that is incredibly positive and necessary.

But being a feminist doesn’t mean you are anti-man or support ignoring male issues. It certainly does not make you any less of a man.

What being a feminist means to me is supporting equal rights for women. Where men disconnect from this movement is in what this actually looks like in action.

Personally, I believe women should be paid the same as men for equal work, we should be encouraging more women to go into science and technology fields, not discouraging them and women should be able to be sexually active without being slut-shamed. This is just a short list, because there are many other issues that need to be addressed, but these three present the biggest challenges to men to get on board the feminist movement.

And they shouldn’t be.

Let’s look at the gender gap. According to a 2016 report by the Joint Economic Committee, women earn 79 percent of what a man earns. This is unacceptable in America. There is no way around that. Women should absolutely be paid the same as men for the same reason.

But for some reason, this hasn’t happened.


Some people say that hasn’t happened because women choose lower paying careers.

But women don’t always choose lower paying jobs. Sometimes, certain jobs will pay less because women begin to take them.

The Harvard Business Review shows when men started coming into the previously female dominated field of computer programming, that fields income went up. But when more women started entering biology and design fields, the pay of those fields decreased.

Society doesn’t value women’s ability to work, and that needs to change. This antiquated relic of a previously male-dominated world needs to die, and we need to introduce the equality that has been lagging for years.

Giving women more opportunities and equality allows new ideas and voices to influence the world and it is simply the right thing to do. It just makes sense.

Along with pay, there are still inequalities in the workforce. Certain fields are male dominated, and we aren’t encouraging women to enter these fields.

There have been amazing strides in some fields, like biology, agricultural, environmental and social sciences, where women make up near or over 50 percent of the workforce.

But some fields still lag behind. According to the National Science Board, only 26.4 percent of computer and mathematical scientists are women, while only 14.5 percent of engineers are women.

There is a lack of representation for women in science and technology fields. It can be difficult for women to break into these fields that are so male dominated because society doesn’t encourage them to reach for a career that is typically thought to be a male role.

Sports are the same way. Just last year, Cam Newton laughed at female reporter who asked him a question about routes, saying “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes like — it’s funny.”

It shouldn’t be funny to Cam Newton that a women can have a deep knowledge of the game he plays. Women are just as capable as men to understand and play sports, and it’s disappointing that this old-fashioned sentiment still exists.

If men still feel threatened by women coming into their field and being paid the same, they are disillusioned. Women aren’t taking men’s jobs. They are getting the representation they deserve. Men have only had to compete against half the population, and now that the other half can finally attain the positions they want, men shouldn’t be afraid of that. They should embrace it.

We need to encourage women to go into these fields that are traditionally male dominated. There are programs, like The Program for Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), that do a great job of encouraging and supporting females in science and technology fields. These programs are critical, but societally, we have to change how we perceive these roles.

Part of the reason women are accused of taking lower paying jobs, like I mentioned before, is because society expects them to go into stereotypical females careers, like teachers or secretaries, which pay less. This perception has to change.

Of course, women don’t have to go into these fields, but no one should feel like they can’t succeed or that they don’t belong in a field of study because they are a man or a woman. That shouldn’t be the expectation for anyone.

Moving on to my final point of slut-shaming, which is shaming women for behaving in what some see as sexually inappropriate or provocative ways, we see an unrealistic standard that women are held to in our society.

Men are allowed, almost even encouraged, to be playboys and sleep with as many women as they like. Society encourages them to be sexually active. But society tells women that they can only be a virgin or a slut, and when they fall one on side, they get criticized for being too prude or too easy.

There is no middle ground for them, and they are often criticized for taking control of their sex life. They are put in an impossible situation where they will be attacked no matter what they do.   

Women should be held to the same standard when it comes to their sex life as men. This obvious sexism of shaming women for how they choose to act sexually is ridiculous. Men need to accept that women control their bodies and can do whatever they please with them.

At the heart of men being afraid to embrace feminism is fear. Fear of the negative connotation that the label feminist has developed from extremists over the last decade. Fear of competing against women for jobs in the workplace. Fear of accepting that women can be sexual beings and that there is nothing wrong with that.

Fear of change.

Men need to let go of that fear. They need to work together with women instead of fighting against female rights. We are all just people trying to live fulfilling lives, and we should support one another instead of bringing each other down.

In the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation Poll I mentioned earlier, it also found that 30 percent of women don’t consider themselves feminists. I don’t think it is because they don’t believe in equal rights for women, but just like men, they fear the comparisons that calling themselves a feminist will draw.

Men and women alike shouldn’t be afraid to call themselves a feminist. Don’t be afraid to speak your truth, even if others misconstrue it. The word feminist isn’t an negative word, it is a uniting one.

I’m a feminist, and you should be too.