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The “F” word: Feminism is necessary

Katelyn Martin

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Illustration by Adriana Macias Photo credit: Adriana Macias

We’ve all heard it becoming a more prominent word discussed in the media, the dirty little “F” word that no one necessarily wants to say— feminism.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie defined it best in both her TED Talk and Beyonce’s famed song, “Flawless.”

Feminist: “The person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”

As a young, impressionable and blossoming feminist around the time this song was released, I was blown away. Having a ridiculously powerful and celebrated figure like Beyonce proudly singing about feminism on national television at the 2014 VMAs felt like all of my beliefs were concrete.

Now, fast forward to the release of “Feeling Myself,” by Nicki Minaj featuring Queen Bey herself. My world blew up with two of my favorite female powerhouses singing about unapologetically “feeling” themselves.

Well-versed and media-savvy feminists will know that Nicki Minaj and Beyonce are not necessarily the ideal icons for feminism— they have their problematic moments. However, their unapologetic female empowerment inspires young women.

Just as well, parents may not be completely OK with Minaj’s “Anaconda” video, or her continuous displays of her sexuality, but that is what feminism is about— empowering women to embrace the sexuality they are shamed for.

Other prominent women in media, like Lena Dunham and Emma Watson, have proclaimed themselves feminists. It is a major impact for impressionable young girls and women to see powerful figures identify as such.

It is understandable why the idea of feminism can be intimidating to many men, and even some women. Females tend to be intimidating on their quest for equality, but can you blame them? Until fairly recently, women had no right to vote, no rights to their bodies and were seen as property to men.

More recently, the funding of Planned Parenthood, a national health organization for both men and women, lost funding from the state. The decision was made based on the skewed and heavily-edited videos depicting Planned Parenthood exploiting fetuses that had been aborted. Unfortunately, abortions account for a mere 3 percent of all health services performed. They also offer access to birth control, prenatal care, cancer screening and many other basic health care needs for both women and men who cannot afford it otherwise.

The idea that men in government can remove such basic healthcare options for women is saddening and calls for feminism. Many figures have spoken out about their disgust with the recent Planned Parenthood decision on social media.

Feminism is all-inclusive. It does not dismiss men but does call for understanding that they are needed as allies in the fight for equality. Feminism encourages transgender men and women and LGBTQ+ communities. More importantly, though, feminism supports women.

It’s important for women, young, old, feminist or not, to understand that basic rights and equality are completely necessary. I, for one, do not want to make 78 cents for every dollar that a man makes. I do not want my basic healthcare rights taken away from me or any other woman. I do not want women to feel like they are not supported by communities of other women just like them all over the world.

Now, say it with me: feminism is a necessity.

Katelyn Martin can be reached at [email protected] or @katelynmmartin_ on Twitter.

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The “F” word: Feminism is necessary