In 2017, Merriam-Webster named “feminism” the word of the year. The dictionary’s choice was driven by the increase in interest in feminism during coverage of the Women’s March in January, along with discussions about what feminism means throughout the year, and driven by politics, pop culture, and movements such as #MeToo, where a number of women and men spoke out about their experiences of sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood and beyond.
At its core, feminism is about equality. In fact, Merriam-Webster defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes,” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” Whatever your thoughts on the word “feminism,” equality is a goal that we should all strive for — particularly as we begin a new year and take another step towards eliminating gender-based violence.
At Blackburn Center, we believe that inequality is one of the root causes of gender-based violence in our society. When one group of people is treated as less than another, it is often easier to subject that group to violence, whether it is domestic violence, sexual violence, or any other type of violence. Working towards equality for all members of our community — women, children and men — can help to end gender-based violence.
Because feminism is about equality, it is beneficial to both women and men alike. As the writer Chally Kacelnik stated:
"The thing is, it’s patriarchy that says men are stupid and monolithic and unchanging and incapable. It’s patriarchy that says men have animalistic instructs and just can’t stop themselves from harassing and assaulting. It’s patriarchy that says men can only be attracted by certain qualities, can only have particular kinds of responses, can only experience the world in narrow ways. Feminism holds that men are capable of more — are more than that."
By holding men and women to the same standards, feminism shows us that equality is beneficial to all — and that progress is possible.
We believe that feminism will continue to be important to the work of ending gender-based violence in Westmoreland County and beyond in 2018. Whether it is through the #MeToo movement or in our individual lives as we strive towards equality and do not lower our expectations for men and boys, feminism can play an important role in eliminating gender-based violence.
Click here to learn more about our work to end gender-based violence in Westmoreland County, or here to donate to support our mission. You can also volunteer for our organization, or get involved with our men’s group, Fearless Advocacy for Men’s Engagement (FAME).