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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

The f-word

Feminism is a dirty word.

Despite the movement’s best efforts, a major branding failure has resulted in a generation of women and men alike who are reluctant to identify themselves as feminists.

A YouGov study published in 2013 found that only 28 percent of Americans identified themselves as feminists before hearing the official definition: one who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

After hearing that definition, that statistic jumped to 57 percent.

Dozens of analysts have attributed the discrepancy to stereotypes: no one wants to claim a movement with a reputation for man-hating and ?bra-burning.

Columnist James Morgan noted in a piece for Science Omega that bra-burning is a complete myth — no bras have ever been harmed in the making of a feminist ?demonstration.

Such rampant misconceptions were unfortunately fueled by events such as the topless rally for equality held in San Antonio, Texas, last weekend.

Dozens of women clothed only from the waist down gathered around the San Antonio courthouse with signs demanding the right to go shirtless ?alongside men.

The exhibition was sponsored by GoTopless, a Las Vegas organization that has been campaigning for topless equality since 2007 and has had considerable success.

GoTopless was just granted 501(c)(3) tax exemption status by the state of Nevada.

I am a feminist. I support equality for us all, no matter your gender, race, occupation, sexuality, annual income or favorite ice cream flavor.

What I cannot support is the distortion of a mainstream movement with intelligent activists and sound goals by fringe radicals intent on focusing their energy on issues that, frankly, don’t matter.

My shirt is not ?oppressing me.

My generation’s disinclination to engage in relevant gender issues for fear of being labeled a feminist certainly is.

Morgan, later on in his column, notes that individuals cited every negative stereotype imaginable when explaining their aversion to feminism.

“My respondents said things like ‘Feminism is about man-hating,’ and so on,” he wrote. “It was interesting, however, to find that they couldn’t name a single feminist who was a man-hating, unfeminine woman. They couldn’t think of anybody. These beliefs are based entirely on myths.”

It has only been 94 short years — a lifetime — since women gained the right to vote. There is still work to be done in myriad other areas: reproductive rights to establish, wage gaps to close and glass ceilings to shatter.

The feminism movement, and all who ascribe to it, need to remember that meaningful, lasting change cannot be established unless the nation takes it seriously.

Eliminate the counterproductive demonstrations that only inflame the media and set to work reshaping culture from the top down while keeping your top on.

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