Opinion: Yes, you are a feminist, even if you are not

By Olivia Holland — Congratulations! You are a feminist. (Or at least you should be.)

You might be asking yourself, ‘well how do I know that I am a feminist?’ Well, do you believe in the right of women to be treated equally and have equal opportunity? Then, you are a feminist.

According to feminist Gloria Steinem, someone who believes in feminism is “…anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

Calling oneself a ‘feminist’ has become a dirty word, especially when one proudly proclaims it in high school. Some describe themselves as feminists who ‘do not burn bras or anything like that,’ while there are others who ironically believe in the equality of women but vehemently deny they are a feminist.

What most fail to realize is with any following, there are bound to be different degrees of that belief, such as Christianity, or in this case feminism. When one thinks of a Christian, Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps is not usually someone who comes to mind.

This also applies to feminism, though in no branch of it is there one that supports hate. In fact, I believe being a feminist means to be accepting of all those who define themselves as a woman, and to eradicate the century-long restrictions society has placed on what is nearly half of the world’s population.

In the 21st century, it is mind-boggling women are fighting for basic rights. The old-age thinking that we are inferior to men both physically and in mental capacity have long been done with for the most part, yet why are women paid $0.77 for every dollar a man earns?

In March of 2014, Cari Cristman, the executive director of GOP super PAC working to acquire the vote of Texan women, does not view laws such as the Paycheck Fairness Act as important, due to the average women’s busy lifestyle, according to truth-out.org.

Cristman told WFAA TV reporters that women are “…extremely busy.”

“We lead busy lives, whether working professionally, whether working from home, and times are extremely busy, “ Cristman said. “So when we look at this issue we think, what is practical? And we want more access to jobs. We want to be able to get a higher education degree at the same time that we are working or raising a family.”

According to Cristman’s thinking, why spend time and effort focusing on the futile cause of equal pay when women nationwide are caught up in careers and/or raising a family? Wishing to pursue an education in your desired field is perfectly okay and expected, but do not expect to be paid equally with your male colleagues.

Unfortunately, issues involving equal rights for women are often placed on only one side of the political spectrum of Republicans and Democrats. Issues like this regarding something as trivial as an overall $0.23 increase for every man-made dollar should be an absolute no-brainer for women everywhere in what is right.

As a feminist, I do not hate men but love myself enough as a woman to know that I deserve better than what other women have gone through, and for this I appreciate the state that our country is in today.

One does not have to express the beliefs of gender equality by burning all your bras or fostering hatred towards men. Standing up to both men and women like Cristman and proclaiming that we are worth $0.23 more is perfectly fine, too.

[Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]