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The Heart of Feminism

Yesterday, a discussion arose on my personal Facebook page (as opposed to fan pages) about feminism. This came in response to a Forbes piece I posted about some hacker who dug into iCloud to find and publicly post nude photos of several women celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence. Had it remained a respectful conversation about the advisability of storing personal pics in a too-accessible place, I wouldn’t be writing this. However, it soon devolved into a moralistic argument about what women should or shouldn’t photograph with their camera phones. Leading the charge, not surprisingly, was a couple of young men, one of whom boasted about “jerking off to Facebook photos.”

Across this planet, women are subjugated, dominated, mutilated, enslaved, trafficked, gang raped and then hung in public squares for having suffered such humiliation. In this country, one in three will be sexually assaulted, and the majority will be too afraid to say something—fearful of being called liars or that they dressed to provoke or drank too much or otherwise asked for behavior that men “just can’t help” doing because, you know, that’s how penises work. And then, their coaches or colleges or even entire communities dare stand behind them in support. Even better, radio or television pundits call the victims of these crimes “sluts” and their listeners cheer and agree that “those whores had it coming.”

You know what? Enough. I’m calling BS. Men do not have the right to abuse, damage, own, control, shame, blame or otherwise claim superiority simply because a fluke of genetics gave them a Y chromosome. Women are not chattel, and by God, we’re more than vaginas and tits. We are not toys to fondle, nor objects to own, nor something to violate. We are not baby factories, and don’t belong in the kitchen unless we love to cook. If we do the same work as well or better than a man, we damn well deserve equal—or higher—pay. And if for whatever reason a woman desires to be photographed in the nude, it’s nobody’s business but her own, and whomever she shares said photos with. This choice does not make her a slut, and it's not her fault if some creep decides to expose her publicly.

Feminism, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Yes, I’m a feminist. I advocate for equal rights. Every woman should. Within the Facebook discussion yesterday, I was dissed for daring to identify as such, including by young women, one of whom actually blamed my sometimes-heated argument in favor of equality on “being on my period.” What century is this, again?

It’s the century where American women must stand up and fight for the equal rights guaranteed us under the Constitution. It’s the century where all women must band together in support of our sisters around the world. It’s the century where we teach our sons to respect boundaries, that yes, men can take responsibility for their actions, and that crowing publicly about masturbation impresses no one. It’s the century where we teach our daughters to be strong and smart and to speak up boldly if they are violated because there is no excuse for violent acts, and that having an opinion isn't dependent on hormones. It’s the century where women finally come to understand that we are worthy of love and esteem, not because a man chooses to give us those things but because we have earned them. And that is the heart of feminism.