By Erika Kellerman
In 2015, it is common to hear the word “feminism.” But what is feminism?
By definition, feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men — but it goes further than that.
First and foremost, feminism has nothing to do with men. What feminism does is hold men accountable for their actions. It also helps men with breaking down the “men are masculine, men can’t cry; they can’t be sensitive” stereotypes.
Feminism, in a nutshell, fights for our girls in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Racism, classism, sexism, the sexualization of young girls and women in general (whether that be in the media, or in “real life” encounters), domestic abuse, sexual assault and rape, sex positivity, education, forced marriages, human rights, sex trafficking and female circumcision are just a few problems feminism helps fight.
Feminism is geared toward advocating for the rights of women and girls of the world, whether they were born female or not. You can be a feminist no matter what gender you identify as. Being a feminist in 2015 is inherently different than being a feminist in the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and so on. In different time periods, the goals of the feminist movement have also changed to fit the problems of these times periods. For example, the Suffragettes began the feminist movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their biggest concerns were voting, serving on juries, and being able to work in male dominated fields (like the steel mills).
There is a skewed, whitewashed version of feminism that circulates in the U.S. White feminists have a record of downplaying the disadvantages of minorities. If your idea of feminism does not include females of a different race, culture, disability, religion, or age; if they are trans, are fat, chubby, skinny, or anything in between, you are not a feminist.
Feminism in the United States has been sheltered to causes of freeing the nipple, fighting the wage gap, or fighting slut-shaming and rape culture. All of these topics are extremely important, but feminists cannot forget about females in other countries who are living in poverty or are oppressed. Women and girls in other countries fight for their lives over education, are forced into marriages, are raped and put into human trafficking, among other things.
Without intersectionality, feminism is pointless.
Intersectional Feminist Matt McGorry
When I first heard that Matt McGorry, who plays Asher Millstone on “How To Get Away With Murder” and officer John Bennett on “Orange is the New Black,” made comments about how he was a feminist, I immediately rolled my eyes. I thought to myself, “Great, another white guy trying to infiltrate something I held so close to me and gain massive amounts of press.” McGorry plays the biggest jerk of all collegiate jerks on TV. So, naturally, I saw him as that persona off camera — forgetting that it was just a role. That ignorance made me assume that he (and many other men) couldn’t/wouldn’t care about feminism, or the right issues in feminism, let alone intersectional feminism. I was scared that this was going to be another topic that women advocate for that gets treated as a joke (as if it doesn’t get enough criticism by men already).
His comments caught me off guard — a breath of fresh air in a smoke-ridden room, even. I wanted to go and give him the biggest kiss on the face for holding discussions about white privilege, gender equality, oppression of women in first-, second-, third-world countries, rape culture, and the hyper masculinity of men. Ever since his first tweets, he has participated in many rallies, protests and Amber Rose’s Slut Walk.
McGorry says that he asks his friends about controversial topics before saying anything about it. He wants to make sure that he’s not stepping out of place for saying something about #BlackLivesMatter or feminism. In his Cosmopolitan article, he said, “My hope is to follow the love and continue to learn what it means to be the best ally that I can be.”
I shouldn’t be this happy that a male discussed how rape isn’t a woman’s fault, no matter what she was wearing or how drunk she was. I shouldn’t be excited to credit a man that has been doing what women have been doing since the ‘20s, but in 2015, it is extremely important that there is a guy like McGorry speaking about intersectional feminism. He is a majority race and a majority gender that is highly influential in the media.