We should all be feminists and call for the end of the gender pay gap.

We should all be feminists and call for the end of the gender pay gap.


Using the word "feminist" in the media and by males themselves can be a driver for change. The battle for gender equality continues even when feminist trends come and go.

I'll never comprehend why some people find the term feminist offensive. This has been a problem for many years. It appears that mainstream media refrain from using the phrase out of concern about appearing "alienating" or "controversial." alienating and contentious for people who worry about losing undeserved privileges, gender equality, and privilege in general.

Feminists and feminism are necessary as long as there remains inequity, and August's Women's Month provides a platform for this rallying cry. By utilising the label feminist, the media and males may join forces to be a progressive force for change.

Women's Month has many different connotations, ranging from self-indulgence and champagne consumption to bringing attention to the gender pay gap and celebrating women's empowerment or bemoaning its absence, particularly in terms of freedom of movement and safety (as in the case of the Krugersdorp gang rape that occurred on the eve of Women's Month) and calling out the repugnant statement made by Police Minister Bheki Cele that one of the raped girls was lucky as she was defiled by only one man. 

In a healthy democracy, different interpretations and meanings are commonplace. There is no exclusive point of view or vantage point in August. But perhaps a minimum level of agreement on what feminism implies is necessary. It represents freedom of choice and gender equality for me and many other women.

Demystifying feminism

From August to December, Gender Links will host a series of online discussions with survey questions on "Explicating Feminism" in collaboration with other organisations.

Women who supported gender equality in a survey expressed reluctance to identify as feminists.

The fact that they represented less than 20% of the participants is good news. When this type of study was conducted in the late 1980s, 50% of respondents reported having trouble understanding the term "feminist." Some women advised against using it because doing so would make our male allies uncomfortable. Even if a change is gradual, it does occur when we consistently make the proper interventions.

Feminism, which broadly refers to equality for all genders, can spread into society.

In the first debate, Colleen Lowe-Morna of Gender Links demonstrated that discomfort was a worldwide problem. She highlighted a recent Washington Post Kaiser poll in which 47% of respondents expressed discomfort with the name "feminist," despite the fact that 94% of respondents agreed that women and men should be social, political, and economic equals. Why are we uncomfortable with the name feminist if we believe in gender equality?

Could it be that many people who claim to support gender equality don't actually do so? There is a negative reaction whenever power is in doubt.

This survey, which measures the zeitgeist of the period, was conducted by me thirty years ago, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be repeated.

We are unable to adequately address all the concerns in August. We do, however, have a women's ministry in the government, albeit we are unsure of its functions. Even when there is violence against women, we rarely hear from them. Misogyny, meantime, is still very much alive and well; according to crime statistics, 898 women were murdered in South Africa in the first half of this year. Men all across the world attack women on social media when they don't agree with what they have to say or when they are criticised. The attacks are gendered and sexualized.

Everything must be done quickly, from ending gender-based violence to closing the gender pay gap to acknowledging the importance of intersectionality and African feminism in light of the triple weight of racial, class, and gender inequality. These are all feminist assertions; none is exclusive to the others.

Some people have exclusive beliefs, such as the notion that men cannot be feminists. This can't be. Men must participate in all feminist battles since they are the ones who benefit from patriarchy. Male feminists are crucial allies, particularly because males are more receptive to the opinions of fellow men than to the voices of women, which they frequently characterise as "strident."

Now is the time to be cautious lest advances be lost to an antifeminist reaction. Consider the US Supreme Court's decision to invalidate the constitutional right to an abortion, which could have an impact on other nations. The question is not why feminism is still necessary; rather, it is why feminism is now more important than ever.

What about guys who tell women, "But you have so much; you live in a great house, you work well; you dress well, yet you want more?" Microaggressions can include "mansplaining," talking over women, and dismissing them when they are speaking.

One aspect of the feminist movement never changes the fight for gender equality and the right for women to make decisions without seeking approval from males.

Feminists should all be present. Not only in August either. The complete eradication of gender hierarchy should be the demand.

Because it is "alienating" or "controversial," the word "feminist" shouldn't be avoided in the media. Who, what, and why are you protecting, is the question.

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