The Definition of a Feminist

When we hear the word “feminist,” what do we think of? A common image that comes to mind is a woman, strong-willed and fighting for her rights–like this one:

Rosie the Riveter was actually a Michigan factory worker named Geraldine Hoff

The iconic feminist: Rosie the Riveter

There’s nothing wrong with that image, for she most certainly is a feminist. There’s just an underlying assumption that is often, but not always, true.

The definition of a feminist is simply this: advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men. That’s it. What’s missing is the label of “woman.” The majority of feminists are women, true, but not all of them. Through the centuries and hardships, there have always been at least a few men willing to stick up for us. And that makes them feminists, too.

While women have accomplished some amazing feats on their own, there can be no question that men have a vital role to fill in the feminist movement. We have to move past the thinking that dictates women should fill the submissive role, live to be a housewife, and let the man be the breadwinner. Certainly women can choose that role, but they should never feel like they have to because they can’t do anything else.

Of course, it helps for a man to have women in his life—such as daughters—because that helps him better understand women and want the best for them. In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s consider three of our strongest male feminist leaders in recent history:

  1. Barack Obama has worked to protect reproductive choice, equal education opportunities, and fair pay. He’s also worked to fight against domestic violence and ovarian and breast cancer.
  2. Justice Harry Blackmun authored the groundbreaking Roe vs. Wade case in 1973 that has allowed women to have a constitutional right to the choice of whether or not to have an abortion. He is an icon of women’s rights.
  3. Frederick Douglass is known mostly for his anti-slavery oratory during the Civil War era, but he was also a feminist. He attended the historical Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention in 1848 and argued that women have a right to all the same rights and power as men.
Barack Obama is one of the biggest male advocates for women's rights today

Barack Obama as compared to Wonder Woman: This is what a feminist looks like.
Image: Ms. Magazine

To see more famous male feminists, visit the Huffington Post for a list of eighteen men who have fought for women throughout the centuries. You may be surprised at what you find.

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