I am a feminist. I decided that I wanted to be a feminist my freshman year of college when I saw how often my friends and myself where sexually objectified and mistreated. But some people don’t like the word feminist. I think that this is, in part, due to a great misunderstanding of the word.

Feminism is what you make it

By definition, feminism is "the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes." It's about the equality of women and men. With that being said, anyone can be a feminist. It honestly benefits every single person regardless of age, gender, sexuality, income, etc.

Some people think that feminism is synonymous with burning bras, throwing out razors, and hating men, but that is not the case. I, a feminist, have more Victoria’s Secret bras than Candice Swanepoel, have my waxer on speed dial, and love men. 

When I go out it’s to have fun, meet new people, and hang out with my friends. If I happen to meet a guy who has more sex appeal than a box of Popeye’s fried chicken and he offers to buy me a drink, I will gladly accept his offer.

But can’t you buy your own drinks as a strong, independent woman you might ask? Hell yeah, I can! But that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy having a Chris Hemsworth wannabe cover my $6 cranberry vodka.

Feminism is about equality, which means it goes both ways

Some argue that since women spend so much money keeping up appearances placed on us by society (weight, clothes, makeup, hair removal, etc.), not to mention the cost and inconvenience of birth control and the ever-present wage-gap, the least that a man could do is pick up the tab. But I don’t really like that.

I don’t think that the way women are treated and what they are practically forced to endure in their day to day lives is interchangeable with having a guy cover her 2 for $20 dinner at Applebee’s. This idea also completely ignores the fact that guys are also negatively affected in some ways by patriarchal standards.

Yes, what I said about feminism benefiting everyone is true. Due to the social construct that is gender, men are shaped into believing that they have to be these strong, sex-driven, athletic, good at math and science, unemotional, moneymaking machines in order for them to be “real men.”

Having to fit into this tiny box that is masculinity can be damaging to anyone’s mind. The whole “men buying the drinks and food chivalry” thing completely excludes the fact that the LGBTQ+ community has a dating life or even exists. What happens when two women go on a date? Two men? Two gender non-conforming people?

Is chivalry dead?

For a while, my opinion on chivalry has been mixed. While I’ve had these conversations with my friends about whether or not chivalry is dead, I wonder if maybe it should be.

There’s no doubt that women can benefit from chivalry, but wouldn’t it be even better to say, "I’m a human that deserves to be respected and treated equally, and so are you?"

You can buy me a drink, hold the door open for me, pay for my meals, and pull out my chair for me (I’ve never understood this one, but I guess it’s nice), but I can also do the same exact thing for you, because I respect you and care for you. 

Find what you’re comfortable with, have conversations with your friends and partner, and understand that we are all human beings deserving of respect.