It is so simple, and so obvious. To be a feminist is to advocate strict equality between men and women in every matter. It is to promote freedom of choice for both women and men.
And yes, it is worrying that an editorial in defense of feminism is still needed in a newspaper, in 2017. However, everyday active public demonstrations of machismo are still happening, behaviors that should shame us and are still tolerated.
Machismo is the main root of domestic violence, and is still one of the most regretful statistics we have to show for. Machismo is also what fosters the recommendation of certain toys for girls, what determines why women earn less than men for doing the exact same job, what prevents women from getting certain jobs and what feeds the analysis of women on solely sexual and sensual grounds.
We can, and should, discuss every way possible to tackle the issue at hand. It is legitimate to discuss quotas, it is reasonable to question if catcalling should or should not be punishable. But the time to discuss the root of the problem should have ended long ago. It is simply not wise to discuss whether or not we should be feminists.
We only need to look around us to grasp what needs to be done. Women are further and further away from school. They have less access to the job market and when they do get there, earn less and are more precarious. The numbers do not lie: most illiterates in the world are female; there are still 18 countries in which husbands can forbid their wives from working, and only 67 nations have laws against gender discrimination in recruitments; over half of women in the EU has suffered from some kind of sexual abuse; merely 28% of working women are entitled to some kind of protection regarding maternity leave.
And, if the numbers do not lie, neither does perception. When the world’s most powerful president stands for the objectification of women and manages to win the elections, there is motive to worry about the public debate status. When the comments’ sections on most newspapers or Facebook discussions about Emma Watson become crammed with savage comments, we realize how far we are from living in a civilized society. This is why we should be redundant in a newspaper and say the obvious: I’m a feminist.
This op-ed has been published in Portuguese newspaper Público on March 8, 2017. Here ist the original version (in Portuguese).