Urban Dictionary is one must-have resource in this ever changing world. Especially as you get older. Slang seems to be changing at a rate of knots. Do you think it always did or is that age talking? Access to the internet means that slang is an ever-evolving, swirling, beautiful chaos that everyone is a part of. However, I was utterly horrified when, by complete accident, I found Urban Dictionary's definition of feminism.
And what I read left me angry, sad, and even more aware of how important feminism is, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
So, what even is Urban Dictionary? Well, it's an online resource intended to give users definitions of slang words that they are not familiar with. Users add the words and definitions. So kind of like a Wikipedia for slang. Started back in 1999, definitions receive votes and the top rated definition appears first on the search list. Fair enough, and super useful. I myself used it to look up the word "skrrrt" because yes, I am vaguely out of touch, and I realised I was singing it in the Bey and Jay song without even knowing what it means. It's a tyre screeching, BTW.
So, what the hell is a word, that is not slang, doing on this website? OK so it looks like the site is also used as a sort of a burn book. Yes, it has been over run by mean girls. OK maybe not mean girls, but far worse than that, embittered keypad warriors/armchair activists/the kind of people who tweet death threats.
Look, I don't want to give the people who wrote these definitions too much air time because let's be honest, people who have that much anger and hate towards equality are basically trash.
So, the key points in the multiple definitions put forward (and there are so effing many) are as stupid as they are wrong. Which is always fun to read, am I right? Then why the hell am I so riled up by them?
I guess the fact is that the word feminism, or heaven forbid, feminist is somewhat of a controversial word. Male fragility sadly means that the idea of women being equally paid, equally represented in the media, not systematically oppressed because of their gender etc. etc. leaves a whole bunch of people feeling dreadfully threatened. And what do people do when they feel threatened? Act like complete A-holes and allow a whole lot of crap to spill like ignorant and hate-filled lava from their mouths. Or I guess, in this case, fingers.
Like I said, I don't want to give hate-mongers too much coverage, so I am twirling them away, a la Kenya Moore from Real Housewives Of Atlanta. For your reading pleasure, I have broken down the basic recurring themes of the multiple definitions put forward, and have helpfully corrected their definitions, Agony Aunt-style. Take the floor Auntie Aoife.
OK, now play this while I remind you how stupid some people are.
1. Feminists Look Masculine/Want To Be Men
Oh yes, this was one of the major hits in the definitions listed. For starters, you can't define a person by their appearance. Feminists come in all shapes, colours, sizes, nationalities, religions, genders—and definitely don't dress in one type of way. Just like misogynists. Also just because a feminist might look better than you in a trouser suit, don't get nasty about it.
2. Feminists Hate Men
Now, a lot of the definitions put forward suggest that feminism is the hatred of men. OK honey no, no, no. Just because one woman, or quite possibly many women hate you in particular, that does not represent all women. Nor in fact feminism. It more represents that you might — and this could be hard to hear —suck. I'll remind you that feminists want equality for all. So if you're a man with IRL haterz chances are your gender is not the problem, you are.
3. Feminism Is The Radical Notion That Men Are Not People
Babe what happened to you?! Look life is hard but you must have been super hurt once. Poor baby. Anyhow, of course feminists think men are people. Just people who have systematically oppressed our gender for quite some time. And people who are super threatened and scared of the idea of not being able to be dominant in society. Also there is this little thing called male fragility which is basically when some men get so upset at the idea of anything that upsets their vision of masculinity and they throw all of their toys out of the pram. It is really quite something to witness.
4. Feminists Are Female Supremacists
What? Sure. That's all women want, for men to be beneath us and for women to rule everything and to eradicate all men. OK, that's a bit weird and intense. Feminists seek more to eradicate the ideology that women are less than men. That the sole purpose of women is to please men, feed men, and give them children and there is no deviation on that. We can, and do, offer more than that.
5. Feminists Are Angry Because They Aren't Getting Laid
Look, I don't mean to point the finger here but I am not the person banging away on a keyboard for no money in my free time.
6. Feminists are B*****s
Have you ever met a feminist or is this all just based on something you saw on telly? Have you ever read any articles, books, essays on feminism? Or (most likely) have you made up a version of what feminism is in your mind based on how threatened you are by change and progress? Like I said before — equality. Although I guess constantly being pigeonholed because of your gender, fending off sexual harassment, getting paid less than your male counterparts could make you a little bitchy. But real talk, being a victim of all of those things doesn't make you a feminist—it just makes you a woman.
In short, Urban Dictionary's definition of feminism is people who have made no effort to understand progress or people wanting equality once again freaking out and chucking a total hissy fit. There are countless books, films, essays, articles, podcasts for people who feel they need to understand feminism more.
And, for those seeking a definition you can count on I will refer to the very great Gloria Jean Watkins, or as you might know her, Bell Hooks.
"Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression".
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to try and type that into Urban Dictionary 8 million times.