#HeForShe: Why do men hate the 'F' word so much?

#HeForShe: Why do men hate the 'F' word so much?

This week, I attended the HeForShe event at the United Nations General Assembly.

HeForShe is a campaign for men and boys worldwide to advocate an end to gender inequality spearheaded by UN Women.

At the event, I heard Emma Watson, British actress and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador speak passionately about feminism and gender equality.

The speech not only earned her a standing ovation from the audience present at the UN headquarters in New York, but also great viewership online and appraisal on social media.

Like Watson, I identify myself as a feminist, too. And I couldn't help feeling she was speaking my mind when she said:

"My recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive."

I started calling myself a feminist openly after taking a women and gender studies class in college. It was that specific course which taught me what feminism actually entailed - "The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes."

When I first wrote an article about being a feminist openly, two years ago, I remember getting negative reactions from some of my friends and family members on using the term, 'feminist'.

They all thought it was too strong and bold a term for me to use. It did not align with my "gentle" and "docile" upbringing.

In the long phone calls and email threads which ensued (and where I spent myself convincing them that I had not turned into an aggressive man-hating militant and will not die an old maid or as a cranky cat lady), I only found myself growing more sensitive to the feminist movement.

Time and time again, I brought this topic during dinner conversations, phone conversations with old friends and somehow, I was never able to wrap my head around how some people cringe on hearing the 'f' word.

Emma Watson asked: "Why has the word 'feminist' become such an uncomfortable one?"

Really, why?

It only stands for helping women and girls achieve equal rights as men, and for liberating them from stereotypes.

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