Feminism: man-haters, shouting out for women’s rights to live as they please; condemning those women who adhere to the quiet, subservient and unimportant outdated ‘roles’ that society deemed suitable; but, is that really what this movement stands for? I asked the middle-aged man, slumped in front of the TV, to define feminism, and what did he say?

Unfortunately, something very similar to this; but that is not what ‘true’ feminism stands for. His comments are simply a manifestation of fear of the power that the word ‘feminism’ now possesses. Feminism is not a violation of the opportunities and rights of men, in the search of greater freedom for the worldwide female population, as so many of the uneducated population wrongly fear. It is the aim to achieve equality for all lives.

The UK is, by far, a more socially advanced society, whether you feel lucky, or not, we are fortunate to live here. Developing countries are full of untold stories, like the fates of their female population, that cause shivers to race down the spine. Young girls are still being forced to marry men, old enough to be their grandfather.

Not being able to see friends, access education, or simply experience a life in which they have their own rights are the reality for many. Girls as young as 11 must grow up and learn to act as their new husband expects and desires. In this modern age, more must be done to save these girls, these people, these human beings with potential.

In many sub-Saharan African and Arab countries, the danger of female genital mutilation is more prevalent than ever, now even occurring in infancy. No specific training and no form of aftercare, the process results in infectious diseases, severe blood loss, shock and trauma, and in some cases, death. It is an issue increasing at a scarily quick rate, seeing too much innocence being lost and wasted.

Only recently has this crisis come to the forefront of the news, the reason for that being its occurrence in Europe, with 180,000 females being at risk of FGM every year on this supposedly advanced continent. Why has it taken so long for us to notice the abhorrent crimes that are destroying and having hugely life-limiting influences on so many lives? The ‘reason’ that is used to justify such a crime is ‘tradition’. A tradition should not be maintained when its impacts are so cruel, surely? Their aim to ensure that women remain pure before their future husband steals everything that makes a girl feel womanly, ultimately stealing her self-confidence.

Feminism needs to lose the stereotype that masks its genuine morals and aims. It needs to be rebranded and appreciated as the equality-seeking movement that it is! Chivalry should not be at the forefront of feminist campaigns. Chivalry is not the main thing that we need to fight against. It seems to be one of the most common topics up for debate, primarily, among those who argue for the promotion of feminism and those who strongly, and vocally oppose the movement.

There are extreme individuals who regard themselves as ‘feminists’ and call for men to be completely redundant of their former social ‘roles’, but it means much more than that. We now live in a world where not only is it seen as rude for men to not live up to said stereotypes, but is seen as disrespectful and insulting for women to attempt to act in a ‘chivalrous’ manner, for her male counterpart.

Paying for a date? That is the man’s role. Holding a door? That is a man’s job. Carrying a bag? That is for the men. Surely, this is a simple display of manners? There is no logical or justified reason that women must live in fear of no fulfilling age-old, and subsequently out-dated, ideas, concepts and opinions; yet this is, unfortunately, the disappointing culture that has developed. There needs to be a much greater understanding between genders and generations, too, to combat these outdated beliefs, that place such restrictions on our lives.

In a world where ‘freedom of speech’ is still a privilege that many do not have, a movement, such as feminism, could have a hugely positive impact on the bigger and tragically distressing issues in the world, but trapped by its own title, bound and restricted to an expectation that its ‘members’ or ‘supporters’ are uncompromising and short-sighted anti-man extremists prevents any major progression towards gender-equality.

Eyes need opening, minds need educating and ultimately, stereotypes are the things that need destroying, not the opportunities and lives of so many. Only with knowledge and acceptance and respect can this be achieved. It is simply imperative that the tragedies occurring across the world are addressed. Achieving equality for all human lives is reliant on the whole world communicating, supporting, and challenging the evil that is taking advantage of people. Feminism is not anti-man, but simply anti-inequality.

So, when someone should ask: ‘what is feminism is truly fighting for?’, the answer is simply, freedom. Freedom and equality for all human lives.