This Sunday, Angela Merkel was re-elected for her fourth term as Germany’s chancellor. Despite arguably being one of the most recognized women in the world, Merkel recently left the world confused on whether she is a feminist. When asked if she identified as one at a Women20 Summit panel discussion in Berlin, Merkel described wearing the label by saying, “I don’t want to adorn myself with these feathers.” However, though I recognize this is from a male perspective, I would like to say to Angela Merkel, to non-feminists everywhere and to my best friend: here is why you need to call yourself a feminist.
Even though the term feminism is misinterpreted every now and then, it refers to a movement formed by people who believe all human beings should be treated equally, regardless of sex and gender. Nowhere is feminism defined or related to misandry or any other negative ideology. Feminism is equality, plain and simple. However, as with many other movements, members of feminism can radicalize. Because of this, feminism is now often equated with men-hating. Extremists of any group do not represent that group as a whole.
My best friend says she does not identify as a feminist because she thinks men have just as many problems as women do — just in different areas. She cites the increasing issue of male mental health as her primary defense. What I have so desperately tried to explain to her is that by calling yourself a feminist, you are identifying yourself as an advocate for men’s mental health. You are also telling the public you believe the gender wage gap should be closed, men can ignore harmful concepts of body image, women have the right to their own bodies and both men and women can choose the career they are passionate about. Feminism is the defining power of allowing people to live their lives how they choose, and because of that, I sincerely think all people who believe in equality must call themselves feminists. By doing so, you are spreading a universal message of acceptance and positive growth.
Angela Merkel, you are a feminist. Do not shy away from the label, do not question its authenticity or accuracy. You advocate for a world where women can lead just as well as men can. You are a feminist. My best friend, you are a feminist. You advocate for a world where men can live open, healthy lives. You are a feminist. Reader, you must be a feminist. Only with the voices of enough people that refuse to be silenced can we achieve the goals we are working toward. Stand up and say, “I am a feminist.”
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email J Metje at [email protected] A version of this appeared in the Monday, Sept. 25 print edition.