In my writing class the other day we were discussing the appalling objectification of women in hip hop music when my professor asked how many of us would consider ourselves feminists. I was shocked to see that the professor and I were the only two in the room to raise our hands. What has happened to the female youth of our nation? After I raised my hand proudly, I looked around the room at all the female faces and they all bore expressions of meekness, almost shrinking away, saying, “No, not me!” When did feminism get such a negative association? Feminism is a beautiful and powerful ideology and it is depressing to think that all the hard work of our foremothers has been in vain.

We seem to have entered a post-feminism era where being associated with feminist thought is something young women are ashamed of. The word feminist has picked up such a negative connotation that women refuse to identify with it. Many women often state, “I’m not a feminist, but…” and then go on to add something about how they think women should be treated more equally. Wake up honey, that IS feminism. Feminism is not a radical movement anymore. The hardest barriers were broken down generations ago, but now is not the time to digress in our progress. Feminism is not lost, but it seems to be hibernating inside many women who are afraid to let their desires for equality show. Modern feminists aren’t the crazed, bra-burning radicals that one often thinks of. They are rational people who realize that women are also human beings.

Popular culture and media seem to have forgotten this – and with that – the young women of our country. Young educated women should be the first to proudly proclaim their feminist ideals, not cower in the corner, fearing to be called the dreaded “f” word. Stand up for yourselves. Stop allowing women to be portrayed as sex objects, status symbols and currency. We are so much more than that, if only all women could realize it. Be a woman, be proud and above all, do not be afraid to say you are a feminist. Feminist does not mean radical protester. It does not mean man-hater. It does not mean lesbian. It doesn’t entail burning-bras or unshaven legs and armpits. It doesn’t mean you have to throw out your makeup and Victoria’s Secret pushup bras in protest of patriarchy. Nor does it mean you can’t embrace your sexuality and wear high heels and get freaky on the dance floor. I happen to be known for my amazing booty-shaking skills and I fucking love it. But this doesn’t make me any less of a feminist. Feminism simply means that you have respect for yourself and all women and realize we are not only sex objects and baby-makers. We have so much potential as human beings.

So let us think of ourselves as humans first and not as “just women.” Identifying as a feminist does not mean you have to change anything about your life. It is simply a shift in vocabulary from “I’m not a feminist, but…” to “I am a feminist, and…” Once you have made that small change you are well on your way to recovering from patriarchal brainwashing and all women will be one intelligent mind closer to the final feminist frontier.