Searching for the meaning of feminism? Avoid Urban Dictionary

Bianca Johnson

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When you search the definition of feminism on Google, the second link that pops up is a well-known site called, Urban Dictionary. When you click on it, this is what you find:

Feminism:

“The idea that stupid ugly women believe and say they should get the same rights as men, and then claim superiority to men.” Posted October 8th 2011 by dun goofed 2012. 7,497 likes.

“Feminism dehumanizes men for political gain.” Posted March 27, 2010 by grassy_a**. 7,991 likes.

“A movement meant to create equal rights for women when it suits their purpose, otherwise they are just annoying and hypocritical.” Posted August 12, 2010 by Julia Dance. 8,153 likes.

Urban Dictionary is a website meant to find the definitions of slang used in urban culture. Popularly used mostly by teens and young adults, Urban Dictionary is well-known for its funny definitions. But as you can see, this is far from funny.

Every “definition” is posted by normal, everyday people. It is open to everyone and anyone, and all you have to do is make an account. You can add as many definitions as you want and other people like the post to get it closer to the top. This allows more people to see it and gives it more “credibility.”  

“We’ll reject inside jokes and definitions naming non-celebrities.” – Urban Dictionary. The word “reject” leads to a link where the user can reject or accept new words. So again, normal, everyday people are completely controlling what others see.

I have a problem with this because of their demographic. As a high school student, I have seen firsthand seen the influence this website has on people. Many go there for information about the meaning of names, slang, school’s reputation, etc. They use that given information and trust it because they assume the people writing it have a small idea of what they’re talking about. Maybe the writers think they’re being funny, but they fail to realize the effect they have.

Here’s what it says about Watkins Mill High School:

“One of the most violent schools in Montgomery County Public Schools. Due to its mass fights of people including interracial activities.” Reservoir Dogs September 15, 2016.

To address the demographic again, two words – middle schoolers. I have a 12-year-old sister in seventh grade. She knows what Urban Dictionary is and uses it often, along with her friends. Imagine her seeing this review of Watkins Mill; she wouldn’t want to go there. She would fall into the belief that Watkins Mill is a dangerous school to go to, but in reality, it’s not. And everyone who has ever set foot in this building knows that.

Now imagine a middle school girl researching what feminism means. She clicks on Urban Dictionary because she recognizes the website and she sees that. How would she know that feminism is not a bad thing and is something she should care about?

Chris Smith is a teacher here at Watkins Mill, a husband and a dad of three children, his eldest being a four-year-old girl. As a boy he grew up with three brothers and his parents, but as a teen his father passed away. When this happened he began to notice his mom’s strength more and more.

“I recognize her as a strong person. Not just as a woman in my life, but somebody I depend on,” Smith said. As his knowledge grew, he met his wife and learned a completely different perspective. “I identified characteristics in her that were not just characteristics of a female… It was more about the meeting of the minds and our mutual goals as individuals,” Smith added.

When his daughter was born, he was faced with yet another perspective. He began to defend her right of choice. Allowing her pick her own toys and interest, not based on gender but on her personality. “If she wants to do things that are characterized as girly, that’s fine, but shouldn’t she be able to go out and get her hands dirty, play in the mud [and] pick up worms?” Smith said. “That shouldn’t be characterized as only for boys.”

Through this journey he found that feminism is “standing up for [a cause] and being a defender of it and a proponent of it,” Smith said. He started by seeing the equality in his parent’s marriage, then he mirrored that equality with his wife, and now teaches his daughter to expect the same equality, not just in relationships but with anything she wants to do.

Feminism is really “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” – Oxford dictionary. It is “the belief in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.” – Britannica. It is not a disgrace, it is not women dehumanizing men, it is a simple request for respect. All women, no matter what color, no matter what social class, deserve to be treated with the same opportunities as men, as the same pay as men and as the same treatment as men.

I challenge you to think about your personal definition of feminism. Be a critical thinker and always keep digging for more information.

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