Author’s Note: Feminism in this article refers to the first world phenomena.  Feminism is still clearly required in third world countries and countries under religious or despotic rule, as these womens’ literal fights for their lives continue every day.

The controversy over feminism in the West is something of a false alarm.  It’s a hot topic that’s everything on everyone’s radar, but for every feminist you find, it means something different to them.

For some women, feminism is just the fight for women to be able to make all the same choices men make.  Those choices can be to rear children or rear businesses.

For others, feminism is a fight against a society–dare I say, a patriarchy–which has socialized everyone to see women in a certain way.  This is a step further: women’s choices themselves are influenced by the patriarchy and, therefore, the influence needs to be removed.  Women cannot truly make their own choices until indoctrination by the patriarchy ends.  What appears to be a woman’s choice is not truly her choice when it is made under these influences.

For yet others, feminism is taken another step further towards women as the collective, and not women as a myriad of individuals.  All women are expected to make the same choice, and those who don’t are under the influence and control of this patriarchy.  Women, and all groups, are victimized as groups and freed as groups, not as the individual.

It’s difficult for everyone to talk about women and feminism when we can’t even agree on what feminism means.  That’s why some females are throwing off the label: feminism represents so many things to so many people that, if you don’t stand with all of them, you can’t stand with any of them.  It bears a similarity to Christianity or other religious groups, where divergent groups might argue that they have the real truth of the matter, and that true believers are a part of their sect.  If you subscribe to this particular version of feminism, then you are a true feminist.

Religious groups, most notably Christianity with its myriad denominations, have coped by coming up with names for each flavor of the faith, but feminism has no such recourse.  Except for the title of “radfem,” every flavor of feminism is thrown together in the same pot and called by the same name.  Each feminist has such a wide breadth of beliefs that two people can call themselves feminists and be completely at odds with one another.  Unlike Christianity, which internally acknowledges it’s differences, no such internal recognition yet exists within feminism.  Each type of feminism still insists that it is the only type, and that it is the true type.  Each feminist is typically convinced that what they mean by feminism is what everyone means by feminism.

How can we identify the problem and address it appropriately if we can’t even nail down the nature of the problem and form a cohesive movement around it?

It is for this reason that the menism movement cropped up.  A response to the feminism movement, menism exists to expose the hypocrisy with first-world feminism.  The most stringent of feminists refuse the notion that men can have problems, that men can be individual victims of bad things or bad life situations, and many have noticed the disparity.  The term mansplaining is a perfect example of what feminism has grown to encompass: when a man tries to explain anything, it can easily be written off as an example of sexism.  This handy “get out of jail free” card silences the opposition.

Any movement which depends on the silence of the opposition is one that needs it’s foundation examined.  A good and just movement would only be bolstered by the activity of it’s opposition; the foolish and wrong movement is the one that, by speaking, will sink it’s own ship.  So if feminism is obviously right and true in all things, why is the silence of its first-world advocates sought?

The next time someone says to you that they’re a feminist, ask them exactly what they, individually, mean by using that word.