Here’s a wild thought: you’re a feminist. Now, before you all get sweaty, angry and offended by the big bad F word, let me ask you one question: Do you believe in gender equality? If you answered yes, then congratulations, you’re a feminist by definition!
Let’s face it; there is a lot of baggage and misconceptions surrounding the word “feminism”. I think this has created a problem in which we are seeing people not identifying as “feminist” when they otherwise would because they don’t want to be associated with the dirty stigma, or rather, they don’t really know what it means to be a feminist. So here’s to crushing problematic and pervasive stereotypes and misconceptions, while shedding some light on what it actually means to be a feminist…
Misconception #1: Feminists can only be women.
Gender roles impact both men and women. Any person who believes in gender equality is a feminist. That includes men too, and you’d be surprised to know that there are a lot of proud male feminists.
Misconception #2: Feminists hate men.
Feminism has nothing to do with hate, and everything to do with respect, freedom of choice and equality. Feminism doesn’t just liberate women; it also liberates men by breaking down the standards which society has put in place for both women and men.
Misconception #3: Feminists are angry.
Perhaps at times feminists have expressed their frustration with patriarchy and sexism in less than cordial ways, but not all feminists lash out. Just take into consideration that continued second-class citizenship isn’t something that makes anyone feel warm and fuzzy.
Misconception #4: Feminists are not feminine.
Feminism is about giving women choices, not limiting their self-expression. Not all feminists are against femininity. What they are against is being told how to behave according to their gender. A woman’s love of jewelry, nice dresses or high-heels in no way makes her less of a feminist.
Misconception #5: Feminists are all the same.
The only thing that all feminists have in common is that we are all committed to achieving political, economic and social equality. Feminism encompasses a huge variety of people and positions.
Misconception #6: Feminists are anti-marriage and anti-family.
Feminists actively fight for the rights of mothers and many feminists are married and are mothers. Feminists believe that a woman is not defined by her ability to marry and reproduce, but it can be a part of her if she chooses.
Misconception #7: Feminism is an old movement and no longer needed.
Although there have been great strides toward gender equality, women and men are far from playing on an even field. A great deal of work remains to be done including: gender pay gap, access to reproductive healthcare, protection against sexual assault and violence, among other issues.
Feminism is not a dirty word. We need feminism. If you’ve ever found yourself saying “I’m not a feminist, but I’m for equality,” then ask yourself why you don’t claim the title? If it is because of misconceptions like these, I encourage you to research what feminism truly is, then empower yourself to raise awareness. Understanding is the key to progressing, and until we can fully understand, we show no hope of advancing. Remember, we hold the power to change how the next generation views feminists. Let’s redefine the big bad F word…feminism.
What do you think?
The number of misconceptions goes beyond this list. I encourage you to post others in the comments below, so that we can continue to bring awareness around feminism. In addition, check out my other blog post “I’M A FEMINIST, BUT SOMETIMES I REALLY DISLIKE WOMEN.“
If you are interested in learning more, check out UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson deliver a powerful speech to kick-start the HeforShe campaign, a dynamic solidarity movement for gender equality.