5 Misconceptions That Make People Forget Feminism Is A Force For Good
I am a feminist, and I am not afraid to say it. Woah, watch out for the Feminazi 🙁 Feminism is a big part of my identity and affects a lot of the ways I view the world around me. Why is it that feminism has become such a negative thing?
I’ve come to realise that most people who don’t agree with feminism aren’t actually against what it stands for, they just don’t fully understand what it means. They feel threatened that they’re going to somehow lose out, whereas really everyone gains.
Here are five underlying facts about feminism and what it really means:
Feminists are not all misandrists.
Feminism means one thing: gender equality. That’s it. It’s not a plot to overthrow the patriarchy run by trouble-makers who want to ruin your fun and grind your manly cis white het nose into the dirt. No. All feminism stands for is the social, political and economic equality of all genders. Women, men, non-binary folk – everyone. Yes, there is anger involved. But it’s not something to feel threatened by. That anger is a release mechanism, and a tool for creating positive outcomes that benefit everyone.
Feminists of all genders can appreciate that it’s important to understand your own privilege, whichever aspect of your identity it is that gives you that social privilege – whether it’s your gender, your able body, your mental health, or anything else. Hate is not a key part of feminism.
Men can be feminist too.
Whatever gender you identify as, as long as you support equality of all genders then guess what? You’re a feminist.
Instead of hating on ‘nasty women’, you can believe women when they say there’s a gender problem afoot. You can listen to women, and respect the need for women, people of colour and non-binary folk to have the same opportunities as cis men.
And you can also support gender imbalance in roles for men. For example, you could support men who want to be able go on maternity leave. Or you could acknowledge and help to address the high suicide rates among men. Or what about challenging the harmful stereotype that men must always present themselves as ‘strong’ and ‘masculine’ and ‘manly’? What about supporting men who want to go into women-dominated jobs such as nursing or primary school teaching?
It’s about making it a level playing field for everyone.
Feminism is not new.
Feminism has actually been around for quite a while now. After all, who do you think fought for women to have the vote in Britain in 1918?
Here in the 21st century we’ve taken a few important steps on our journey when it comes to rights for women. Today, a woman has more opportunity to pursue a high-end career. But not every woman does. A lot depends on her race, creed, background, orientation and gender assignment at birth. There are still so many hurdles to overcome, and issues that need to be voiced and addressed.
The pay gap in Britain still exists. Rape culture and street harassment still exsits. Birth control still puts financial gain before women’s health. In many countries in the developing world women and girls are refused the right to learn in a structured environment or even to drive, so don’t think we’re done yet.
Feminism isn’t a fashion statement.
Feminism tackles real, serious issues in society. It’s not just a trend.
You can’t just call yourself a feminist ‘for the aesthetic’ – that’s not how it works.
Wearing an ‘I’m a feminist’ pin badge and saying you’ve read ‘How To Be a Woman’ doesn’t quite cut it if behind closed doors you go slut shaming some girl for wearing a revealing dress, and uphold the negative aspects of lad culture by saying “boys will be boys”.
You have to talk the talk and walk the walk. And you need to be willing to listen and learn when presented with feminist issues that fall outside your comfort zone.
A feminist can look like whatever they want.
This one’s also important, because there seems to be a misconception that being a feminist means rejecting anything society deems as feminine.
Being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to swear an oath to never wear makeup, shave your legs or be seen in pink again. You can still wear heels, paint your nails, feel empowered about makeup and curl your hair to your heart’s content – if that’s what you want.
Society may define and constrain you by your gender, shape, race, religious beliefs, clothing choices, sexual preferences, physical ability, mental health or age. Feminism does not.