Myths about Feminism
What is Feminism?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines feminism as: "1. The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. 2. Organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” So how then, has feminism been attached with so many negative stereotypes? The feminist movement, like any other social movements is constantly changing. In the present wave of feminism, activism and advocacy for equality for all people despite race, class, religion, age or sexual orientation is at the heart of the feminist agenda.
Aren't all feminists the same?
The only thing that all feminists have in common is that we are all committed to achieving political, economic and social equality of sex, race and class. Feminism encompasses a huge variety of people and positions. Feminists are religious, atheistic, and somewhere in between; we're Black, White, Latino, Asian and any combination of the above. We are married, single, dating, in open relationships and in polyamourous relationships; we're GLBTQ, straight and asexual. We're transsexual, female, male and gender queer; we're feminine, masculine, all of the above and none of the above. We're pro-choice, pro-life, politically liberal and politically conservative. We're young, young at heart and old.
Unfortunately, feminists often face (false) stereotypes, including:
- Feminists hate men.
- Feminists are angry.
- Feminists are unattractive and not feminine.
- All feminists are lesbians.
- Feminists are all pro-choice.
- If you are a feminist, you cannot be religious.
- All feminists are career women and do not support stay-at-home moms.
- Feminists are Bra- Burners who hate sex.
- Feminists can only be women.
- Feminists don’t believe in marriage.
If you have ever found yourself saying “I’m not a feminist, but I am for equality,” then ask yourself why you do not claim the title? If it is because of the misconceptions of what a feminist truly is then empower yourself to raise awareness about what feminism is really all about.
What has feminism done for me?
Feminism and the fight for equality has drastically changed the landscape of our nation and the world. For a brief summary of women's history in the United States, click here!
Don't feminists want women to be more powerful than men-- and doesn't make them sexist?
Feminists are all about equality between genders-- which means feminists don't want women to be more powerful than men any more than we want men more powerful than women. What may seem like a discriminatory act against men is actually an attempt to level the playing field between men and women. For more information about this false stereotype, click here!
But men and women are already equal-- why does feminism still exist?
While huge strides have been made towards complete gender equality, a great deal of work remains to be done, both in the US and abroad, including the gender pay gap, access to reproductive healthcare, protection against sexual assault and violence and gender representation in media, among other issues.
For more information about the status of women's rights around the world, click here.
For more information about the status of women's representation in mass media, click here.
For more information about the pay gap, click here.
But I'm a guy-- why should I care about feminism?
While you may be a man, a little over half of people in the world are women-- which means you, without a doubt, know someone who is female. If you care about equality for your mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, cousin, girlfriend, wife, or friend who is female, then feminism should be important to you. Additionally, feminism is about equality for all marginalized groups-- equality for those who are GLBTQ, disabled, and ethnic and racial minorities. Caring about feminism means caring about people who fit into these categories.
But I've never acted in a prejudicial way towards someone of a different race/sex/gender/sexual orientation/physical ability-- why should I care about feminism?
One of the focuses of feminism and movement towards equality is a focus not only on interpersonal interactions but on the systems which influence social inequality. While you, personally, may not be prejudiced, that does not change the fact that we live in a society where racism/sexism/classism/heterosexism/ableism still impact the lives of people who don't fit in to the "preferred" group. Admitting that you possess some quality that is favored in society (i.e. that you're white, heterosexual, male, or abled) isn't a personal failing or a bad thing-- in fact, recognizing your own privilege is a huge first step in recognizing the ways in which inequality affects groups of people.
For more information about the concept of privilege, click here.
What's the difference between sex and gender?
Sex is whether or not someone is male or female. Gender is the social construction of feminine and masculine traits.
Resources for Learning More about Feminism
Feminism 101 - A blog with an extensive FAQ about feminism, gender equality and specific terms and issues.