Myths about feminism are everywhere. Feminism has been dismissed as all sorts of horrible things. The misconceptions perpetuated about the cause as a whole are sometimes so ridiculous that it’s hard comprehend how they came to be, let alone how so many people believe them to this day. So let’s debunk some of these myths about feminism and tell people what the movement is truly about.
1. Feminism is misandry (or, feminists hate men)
How about we start this with a definition, since it seems that most people are confused when it comes to the basic meaning of “feminism”:
Feminism (noun)—The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
This myth isn’t even worth discussing, to be honest, because it would be a huge oxymoron if a feminist was a man-hater: someone who wants equality can’t hate the people with whom they want to be equal. True, you can’t deny the presence of a few extremist feminists who are misandrists. But we can’t a radical minority to create a reputation for the rest of the movement.
2. Feminists can’t be feminine
Feminism is essentially about giving women choice and autonomy over their bodies, not about limiting them. The feminist movement opposes the perpetuation of the idea that women must conform to the distorted concept of femininity that is considered socially acceptable. But they don’t oppose a woman’s choice to act or look however way they want.
3. Feminists are offended by gallantry
Contrary to popular beliefs, not all feminists will give you a lecture about systematic oppression when you open a door for them! This myth is often used to claim that feminists cannot differentiate between genuine politeness (or romantic endeavors) and pure sexism that is disguised as chivalry. I appreciate it when someone offers to open doors for me, or insists on driving me home, or offers to pay for dinner—as long as they’re doing it because they want to, not because they feel obliged to. At the same time, I should be allowed to return the favor if I want to!
4. It’s the 21st century so there’s nothing left for feminists to fight for
We’ve come a long way when it comes to the fight for the equality of the sexes, but if you take one look at any popular media outlets, you will either see feminism being discussed under a false light, or the perpetuation of rape-culture. In other words, you’ll see rape, victim-blaming, child brides, sex trafficking, genital mutilation, honor killings, infanticide, domestic violence, forced prostitution and other crimes predominantly happening to women.
In addition to that, men are being targeted by these social outlets too, either by making them out to be rampant animals that cannot control their sex drive, or by spreading unrealistic and purely damaging expectations that affect their lives as well. Feminism aims to eliminate both in order to allow both men and women to live without objectification or oppression.
5. Feminists don’t believe in marriage
It’s hard to understand where this myth came from. Wanting to get married and start a family with somebody does not change your view on gender equality. Marriage and equality shouldn’t be opposed to one another.
6. Feminism benefits women at the expense of men
Do I need to refer you back to the definition explained in the first myth? True feminism aims to liberate both men and women by breaking down the societal standards that harm both men and women. In our current patriarchal society, men are taught to be as emotionally disconnected as possible because that represents strength or leadership. These standards are not only unhealthy but socially and emotionally confining. Feminism is supportive, not exclusive.
7. Feminists are hysterical
Here are some words you often hear associated with feminism: “hysterical,” “crazy,” “feminazi.”
Those terms have been thrown at women throughout history in order to silence them. It only strengthens the patriarchal idea that whenever a woman complains or raises her voice, she’s not being proper and needs to shut up and sit back down. Everything women say is dismissed as overly emotional, exaggerated, or “hormonal.” But it’s not hysteria, it’s common sense.
8. Feminism is only for middle-class white women
Feminism has always been a multicultural cause. However, I fully acknowledge the fact that women of color and white women may have different priorities when it comes to what needs to be addressed. We should accept this as part of the movement because today’s feminist activists are women and men of all backgrounds who seek to combat discrimination. If different social or ethnic groups are addressing the issues that concern them, then the movement as a whole will be both inclusive and effective.
Featured photo credit: Beyonce & Sophia: Feminism or Sexism? via chasegod.tv