Feminism has gotten bad press for a very long time due to fear of change. That time is spent in the media dunce corner gave it some fun, inaccurate stereotypes (witch and child killer, anyone?). After doing some very insulting research on the web, I bring you some of the most common misconceptions about feminism and tear them into pieces.
1. Feminists are not man-haters.
I think it’s fair to say that the insult feminists hear most often is “Man hater,” which just is not right. Here’s why: when you are a feminist, it means that you are also anti-sexism, that you don’t want anyone to be discriminated against because of gender… including men. So saying that feminists hate men on principle? Totally unsupported. Most feminists enjoy the company of men, date men, birth men, and even have been raised by men (in part). They’re part of our lives. Hating them all? That would be unreasonable. That being said, there are some men who feminists hate collectively *cough Rush Limbaugh* but it’s because of their viewpoints, not their genitalia. The more fair statement would be: feminists dislike people who have and support misogynistic ideas in theory and in action, no matter the gender or species.
2. Feminists are not taking away men’s rights.
The Men’s Rights Movement isn’t hard to explain: it’s the idea that men are oppressed, and the rise of feminism is causing their issues to be downplayed and straight out ignored. However, to fully explain the implications of the Men’s Rights Movement, I would need a whole article. So, I’m going to send you over to HuffPost to let Anne Theriault explain “Why the Men’s Rights Movement is Garbage” to you. What I will say on the matter though is that feminists do not want men to suffer while women thrive. That wouldn’t be feminism, in fact, it would be sexism.
3. Feminists are not bra burners.
Feminists burn your bras! Join the sisterhood! Let the titties free! While I’m all for letting the titties free, the idea that feminists actually stood around a burning trash can and threw their bra’s in is false. This myth comes from a protest of the Miss America contest in 1242, where feminists gathered outside the event and symbolically threw bra’s, girdles, and other things that represent how women are tortured to fit the standards of beauty – into a trash can. Sources say they meant to burn them, but fire restrictions wouldn’t let them. Alas, it would have made for some good pictures.
4. Feminists are not all lesbians.
If you thought other misconceptions were silly, try this one on for size. “Feminists are all lesbians”. Right. This one, though idiotic, is easier to explain than the steeped-in-history-and-sociological-issues misconceptions. It’s based on the idea that feminists hate men. While we’ve already come to the conclusion that that’s generally not true, that doesn’t mean it can’t be. It’s true that some feminists hate men, but that doesn’t “turn” them lesbian. Someone doesn’t just “turn” homosexual.
Feminism sure doesn’t turn people into lesbians, but does it make it more acceptable to be one? Hell yeah! Feminism teaches women that they don’t need to adhere to the “I serve my husband and raise my children” classic gender roles, and by breaking that mold, feminists make it easier for some lesbians to feel “allowed” to express their sexuality. After all, building gender equality means building equality for all types of other marginalized groups as well.
5. Feminists are not all fat, hairy, or ugly.
Ah, the classic argument. All feminists are fat, hairy, and ugly. Wow! Such insight, much thought process, very wrong, so bullshit. As we’ve explored above, the hatred for feminists come from (mostly) men who are afraid of the social situation changing and taking away their place in society. So what do men do? They call us the three worst things you call a woman (aesthetically speaking) – fat, ugly, and hairy.
Let’s think about the image of beauty in our culture. What words do we come up with? Skinny, pretty, and waxed within an inch of my life come to my mind. How about yours? When we compare fat/ugly/hairy to skinny/pretty/waxed, we find that men (mostly) simply took the standards of beauty that society defined, and simply stated their opposites as if they were the worst things in the world. Creative, right? But here’s the thing: you don’t have to be ugly/fat/hairy to qualify as a feminist. There is no test we give you where your “fuckability” decides whether or not you get to join our club. Seriously! We just believe in women’s equality, that’s it.
So, am I actually just an ugly fat hairy bitch sitting behind a keyboard? I could be, that’s the fun of anonymity. Take a look at these feminists who are fighting back by posting flawless selfies under the sarcastic #feministsAreUgly.
6. Feminists are not angry all the time.
This is true. To quote the article, “I Am Not an Angry Feminist. I’m a Furious One” by Madeline Davies, most of the time, we’re fucking furious. Have you educated yourself about how shitty women are treated worldwide lately? It’s infuriating! Feminists have a LOT they are entitled to be mad about such as old white men trying to control our uteruses (uteri?), being told that our worth depends solely on our sexual “purity”, getting paid thirty-three cents less than the average man, and you know, being seen as fat, ugly, hairy, man-hating, tit-waving, dykes. *No anti-dyke hate meant. You would be angry too if other people went around all the time telling you your opinions are wrong, your thoughts invalid, and your issues non-existent. I promise.
7. Feminists are not all female or woman-identified.
This is a super important one! There is a notion that one has to have a vagina to be a feminist, and I promise you, that’s not true. As we’ve gone over, the only requirement to feminism is the belief that women deserve to have the equal rights and treatments as men do. There’s no gender clause. The reason that this is my favorite misconception is that I can open people’s lives up to feminism because hey! FEMINISM IS FOR EVERYONE! It doesn’t matter your race, social class, language, culture, religion, or genitalia – if you believe in women’s equality, we want you
8. Feminists are not all sluts or prudes.
Oh, slut shaming! Our old friend! Come in here and let me pretend to give you a hug while actually murdering you! *washes the blood off hands* The idea that feminists are sluts or prudes also comes from, can you guess the emotion? Fear! That’s right. Telling a woman her sexuality is something to be ashamed of comes out of the legitimate fear that if she thinks that her sexuality is okay – that she will turn promiscuous… immediately.
Don’t believe me? Fact time! Did you know that it took the FDA years to finally agree to put Plan B in pharmacies, even with its ridiculous price and age restriction? Three years! Doesn’t sound long? Think back to middle school. Middle school lasted three years and was probably the longest three years of your life. Yeah, case and point. There were arguments that, and I quote directly, “over-the-counter status for Plan B could cause “extreme promiscuous behaviors such as the medication taking on an ‘urban legend’ status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults centered around the use of Plan B.” – Janet Woodcock.
Woah, teenage sex cults?! NO! Anything but teenage sex cults! This is where the root slut shaming comes from: the mistrust of women to be responsible with their sexuality. It’s that simple. So to halt this dooming fate of sex cults. The scared people decided that deciding slutty women were less of people, and thus should keep women away from the sex.
Remember, literally nothing is wrong with your sexuality – unless it involves hurting people mentally or emotionally without their explicit and age-appropriate consent!
9. Feminists are not all anti-stay-at-home-mom (on 1 condition).
There is a good amount of feminists on both sides of the “stay at home mom” argument. The anti-side says that society is oppressing women into not doing anything with their lives. The pro-side says that it wouldn’t be feminism if we didn’t support women doing what they want. As for my take? There’s truth in both sides, but I lean more towards the pro group.
What both sides agree on is that it’s not fair to just expect women to conform to the classic stay at home housewife and mom scenario. We believe that every woman can do big things and that limiting her options would be hurting her. The thing is, if she wants to be a stay-at-home mom more than anything else, that’s her decision. The anti-side would argue that it’s because of the gender roles she saw as a child and other societal norms and expectations. The pro-side would agree in part, but respects her right to choose.
Bottom line? Forcing women into gender roles = bad. Women who find they consensually fit into gender roles = individuals who can make their own decisions.
Davies, Madeline. “I Am Not an Angry Feminist. I’m a Furious One.”
Theriault, Anne. “Why the Men’s Rights Movement is Garbage.”
Valenti, Jessica. “The Purity Myth.”