Myth Busters: Feminism

feminism1Yesterday we tackled myths about eating disorders; today, inspired by a bout of misogyny I encountered in class, I’d like to tackle some myths concerning feminism. I guess we can consider this Myth-Busters week?

As someone who used to constantly tell people, “I’m not a feminist but… I believe that women should be treated equally/gender stereotyping is bad/[insert other feminist belief here]” I can understand the power that these myths have over people’s minds. Its scary to identify as a feminist, and open yourself up to the labels that people will then attach to you, but its freeing as well; and empowering; and exciting; and fun! So, read on,open your mind, and let your inner feminist out!

Myth: Feminists are all angry, man-hating, women – they don’t shave, and they’re all ugly, and they do not have a sense of humor.

ashley_judd-feminist

Truth: I know Rush Limbaugh once claimed that, “feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society” but I didn’t think that rational people actually listened to him. Apparently, I was wrong; I am honestly shocked by how often I run into this stereotype (to the point where I have addressed it, indirectly, in previous posts.)

This should go without saying but feminists, just like all groups of people with a similar ideology, are an incredibly diverse group. Feminism and attraction have nothing to do with one another – both straight women and gay women are feminists, although most feminists do (thankfully) support LBGTQ rights. Not all feminists are against being stay at home parents, not all feminists are outgoing with their views, not all feminists are angry (who can be angry all the time, anyway?) even though there is a lot to be upset about.

Not all feminists are opposed to shaving their body hair, although the ones that make the choice not to have valid reasons and are just as deserving of respect. Not everyone within the movement is funny, obviously, but there are funny feminists; don’t believe me? Go watch some Sarah Haskins and try to disagree!

My point: feminists are as unique as any other group of people, the stereotypes you may be familiar with have no bearing on what feminism truly is.

ken_livingstone_lFinally, feminists do not hate men! In fact, some feminists are men. Feminism is strongly opposed to the patriarchy (the power structure in society that keeps women from gaining equal footing with men) and patriarchy hurts everyone – as I have explained before. I’m a feminist and yet, I have a boyfriend… a boyfriend who is a feminist. If this stereotype were true not only would I hate him, he would have to hate himself… try and make sense out of that one!

Myth: Feminists burned bras as a means of protest.

news1_2Truth: Plain and simple? It never happened. Rumors started after a Miss America protest in Atlantic City (1968) where women did  throw bras (as well as other symbols of patriarchal feminine beauty like makeup and girdles) into a trash can… but those bras were not lit on fire!

In addition, feminists are not “anti-pretty.” Plenty of feminists, myself included, wear dresses and makeup, have long hair, wear bras (most women like the support they provide) and so on. The protests that took place, and still take place, over beauty pageants and the like are protests over the perpetuation of this beauty ideal in society that keeps women down and promotes mental issues like eating disorders. Feminism is all about choice; if you’re wearing makeup or dressing up by choice that is GREAT! However, we should not live in a society that passes judgment on women who choose to present themselves in a way that does not fit these narrow beauty norms.

Thus, bras in the trashcan = protest of beauty norms, not of bras themselves.

Myth: Feminism is useless in today’s equal society.

Truth: We have come quite a long way… but there’s a long road still ahead. In a society where 38% of it’s people believe that we are not yet ready for a woman president, small religious organizations still have the power to limit a woman’s reproductive rights, and one in six women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime (not to mention only 6% of rapists ever spend even a day in jail)… feminism’s job is far from over.

*****************************************

feminismFeminism is about choice, its about having a voice and using that voice to fight for equality for everyone who is oppressed, not just women.

Its about making a society where people don’t feel pressured to look, act, or feel a certain way… a society where we can all accept eachother, be tolerant of those who are different than us.

Feminism is not about hate, it is not about oppression… its about loving each-other enough to respect everyone’s own unique decisions; not imposing hateful views on anyone through legislation, peer pressure, or any other means.

So don’t believe what you hear – feminism is much closer than they’d like you to believe… In fact, I’m willing to bet, if you look in the mirror right now a feminist will be looking back at you, ready to be counted.

15 thoughts on “Myth Busters: Feminism

  1. Me too! Even though, I must admit, I was once one of the people insisting that “I’m not a feminist, but…” I’m just glad college managed to open my eyes to the fact that I AM a feminist, for better or for worse :)

  2. This has got to be the biggest crock of [garbage] I have ever seen. I only read a small portion of this because I think my IQ is dropping with every sentance I read.

    “small religious organizations still have the power to limit a woman’s reproductive rights” What power to limit a woman’s reproductive right? Last time I checked women still have all of the reproductive rights while men have none! What happens in these scenarios where a woman gets pregnant? The man wants the baby and the woman does not, what happens? The woman gets a abortion and her reasoning is “My body, my choice”. Now what happens if a man does not want a baby and the woman does not? She has the baby anyways and forces the father to support the unwanted child. Why can’t it be “His wallet, his choice”, but women can use “My body, my choice”? This is [garbage] caused by feminism. Male now have NO reproductive rights.

    Your entire rape statics is full of [trash], and you pulled those numbers out of your ass I would love to see where you got this: “only 6% of rapists ever spend even a day in jail” That is utter [trash] since 40% of rape cases alone are false, while little to nothing is done to clear the victims name. The whole 1 in 6 women is raped statistic is raped is [garbage] too because they used the term rape so ambiguous that almost everything constitutes as a woman being raped, and according to the standards of that statistic a huge portion of college men are raped too.

    And feminist are not man-haters? I can quote a few feminist that begs to differ.

  3. I was going to delete this due to the language and hostile tone but, whatever, I have nothing to hide & I’m certainly not scared off by foul language (although I did edit it out for the sake of my readers)

    Okay so point by point:

    – Yes it is true that men don’t have the right to weigh in one whether or not a woman gets an abortion, because its NOT THEIR BODY. They are not the ones who have to carry the baby for nine months and eventually deliver it. They are not the ones who have to deal with the social stigmatization and emotional detriments that often come with an unwanted pregnancy. At worst a man would have to pay child support for a child he did not want, but often that does not even happen because proving paternity is a fairly expensive and time consuming task. Bottom line: when its your body, you can call the shots. Furthermore, you have control over using birth control and taking the measures to prevent pregnancies before they even occur so, if it worries you that much, make sure you always use a condom. Problem solved.

    – There are many situations in which women who WANT abortions cannot get them due to laws and funding that can make access near impossible. South Dakota, for instance, only has one or two abortion clinics open at any time in the whole state due to restrictive laws that limit how the clinics can operate and block necessary funds. Many clinics require mandatory counseling sessions/waiting periods/ultrasounds before abortions to talk women out of their decision – in a great deal of cases these measures are simply annoyances but in a good number of situations (for instance, in states where there are only a handful of clinics – often very far from the pregnant woman’s home) these mandatory extra visits and waiting times can make receiving an abortion impossible. Even in terms of preventing pregnancy in the first place “conscience laws” on the books allow pharmacists to choose not to dispense birth control pills (even if the woman has a prescription, or Plan B (which does not abort a pregnancy, it simply prevents the pregnancy from occurring) to women requesting it if they “morally oppose” the medicines.

    – My rape statistics were compiled by the National Center for Policy Matters using information from the US Department of Justice… the US Department of Justice is hardly my ass, I mean, at least last time I checked. Since you asked though (however indirectly) here’s how it breaks down:

    15 OF 16 RAPISTS WILL WALK FREE

    * 61% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Those rapists, of course, never serve a day in prison.

    * If the rape is reported to police, there is a 50.8% chance that an arrest will be made.

    * If an arrest is made, there is an 80% chance of prosecution. If there is a prosecution, there is a 58% chance of a felony conviction.

    * If there is a felony conviction, there is a 69% chance the convict will spend time in jail.

    * So, even in those 39% of rapes that are reported to police, there is only a 16.3% chance the rapist will end up in prison.

    * Factoring in unreported rapes, about 6% – 1 out of 16 – of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. 15 out of 16 will walk free.

    Funny, I can’t find your 40% figure anywhere… want to point me in the direction of your source?

    – In terms of the 1 in 6 statistic its pretty simple: sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact, rape involves penetration. That hardly seems vague to me. The one thing you are right about is that, under that definition, men are counted as rape victims too. This may shock you but MEN GET RAPED TOO. Further shocking information: many feminists (like me) work to reduce the amount of men who are raped, as well as the amount of women. Obviously we do this because we hate all men.

    – As for your last point I can’t really defend individual women but all of the feminists I know (women and men) believe in equality for everyone and certainly do not hate men. Maybe it just seems that way to you… but I’ll give you a hint: feminists probably don’t dislike you because of whats in your pants, my guess is they dislike you because of your hateful attitude.

    – From Someone with a Whole Brain

  4. If feminism is about equality then why don’t men and fathers have equal rights. Why don’t women provide for men or protect men and show the desire to support us so that we can stay home. WHY ARE MEN NOT TREATED EQUALLY!! PLEASE VISIT MY BLOG at rebukingfeminism.blogspot.com as I’d LOVE to have a conversation about this.

  5. To my readers: I have deleted a large volume of comments from “Men’s Rights” because they constitute spam (all capital letters with many links to facts and figures but little coherent argument to string them together into an actual point.) However, I do not want to silence the commenter’s dissent because that’s no way to start a constructive conversation.

    I choose to keep the comment above visible because it involved the least inflammatory language and caps-locked rants, yet it still links to his or her own blog so anyone who wishes may read his or her views and make up their own minds. I don’t delete posts lightly and I only do so when those posts get in the way of real, constructive, conversation – I hope you understand.

    To “Men’s Rights”: If you wish to debate me I welcome you to comment on the issues that I raise in any one of my posts, on the relevant post of course. However, I will not allow you to make broad accusations and random attacks on unrelated posts, nor will I come attack your views on your blog. Address the points I raise, instead of dragging random figures and attacks into my blog and I will have a constructive conversation with you. If you’re not up for a constructive conversation, that’s fine, but lets not waste your time or mine with spam.

    As for your assertation about “men and fathers” not having equal rights I cannot speak for all of feminism, as I am simply one person who finds that label an accurate descriptor for herself, but in my life I have found myself working to fight all inequality – regardless of who it hurts, women or men. For instance, I am very much in favor of dismantling the stigma around stay-at-home fathers; a goal that, I believe, is inextricably tied to removing the stigma and unfair hurdles surrounding women in the workplace. I want people and couples to be free to choose the arrangement that works best for them as individuals and as a family unit, in a social climate that encourages and helps to make possible whatever that arrangement may be.

    Inclusion and equality IS feminsim to me, which is why I have a hard time understanding your hatred of my movement, my feminism.

  6. here’s the deal. first of all if you dont want to have a kid; then you should keep your pants on, and if you do want a child it should be planned and thought out. i dont support abortion as birth control, but i dont support unresponsible sex either. second, i am a seventeen year old female and i have been rapped and beaten byt two men, who both walked away without a day in jail; my word vs thiers. I am a feminist and i love men, there are some wonderful men in my life that would never do anything to hurt anyone, male or female. I love all people, there’s just some bad ones out there and being a feminist is not a way to bring men down or to rise above them. It is a way to be recongnized as a person and bring into light the injustices that many women suffer. Its taking specific action in a certain area of need. You wouldnt bash african american rights activists because they want to do for themselves what we would like to do for women, would you? All we’re asking is to be treated as equals. I would like to note, that i recognize that men have struggles too. My brother is a wonderful father and he has having trouble getting custody of his children because he lives in a motherhood state, which means the mom is favored in family court. for me being a feminist is trying to make people see past the fact that i am female, and start looking at me as a person. Men and women alike should be viewed first as people and judged on individual situations and morals, not grouped male or female. To continue to live and prosper, we all must work together, as a whole and to do so we must realize we need eachother equally.

  7. Thanks for commenting Cassie – we agree on a lot of areas! I love this point, “for me being a feminist is trying to make people see past the fact that i am female, and start looking at me as a person. Men and women alike should be viewed first as people and judged on individual situations and morals, not grouped male or female.”

    Also, I’m really sorry to hear what happened to you. I wish the legal system wouldn’t fail rape survivors like this so often, it’s such a travesty.

    However, I don’t agree totally with your “keep your pants on statement. Sex is something that two responsible, consenting adults have every right to safely engage in without producing a child. That’s why birth control like condoms and the pill are so great :) I do agree that children should be thought out though. I just think that there’s a way you can do that and still enjoy an active sex life, if you so desire.

    – J

  8. I love how a lot of guys out there see this sort of thing and turn into a negative thing about them. They must have something I like to call ‘mirror vision’, where they see something and interpret it as the complete opposite of what it means.

    I don’t even like the term feminist now. I don’t think it’ll ever be seen for what it really means.

    My biggest problem of today is in the media. All of the commercials and ads that are either something specifically for guys and super-masculine or something for girls and super-girlie or hot and sexy.

    It’s like only the really clever advertisers don’t take ques from society. And all the rest fall into that crevice (make your own jokes about that one) of set roles in what men and women have to be like. And if they’re not these things then something is wrong with them.

    Doesn’t that bother guys too?

    I don’t like the implication that I have to be polite and cute yet seductive and innocent all at the same time. I’m happy to be quite the opposite.

    And there MUST be some guys out there who are tired of the ads showing all these big muscly guys and movies where they’re the protectors with all of the responsibility and weight to carry.

    And it’s like if they’re not masculine enough then they’re instantly gay. Not that that’s really a negative, but let’s face it; a lot of guys out there aren’t gay.

    What I hate the most are children’s toy commercials. “Hey, let’s start conditioning them from the very beginning! As early as we can!”

    Don’t get me wrong, I had Barbies and I loved playing with my Polly Pocket toys. Back when they actually fit in your pocket.

    But I also loved to play with Tonka cars and action figures and Transformers and laser-tag guns, etc. Why don’t they ever show girls playing with these toys?

    I guess I understand that if a young boy was seen playing with a Barbie doll that it might imply too much of a ‘suggestion’. But come on! My brother and i used to play all the time with all of the toys we had and, trust me, both of us are perfectly fine.

    For the most part. ;p

  9. I think some of the confusion stems from the difference between feminism and equalism.

    I support both in the sense that I believe feminists have their right to pursue women’s rights to their fullest capacity and I believe in what equalists are trying to do for both sexes.

    However, to me it sounds like you are more of an equalist than a feminist, but I could be wrong.

    Do you think it would be more or less appropriate if you defined yourself as an equalist instead of a feminist?

  10. I think feminism and equalism are both words used to define the same movement often. I tend to go with “intersectional feminist” because I feel like this definition best pays homage to the history of this movement (by not dropping the word feminist) while also acknowledging the issues that feminism has had historically with including people of color/ people with disabilities/ the queer community/ etc and my commitment to helping create true equality for everyone. I actually considered switching to equalism for awhile, but I feel like it just has less of an impact right now and I really do love the feminst communities I have found so I continue to work to demonstrate feminism’s true meaning in mt life :)

  11. I stumbled across this while searching for some public domain images to go with a new post I will publish in a few days on my blog. I am astounded by some of the responses to this.

    The comments about feminists being ugly is precisely why feminism is needed. Who gives a toss whether they are beautiful or ugly (bloody subjective terms anyway). Being judged on your looks is part of the whole problem where women are subjugated – anything to put them down.

    As has been said, feminism is largely about choice and equality (although there is some pedantry around the term “equality” – I think it is more correct to talk about being equitable). I loathe the argument that “men have no reproductive rights”. Tell ya what, when you (men) start to be able to have babies, then we’ll talk some more.

    And yes – we see so often the “man-hating” comment. I have found myself within the feminist blogging community here in NZ, and consider myself among some of my dearest friends. My comment to people who talk about man-hating feminists is that they do not hate men, it is probably just you.

    J, I do kinda like Cassie’s “keep your pants on” comment because so often women are tarred with the “keep your legs together” slur. Men have to realise it goes both ways.

    http://goodgravey.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/feminism-by-men/

    Oh – and when dealing with an issue where a particular group is marginalised – one finds that the same issues come up with all other marginalised groups. The same de-rails, the same excuses, the same type of offensive comments designed to keep “them” in their place.

  12. The Brassiere, more commonly known as the Bra, was invented by a WOMAN. She created this garment to make women more comfortable; especially those women with ample cleavage so their breasts wont flop around when they move about. Who came up with the stupid idea that bras are symbols of “patriarchal feminine beauty”???

  13. Though I have never seen anything in my research about one specific person inventing the bra, which came about largely because corsets began to fall out of style and metal shortages due to WWII in the United States… its not about who invented the bra, though. These days in most professional settings and in public in general people expect women to wear bras, whether they like them or not. Thus, they got lumped in with things like makeup and high heels and tossed into the garbage can on the day that one small group of feminists protested a beauty pageant… this is what started the bra burning MYTH.

    Personally, I enjoy wearing my bras some days but I also appreciate the fact that I am comfortable going without on days that my bra hurts me (because sometimes it does) and I attribute that comfort largely to feminism, which taught me that how I look shouldn’t have to matter :)

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