Yesterday 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.
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.
Finally, 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.
Truth: 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.
Feminism 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.