The word “feminism” carries a lot of weight these days. Unfortunately, people are afraid to refer to themselves as feminists because of the popular but negative interpretations of feminism and what it stands for. It’s clear that there are some serious misconceptions about what it means to be a feminist, so I gathered some intel from the source… actual feminists. After talking with a handful of women, I created a list of some of the more common lies that are spread about feminism, and what you can do to combat ignorance and encourage forward thinking.
1. “Feminists are just man-haters.”
By far, the most common misconception out there about feminists is that we hate men. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s just a straight lie. Feminism is officially defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Nowhere here does it say that feminists have to hate men. If you’ve met a feminist that hates men, that her problem. And your problem. But not ours.
2. “Feminists believe women are superior to men.”
I don’t think we can stress enough that equality doesn’t mean superiority. Wanting to fix the wage gap doesn’t mean that women want to take your jobs and your money. We just want to be equal, dammit. Feminist goals are to provide equal opportunities to men and women, so there are feminist groups all over the country that promote things like trans rights, awareness for domestic abuse towards men and members of the LGBTQ community, and other issues that affect men, such as battles with child custody and unfair masculine expectations. Here are some examples of feminist organizations doing just that: Maryland NOW/ Family Place.
3. “Feminists never want to get married.“
There are some women who refer to themselves as feminists and do not want to get married because they simply don’t believe in the social system and its values. And that’s totally okay, and feminism is a movement that gives her the right to believe that. However, there are equally as many women who refer to themselves as feminists who are happily married to a man/woman, have a family, etc. The actions of one person do not reflect the values of a movement. Feminism allows men and women to be free to make their own choices at their own discretion. Making generalizations that exclude individualism is frankly anti-feminist.
4. “Feminists are just out to spread propaganda.”
First of all, what the hell is feminist propaganda, anyway? Why do we have to label something as propaganda just because a point of moral judgment is being expressed? If the media can exploit female sexuality for the pleasure of masculinity, then we’re allowed to spread the message of respect and equality for all genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, etc. for the sake of a more educated society. Someone writing an article about an injustice towards a woman isn’t feminist propaganda out to blame men. It’s an attempt to show how our values as a society have failed, and bring attention to the need to fix it. We’re not trying to “blame” anyone, we’re trying to make ourselves heard.
5. “Feminists are lesbians.”
Okay, seriously? Believing a woman has the same rights as a man automatically dictates her sexuality? Feminists come from all backgrounds, all sexualities, and are simply calling for a reformation in our patriarchal roots. Feminism never has been and never will be a means to define one’s sexuality, so stop trying to make it that way. Feminism should be inter-sectional, accepting of all sexualities, genders, races, etc.