That one word that people roll their eyes at. Begins with F. Shouldn’t be as controversial as it is, and yet it makes some people feel so uncomfortable. Perhaps if I were male, people wouldn’t feel the need to bite back at me for letting it slip from my mouth. Have you guessed it yet?
I’m talking about feminism. Yes, that concept so crucial to today’s society, despite many still considering it taboo.
But why? Why do I feel as if I’m confessing my sins at a feminists anonymous meeting, every time I tell a group of guys at work or school or a party that I am – god forbid – a feminist? Too many times, I’ve been faced with snarky replies. “Oh no, you’re not one of them.” “'Watch out for the femi-nazi.”
A lot of it comes down to misunderstanding. People get muddled up in the inaccurate representation of what exactly a feminist is. So here we are, folks: these are the misconceptions I’m fed up with, when it comes to feminism.
1. We’re all man haters
Feminism revolves completely around the idea of political, economic and social equality of the sexes. Equality. It’s not a matter of squabbling our way to the top, and shoving men to the ground. It’s about realising, funnily enough, we’re all human beings. We all want fair treatment (crazy, I know) whether that be equal pay, or equal respect when it comes to sex and consent.
2. Feminism is just a trend
It’s a good thing that feminism is such a mainstream topic. It needs recognition. Take the Time’s Up campaign at the Golden Globes, for example, which raised awareness of our intolerance of sexual assault. But here’s the thing: we shouldn’t simply brand ourselves as a feminist because it’s cool and fashionable. Firstly, feminism has been around too long to just be the latest craze. It’s the reason (some) women got the right to vote in the UK, in 1918, for a start. Feminism is not just an aesthetic. So don’t sit there in your “this is what a feminist looks like” T-shirt, while you slut shame somebody’s new Facebook image, followed by some “boys will be boys” remark. You don’t need to be a radical feminist, just educate yourself on the movement at least.
3. Men can’t be feminists
Again, back to whole equality thing. As a feminist, I think domestic abuse towards men is just as important to tackle than abuse towards women. As a feminist, I think that men can pursue female orientated jobs, like nursing, just as much as females should get involved in male dominated STEM subjects. As more women work, economies grow, effecting everybody. Male issues aren't less important, it's just a case of women being marginalised when you look at the big picture. However, I don’t think men should support feminism simply because it will help them too, but if they genuinely want equality, it's not difficult to be a feminist ally. Does something really need to benefit you directly for you to realise it’s a decent thing to do, or are people just that selfish these days?
4. Feminism is just a first world issue
If you feel that feminism is unnecessary in today’s society, not only are you wrong, but you’re not considering the fact that our society doesn’t reflect everyone else’s. Some of the things you may take for granted are still unattainable for many women in other countries. Only last year were women given the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. In Morocco, daughters have no inheritance rights. Over 200 million females alive today have experienced genital mutilation. But why the hell do we need feminism, right?
5. Feminism can only be white
Feminism should not be exclusive to white people. If your feminism only caters to white women, you're doing it wrong. This movement should be intersectional, encouraging all of us to check our privileges and work towards better standards for everyone. You’re probably aware of the gender pay gap, but are you aware that this pay gap is generally even bigger if you’re Hispanic or a woman of colour? Yes, it’s tiring being called the femi-nazi, but some people have to fight off the ‘angry black woman’ label on top of that too.
So there we are. Call me a bra burning, man eating, misandrist, but I’m sorry to tell you that perhaps you just don’t get it.