Do they know what feminism really is?

feminism

I found this lovely quote in a teenager girl’s blog, in a post where she explains why she is a feminist, (via http://hijabihomegirl.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/i-am-a-feminist/) and where she highlights the main misconceptions about feminism in the media.

The fact that this teenager is a Muslim speaks strongly about the fallacy of common Muslim women’s stereotype as submissive and brainwashed victims.

She notes that often feminism is mistakenly given the wrong connotation and that this is affecting the way women and young girls relate to the concept entirely, with (ironically) many of them rejecting the label of “feminist”. This phenomenon includes seemingly “empowered” women celebrities such as Katy Perry, for example, who recently declared in an interview “I am not a feminist”. This is indeed very sad, considering how young girls look up to these celebrities.

Why would women and girls feel TODAY the need to distance themselves from a movement that has done SO MUCH for advancing women’s social inclusion, human rights, freedom and self-respect?

Do they actually know that feminism’ s main goal is to reach gender equality?

From many recent magazines articles I am reading, I don’t think it is so. The word “feminism” is now more and more commonly associated in very radical terms with misandry. We should make a constant effort to change this wrong conception and give feminism the glory it deserves. Girls should not be fooled into confounding the two concepts: if it’s required that to change their false assumptions we need to plaster public walls and post pictures like the one above in every social media outlets, so be it!

 

13 thoughts on “Do they know what feminism really is?

  1. I appreciate most of the sentiment of the quote, but I wish that women felt more open about alliances with women who are lesbian or bisexual. I have a hard time with seeing “dyke” used in a derogatory way.

    I totally agree with your point that it’s counterproductive to distance from the women’s movement. I think some young women think that struggles for equality are completely in the past, but this is unfortunate–think of women like Lilly Ledbetter!

  2. I do think that there are many women who do know what it is and have legitimate reasons to not affiliate with the movement. I think people (women *and* men) should be educated on what feminism is, but more importantly, I think that women should be educated on a variety of gender-centered social theories and given the chance to choose which theory they want to align themselves with and which they don’t. Personally, I choose to align myself with womanism rather than feminism.

    • Wow Shawn, I was thinking the same as I read this post and flicking through the comments you worded my thoughts perfectly.

      A lot of the time it’s the name that makes people switch off!

  3. Kate Nash said that so well didn’t she? Even I cringe a little when I hear the word feminism and I’m not sure why. I feel a little embarrassed to say that, but maybe that’s the only way for us all to get over it and not avoid the conversations or issues at hand.

    • As a male I have similar feelings about the term. It’s just another way to label you as something where people will come to conclusions that are incorrect. I am guilty of it as well and it’s not our fault that we’ve been conditioned to immediately assume certain things about someone based on a title they give themselves. I think the only label I allow myself to fall under is vegetarian and even then it carries some baggage.

      It really is a shame because there are so many points that I do agree with and I am a supporter of gender equality and quick to argue with anyone making sexist claims. I guess it is like religion. I am not religious at all but there are huge parts of Christianity and Buddhism that appeal to me, meanwhile on the other hand there are parts that are just so against what I believe that I would never label myself as such. Rather than giving labels to things we should probably focus on individual beliefs and at the same time be accepting of what others thing, but one positive part of feminism or other belief systems is that it draws attention to the matters and with enough effort you can overcome the negatives and not let it be ignored.

      • As a man myself I totally agree with Themisterdel. Indeed, most feminists aren’t sexists but the ones that publicly and vociferously declare themselves feminists for life are the ones that made the word “feminism” sound sexist.

        You don’t need to be a woman in order to support the feminism believes and principles, everyone can be a feminist and I think this will be very beneficial because it can greatly improve how feminism is seen by both sexes. I recommend you read “Feminism is for everyone” by Bell Hooks to better understand this whole concept.

  4. I’ll admit that I did not really understand what feminism was until coming to this website. I still have some questions and things that I am researching, but it’s great that there are places where people are standing up for what they believe in and working to educate others. Knowledge is power. I’ve never even heard of ‘Womanism’ before today, so I guess I have more work to do. Thanks!

  5. I attended a private all women’s high school and then went on to attend a private all female university. I found that I was misguided by what feminism meant and so were majority of the women I encountered. The depiction of feminism that was presented to me always appeared to be one-dimensional or rather an all or nothing approach. You were for free birth control and equal pay for equal work or you were not able to call yourself a feminist. Furthermore, some would even label you anti-women.

    All of this was preposterous and led me to disassociate myself with the feminist movement. I will say that my decision was unfair to the majority of women who properly live by feminist ideals, I did not necessarily give them a fair shot and wrote off the whole concept after being exposed to a few I did not care for. I, like those who attempted to isolate or include me, had misconceptions about the other.

    The definition appears to still be up for interpretation and that leaves me with far more research to do. Like all things over time the meaning gets hijacked or the initial principles no longer apply, I just remain hopeful that we all can move forward as women together…title or no title.

    • Hi Jessica, the more I listen the more I find confirmation that somewhat feminism has been the subject of a very cleverly devised ‘negative propaganda’ on the part of our culture (what it’s commonly referred in the literature as “feminism backlash”!). The ideas and concepts behind a movement which is supposed to act for gender equality and women empwerment (that’s is, women reaching the same rights and benefits accorded to men) have been intentionally turned and twisted to signify very different and somewhat extreme things (ie. refusal of beauty & fashion rituals like not shaving your legs, wearing of bra/high heels or men-hating). This wrong idea of feminism has effectively turned many women away from the movement: most of them – particularly the young ones – live with a misconception of feminism which is difficult to change in their mind as it has been ingrained into their mind by a countless number of messages received throughout their childhood. I say difficult, but not impssible. Social media and the advent of new technologies are allowing unprecendent access to new information so that many myths can be dismantled. This is a moment when we can really express feminism’s true voice and make people understand what it’s all about: we can revert the damage caused by the negative propaganda by simply making our voice louder than ever…in the end I believe the truth will prevail. I would emphasise our friendship and respect of men/boys, instead of separation and differences. Educating also young boys to interact with girls as equal (see for example the project ‘greatmenvaluewomen’ in London secondary schools) and dissolving gender stereotypes should go a long way to promote positive changes in our future society. I know many feminist men and firmly believe they should be our ally: there is not other way forward then through unity and collaboration 😉

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