Why Do Some People Treat 'Feminist' Like It's a Dirty Word?

 

Note: This was a post I wrote in 2016 and I reposted it for personal use.

Hailing from a conservative southern background, I grew up surrounded by people (mostly my peers) who looked down on feminism, or condemned it for it's "radical matriarchal ideals." As I got older and began to broaden my horizons, I realized what feminism was truly about, and how important it is to our society. I'm here to shatter the typical misconceptions that accompany identifying as a "feminist" or, as I've fondly dubbed it, the "F Word."

1. Every feminist is a liberal and/or or voting for Hillary Clinton

Simply because Hillary is a female, does not automatically mean she gets my, or any other feminist's vote. Being a woman does not mean one is qualified for presidency. However, I support Hillary's right to run, and the possibility that we could one day have a female POTUS. Would I love to see a female in office? Hell yes. Does this mean I want it to be Hillary? Not necessarily.

2. You can't be a feminist and still wax/shave.

You'll never catch me rocking hairy pits in the name of feminism. Sorry not sorry. News flash: This doesn't make me any less of a feminist or advocate for the feminist cause.

3. You have to participate in "free bleeding" or walk around topless in public to prove a point to be labeled a "true feminist".

My choice to not participate in these extremist activities does not mean I am not a true member of the feminist movement. You can contribute to feminism by simply speaking out, educating others, and yourself. There has been a socially constructed definition of a feminist and I'm here to say that its bull sh*t. I don't look down on women making public statements as the ones mentioned above, I'm simply saying you can still support feminism with your hygiene and clothing in tact.

4. Women can't be feminine and feminist at the same time.

I work in the fashion and beauty industry,  I wear makeup, heels, curl my hair, and get my nails done. Do I fit your description of what a feminist should look like? Do Jennifer Lawrence, Beyonce, Emma Watson, and a plethora of other feminist public figures fit this stereotype? No. That's why this misconception is exactly that- a misconception.

5. We believe and support the social and economic equality of only women.

feminism |ˈfeməˌnizəm|

noun; the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

Did you catch that little word in there? Equality. Which leads me to my next point.

6. Women should only empower other women to succeed because men have the upperhand.

Feminists who are fully educated on the meaning understand that being a part of this movement does not mean bringing down or shaming men. In fact, I love men. As do many other feminists. I truly believe that no matter someone's gender, we should support and empower one another. It just so happens that women are historically fighting an uphill battle to gain respect from their male counterparts in the workplace.

7. All feminists are crazy lesbian women trying to fight for power and matriarchy.

As I've mentioned, there is no particular physical image a feminist should embody. We are fighting for equality, and a matriarchy does not equate to the form of gender equality we are striving for. We are not living in the mindset that women are better than men. We are dreaming and fighting for a reality where one's gender does not delineate income, social treatment, and career aspirations (to name a few).

8. Only women can be feminists.

Feminism is historically a multicultural cause. Today's feminist activists and figures are women and men of all walks of life who seek to combat racism, sexism, classism, ageism, etc. I have quite a few male friends who identify as feminists AND GUESS WHAT?! It doesn't make them any less of a masculine or manly (which seems to one of the issues surrounding men's hesitance to support the feminist movement).

9. Feminism is detrimental to men.

Just as women are held to socially constructed gender roles and norms, so are men. Guess what? It's unfair. As a feminist, I realize that men don't have the full benefit of equality either. Feminism is attempting to put an end to not just gender roles for women, but those for men too. It supports the idea of men not having to succumb to the societal pressures of being the the bread winner and someone with superhuman strength as much as it advocates that women be allowed to break out of stereotypes.

To wrap up, I'll quote one of my favorite feminist figures: 

It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be freer. It’s about freedom.
— Emma Watson