7 Things Feminists Always Have To Explain To Everybody Else
1. That feminism is the organized advocacy on behalf of the rights of women. As an ideology it is the concept that men and women are equal socially, economically and politically. Understanding this is a crucial basis for also understanding misconceptions within the movement.
2. That not agreeing with one aspect of it does not count as an “excuse” as to why you are against it. With any ideology, you do not have to subscribe to every part of it. Such is the case with religion, spirituality, politics, etc. The people who say that they do not believe in feminism, or they are anti-feminism may be caught in the idea that associating with that term automatically makes them pro-abortion (an issue which I will discuss in a moment) or means you don’t want to get married and have children if that’s what you most aspire to be and do, but it is not true. It simply means that all women should have the choice to do with their lives and bodies what they please, and our social, political, cultural and economic grounds should be able to facilitate that. Because imagine if getting married and having children was against the norm and you weren’t able to choose that.
3. Identifying as a feminist does not mean that you hate men. The movement is rooted in equality, and sometimes it can be misinterpreted because of the name, or because it seems to focus more heavily on women, and that is because the point is to advocate for equality by the way in which, at large, women are discriminated against within our culture and society. In fact, I would go as far as to argue that feminism helps men: it derails the idea that one gender is superior to another, and thus removes societal pressures and expectations of men who do not fit into quintessentially masculine gender roles– which, if we’re being realistic, few men do.
4. The pay gap is still a big deal… and yes, it is legitimate. In fact, it is both a perpetuation of the idea that women are less valuable and a subconscious slight to keep women out of money and therefore out of equal power. People will conduct research and argue that the pay gap statistics do not take into consideration the fact that women have to juggle both work and family, that they take maternity leave, etc. but they are all merely excuses.
5. Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion, i.e. abortion can be something you don’t believe in and but you can still believe that other women should be able to choose much like you are choosing for yourself. This would theoretically fall under the category of reproductive rights and legislation– so while we’re on the topic, the reality is that women are going to have abortions if that’s what they want, one way or another. We are doing everybody a favor by facilitating safe environments and doctors to do so. If not that, the fact that there are limiting laws and regulations regarding ease of access to birth control, or that there is a stigma against taking it, leaves women with few options regarding their own health.
6. Rape culture is real and is horrifying, and if you have any doubts about how deeply ingrained into our culture misogyny is take a look at microaggressions. Insults and curse words largely derive from women-related things. Having “balls” means having courage. It is a semester not an ovemester. This is built into our everyday language. Women are sexually objectified in a way men are not. We treat rape as a joke. Women are blamed for what is done to them. We imply that women need to be afraid walking out to their cars at night in ways that men do not.
7. Feminism is not like the stereotypes. Feminism is most often criticized for being “demeaning” toward other groups people, for not supporting these other groups, or as mentioned, even wanting to achieve supremacy over them. But the truth is that feminism is no different than any other advocacy group that focuses on one area of injustice in the world. It’s very sad that there are so many issues that we need to work toward resolving in our culture, and just because some people have committed themselves to feminism does not mean they are necessarily anti- anything else. Feminism works to remove inequities in one aspect of society, and to do that, sometimes light must be shed on them… there is no effort to be “anti” man or anything else.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”