1. Feminism means female supremacy
At its core, feminism is about the fight for gender equality. This does not mean that women are or should be better than men; it means that everyone should have equal opportunities and access to all areas of society. Whatever their various strengths and weaknesses, all people should have the chance to pursue whichever career or passion they desire. They may not succeed, but they should not be denied the opportunity to try based solely on their gender.
Studies from both Harvard and Yale have shown that when different employers are shown identical résumés, with the only difference being the gender of the name on the top of the résumé, employers were more likely to rate men as more desirable applicants than women, and would subsequently be more likely to hire men. Employers are more likely to judge women as less capable, less worthy of hiring, and less worthy of mentoring. It is this constantly felt, systematic, and deeply ingrained gender bias in our society that feminism seeks to combat. Women want to be given an equal chance to excel and reach their potential in society, not dominate and crush men. And this fight for equality does not mean depriving men of their rights; all people can share in the freedom of equal opportunity without any one group being denied their share of the pie.
2. Feminism only supports women who go after successful careers
Many recent attacks on feminism have claimed that feminism supports women’s choices, as long as they’re the “right ones,” meaning women who go after careers and money, and that feminists look down upon women who choose to stay at home and take care of their families. This could not be further from the truth. Feminism seeks to give women and men the freedom to choose what they want to do, meaning that they have the option to pursue whatever life path they desire. This does not mean that all people must choose the career and money path; in fact, if everyone chose this path it would be problematic. The problem with the modern patriarchy is that it often forces women into being housewives because they feel that they have no other choice (since they are often excluded or discriminated against in their desired career fields). There is no problem with a woman (or a man) choosing to take care of the family, as long as that is the option that she or he actually wants to pursue, not the path that she or he has been forced onto due to discrimination.
3. Feminists hate men
This is perhaps the most frustrating of the common misconceptions of feminism. Desiring the rights that many men are so fortunately already endowed with does not even in the slightest imply hatred. While more radical branches of feminism may have more extreme stances (as is typical of all movements), the essence of feminism is focused around the appreciation of those rights that all people supposedly have access to. While we may resent the fact that men have it easier than women in many ways in the modern patriarchy, it is clearly counterproductive to foster any feelings of hatred towards them. Change can happen only when all people work together to enfranchise the entire population; it isn’t about women versus men, but rather women and men working in unison.
4. Feminism is only for women
There is absolutely no chance that feminism can be successful if men and women don’t work together to attain the movement’s goals. Unfortunately, with the current state of the government and other bodies of influence in the United States, men dominate the upper echelons, and they are the ones who have the power to make direct systemic changes in the structure of our society. Women hold only 4.6% of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. Women comprise only 18% of all directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. Women hold only 18.5% of the seats in the United States Congress. Men control what we see and hear daily in the media, and it is only by working in concert with them that we can both acknowledge many of the flaws and biases we have built into modern-day society and work towards closing the gender gap in all industries and walks of life.
Not only would this type of change affect both men and women, it would benefit both men and women. The distorted ways in which women (and men) are portrayed every day in the media are as harmful, if not more harmful, to men than they are to women. With the hyper-sexualization and photoshopped images of women and girls that we witness daily in the media, we start to believe that the way we see women in movies, TV shows, and advertisements is the way women are: mere bodies designed for the sexual satisfaction of males. This portrayal not only sexualizes and devalues women but also teaches men to treat them like sexual objects and have unrealistic beliefs about the way women are.
When you provide only half of the population with the power to have a voice, you take away half of society’s potential for progress. When you have only half of the nation represented in the government’s policy-making bodies, you lose out on half of the perspective that our country has to offer in making important decisions. It’s not just that women need to feel more empowered because they want to; women need to be enfranchised and represented in our society for the betterment of humanity. Excluding such a substantial portion of the population from essentially all important bodies in the country is counterproductive and backwards. We, as modern-day men and women trying to better our society for generations to come, must realize that this discrimination detrimentally limits the growth of our country. It is not a choice of whether to give women greater representation; it is a necessity.
5. Feminism is scary
Feminism is not scary. If you support gender equality, you are a feminist. End of story. See? That’s not so bad.