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Feminist Isn’t a Dirty Word

I’ve heard it over and over again: “I support equal rights for women, but I wouldn’t call myself a feminist. ”It’s a statement that leaves me in awe. I mean, why would you support the ideology of feminism, but have such a strong opposition to the word?

Over time, the connotation of feminism has seemed to change. It seems now that all feminists are radical men-hating lesbians who wear pink pussyhats. These radicals are all SJWs, who believe that women are better than men and that men should live their lives in service to the female gender. Right?

Though it can reach that level of extremism, feminism, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is simply “the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” Despite that being the idea, the general public’s interpretation of feminism has seemed to shift to the idea mentioned in the previous paragraph. This shift has caused a great amount of harm to the feminist movement. Many people are now afraid to align themselves with the word, and avoid saying it, even when talking about feminist ideology. But here’s the thing. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s important to know what feminism really is, so we can stop seeing it as a dirty word.

Common Misconceptions About Feminism

1. Feminism is a sexist movement routed in misandry.

Though feminism focuses on mainly women’s issues, many feminists take time to focus on male issues such as mental health, toxic masculinity, and advocacy for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Feminism is not about how women are better than men, it's about advancing the rights of both genders.

2. All feminism is radical.

Though some feminists support more radical ideas, it is important to remember that this group is very small, and does not represent the entire feminist ideology It’s also important to ask yourself what about “radical” feminism makes it radical. Sometimes a radical idea might just be a new idea you don’t understand. Researching and asking questions is always a great idea, and helps to foster healthy conversations.

3. Feminism forces women to hide their femininity and break traditional roles.

Feminism does not force women to behave a certain way. Though some women may find liberation dressing more masculine, or working in a job typically made for men, not all women do (and they don’t have to!). In fact, feminism supports the stay-at-home moms who cook and clean just as much as they support the women who are more masculine and choose to participate in the workforce. Being a feminist doesn’t force you to be a woman in a specific way, it allows you to be the woman you want to be.

4. I’m a man, I can’t be a feminist.

Anyone can be a feminist! Again, feminism isn’t just to help women, it’s to help everyone! All feminists must have the exact same ideas on what feminism is. Though a lot of feminists have overlapping ideas on the topic, it isn’t uncommon that some may disagree on certain topics, and that’s completely okay.

5. Women can vote/receive equal pay/have rights/etc. Feminism isn't needed anymore.

Though women have had a lot of advancements in rights over time, the playing field still isn’t equal. There are still many instances of inequality and discrimination, especially for women of color, LGBT women, and women in poverty.

Though these are not the only misconceptions, it is most definitely a start to breaking our bias against the word and opens the doors for people to proudly call themselves feminists once more.

For more information on feminism, visit the link here for Stanford University’s list of feminist websites, blogs, and resources.

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