*I will be using the word feminist/feminism in this article quite a bit but I use that term to refer to intersectional feminism. An intersectional feminist is someone who believes that, in feminism, there are different levels of equality existing today. Not every person is white, middle class, cis-gendered, and able-bodied, and we need to address this in our fight for equality.
This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Women's March on Washington in Washington DC. Overall, it was fabulous. Me and two of my friends attended the rally (where people like Scarlett Johansson, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Madonna, Alicia Keys, and more both spoke and/or performed) and the march afterward where more than 500,000 people marched through the streets of Washington DC. With anything of that nature, there were parts that I disagreed with and parts that I embraced wholeheartedly. I think that often it can be difficult to remind ourselves that even in the face of injustice we need to do all things through love. And that's okay- we're all learning. But we do need to be called out when this happens and I felt like that happened with a couple of the speeches I listened to. And it can be incredibly difficult not to do that. But each and every one of us has growth to experience no matter how much life we've lived.
I'm glad that I was able to notice things where I said, "You know, there's probably a better way to go about this" because that means that I'm letting the issues and my beliefs inform me instead of other people. But, I am so very proud to have been apart of making history and standing up for the rights of ALL people. It was an absolutely unforgettable experience that I will forever be something that will be incredibly meaningful to me. It was wonderful to be in a place where women and men and everyone in between was fighting for and believing in the same things that I do.
But for those who aren't actively involved in the world of women's/PoC/LGBTQ+/etc rights, it's very easy to have the wrong understanding about about what this whole movement is for, especially the movement of feminism. I am a (intersectional) feminist and though you may or may not be a feminist you probably agree with me on most of the points I believe. Maybe not, but I bet some of you will be surprised. Somewhere along the line this giant miscommunication happens which paints us, feminists, as these crazy people who think that women are better than men and think that shaving your armpits is a sin. Hopefully, I'll be able to put a couple of those myths to rest and help articulate that feminists aren't that radical at all. They're just normal people who are fighting for human rights.
Myth #1: Feminists are only women.
Nope. A feminist is anyone who believes in the rights of women. You can be a feminist if you are a man, a women, or otherwise gender nonconforming. In fact, I would be absolutely disappointed if only women were feminists.
Myth #2: Feminists believe that women are better than men.
The whole point of feminism is to secure that women are equal to men. Anyone who believes that women are above men is not a feminist.
Myth #3: Feminists believe that to be a feminist, as a women, you can't want to stay home and be a mom and love cooking.
Actually not at all. The whole point of feminism is that women can do other things. They can be president if they want. They can be the CEO of a fortune 500 company. They can be a stay-at-home mom. They can be a mom who also chooses to have a professional job. The point is, that a woman's place is any place.
Myth #4: But women are already equal to men. I don't experience any oppression in my life.
Women are much better off than they used to be. No one is denying that. But the fight is not over. Women still make less than a man's dollar (yes, this is a fact). Women are constantly told as they grow up that they need to be pretty and pleasing to men, while men, for the most part, are not taught that in order for them to have worth, that women need to like them.
Intersectional feminism is an inclusive movement. That means that we have to think about all people in our fight. Those who are people of color, people with disabilities, people of different religions, people of the LGBTQ+ community, and more. Some people experience worse levels of oppression than others and that's an important view that cannot be overlooked.
Myth #5: Feminists are those people that don't shave their armpits or legs and sometimes dye their hair crazy colors.
They can be. And they might not be. Again, the key to this lies in the 'can'. This trend started because women shaving their arms and legs was a societal expectation created by companies hoping to make a profit. These women who choose to do that, do it in a hope that they want to make their own decisions about their body and not have society decide for them. Plus, they really aren't hurting you with their decisions are they?
Myth #6: Feminists hate men.
The fact that is this is a point that even needs to be addressed really makes me sad. This is absolutely has no grounds.
Most of these myths have been written about before. You've probably heard some of them if not all of them. But perhaps you've never really taken the time to look into them and understand them. I hope that maybe you'll want to start asking more questions and starting more discussions. Not just about feminism but about equality in all subjects. Starting a discussion or conversation about these topics might seem daunting but it's worth it. Educate yourself about the issues that are happening right now. Become active. This is the world that you are going to live in so be apart of it!