Feminism: What You Think vs. What It Is
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Politics and Activism

Feminism: What You Think vs. What It Is

Believe it or not, they aren't the same.

Feminism: What You Think vs. What It Is
Meredith Corporation

I bet I can guess your thoughts while clicking on this article. "Oh great, here's another privileged white girl yelling about equality for women while she drinks her non-fat caramel macchiato and does nothing about it." Well, I'm going to stop you right there for two reasons. One, I believe in drinking full-fat lattes. Two, the purpose of this article isn't to yell some random, vague statements about feminism designed to make the entire world offended. The purpose is to disprove common misconceptions about feminism using support from various sources and my own brand of humor.

This will be difficult in and of itself, since "feminism is often spoken about as if there were a 'true' and authentic feminism, unified and consistent over time and in any one place, even if fragmented in its origins and at specific historical moments;" however, feminism has a widespread definition that is difficult to pin down (Delmar 9). Hopefully, this article will help bring about some sort of relatable definition of what feminism is by proving what it is not. Enjoy, my lovely readers.

"Feminism is just for rich, white women."

A common definition for feminism is the aim "to make women the social equals of men" (hooks 18). Seems pretty easy, right? America will pass a couple of laws, make sure everyone gets paid the same, and everyone's happy, correct? Unfortunately, it's not that simple. One of the biggest problems of that meaning is the words "women" and "men" because, when one takes the time to look into them, the two words represent so much more than the average individual usually realizes. What kind of women is being discussed here? If the answer is "all," what does that mean? Upper-class women? Hispanic women? Transgender women? The same concept applies to the "men" in the above definition. What "men" do "women" aspire to be equal to? Lower-class men? African American men?

The unfortunate reality of society is that there are several different levels of equality within the categories of "men" and "women;" however, this is the starting point for feminism itself. If the general aim is equality for all, then isn't feminism for everyone?

"Feminism means putting women above men because they all hate men."

As you saw in the last section, there are different levels of equality, so attempting to place "women" above "men" is inherently impossible; however, even when that is disregarded, this idea that feminists are man-haters is entirely counterproductive to their general goal for equality for all. In the past, feminists "insisted that men were 'the enemy,' the cause of all our problems. As a consequence, we [meaning feminists] examined almost exclusively women's relationship to male supremacy and the ideology of sexism" (hooks 25). This concept also limits the potential impact of feminism because it focuses only on sexism in regards to women even though there are a number of other oppressions that feminism could positively influence as well.

"Feminism just wants to topple the patriarchal institution."

This is not only incorrect, it's incredibly irresponsible. Think about it: if the patriarchal system (meaning the way our society is male-dominated) was eliminated, then another system would have to replace it, which "run[s] the very real risk that the dominant ideology of the culture is reduplicated in the feminist movement through cultural imperialism" (qtd. in hooks 26-7). This idea that feminism would take the place of the patriarchy goes against the central idea of equality of feminism.

"Feminism only applies to the idea of equal pay for women."

Feminism, while important for the idea of equal pay, isn't only applicable to economic rights for women. Ultimately, "feminism is the struggle to end sexist oppression. Its aim is not to benefit solely any specific women, any particular race or class of women. It does not privilege women over men. It has the power to transform in a meaningful way all our lives" (hooks). Feminism can be intersected (or combined, put simply) with many identities like gender, sex, sexuality, class, race, religion, and others to strive for equality throughout

In short, feminism has the power to impact our society positively, and limiting it with these statements is unjust to the core beliefs of the movement.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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