I have been proud to don the label “feminist” for years now. I am blessed to attend a school in a town that is fairly progressive and receptive of positive change. Throughout my time as a student at the University of Michigan, minoring in Community Action and Social Change through the School of Social Work, I’ve had the opportunity to take classes focusing on feminism, women's studies, and social change. I’ve been looked down on for calling myself a feminist, and I have been told that this “F-word” is a dirty word. Today, I am going to debunk a few of the myths of feminism and address some of the misconceptions about what it means to be one.
I do want to make it clear that this is my experience, and mine alone. I am a white, middle-class female living in the United States attending a state university. I definitely do not know all sides of the female experience, and I do not know everything about the topic. I’m interested in sharing the information I do have in hopes of presenting important aspects of feminism and the push for positive change in gender equality in our world today. So here we go, common misconceptions of feminism:
1. I am not trying to attack you
If I have learned anything as a social change agent, it’s that many people tend to think that I want my ideas and views to be accepted as the only ideas and views out there. This isn’t true. By being an advocate for positive change in gender equality, I want to share my views, and try to explain the disparities in gender in the world today.
2. I am not a man-hater
Feminism is about gender equality, not about hating one gender. Feminists are focused on improving the lives of all genders, and all identities. I have really great men in my life, as role models, caregivers, and some of my best friends. As a feminist, I enjoy engaging in dialogue with my male friends. Feminism also focuses on redefining all gender roles to help both genders. Men are allowed to be feminine because feminine is good, but women do not have to be feminine, either. It’s all about being fair and equal.
3. Feminists only care about white women issues
One of the most important things I’ve learned from my courses and dialogues that I’ve had with other feminists and social change agents is the importance of intersectionality. Understanding the complexities of a person’s identities, how they interact, and the complexities of privilege, is a huge part of my identity as a feminist. It’s important that we, as feminists, focus on the intersectionality of discrimination against women of all identities, and how that affects everyone differently.
These are only a few of the many misconceptions of feminism, and there are many more that could be addressed here. One of my feminist icons, Audre Lorde, once said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” This quote reminds me that, as a feminist, I stand for not only the issues facing me as a white woman, but all women in society.