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Myths about feminism

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This is a list of common myths and misconceptions about feminism.

On feminism

"The aim of feminism is to make women the dominant gender"

Feminism aims to eradicate oppression of genders that are not male. Feminism does not aim to create new oppression.

"Feminism only fights for the rights of [straight cis] women"

My feminism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit. --Flavia Dzodan

"Feminism is simply sexism against men"

See reverse sexism.

"Feminism ignores men's issues"

Feminism suggested that the issues of women, men, and the other genders are not separate entities, but stem all from the same system of inequality. For instance:

  • male-only draft: based on the notion that women be inherently too emotional/mentally unstable/unsuited for strict discipline (etc) for military work
  • custody: based on the notion that women be inherently more capable and willing to care for their children, and thus the better choice for a primary caregiver as default
  • abuse for "failing" at masculinity: based on the notion that to be unmasculine is to be feminine, and that to be feminine is to be inferior -- see toxic masculinity
  • paying for dinner: based on the notion that the man would by default be the bigger earner, and thus should pay as an expression of good-will[1]

On sexism

"Sexism means discrimination based on sex/gender."

That's what the dictionary says.

"Women can't be sexist"

Women can be sexist, and often subconsciously are due to having grown up in a culture where conforming to the situation is commonplace, more beneficial than rebelling against status quo, and seems "right" and "natural".

"Feminists can't be sexist"

Identifying as a feminist only requires that one is committed to the idea that people should be treated as people, with respect and basic decency, regardless of gender. It usually indicates the person is aware of some levels and forms of systematic oppression of non-male genders, but does not in any way guarantee that they be so thoroughly aware of their deeply ingrained thought and behavior patterns that they could avoid every and all types of sexist behaviour.

"I haven't witnessed any sexism, therefore it's a figment of imagination."

Are you sure? You've never witnessed, or heard about a situation, where...

  • a woman was shamed for her sexuality
  • a guy thought that a sexy cosplay was an open invitation?
  • a woman raising her voice was dismissed as PMS-having?
  • a woman was attacked verbally for not playing along with uninvited sexual attention ("get the sand out of your pussy", "you think you're too good for me?")
  • a woman used an "I have a boyfriend" excuse to get rid of unwanted advances
  • discussion on a rape case was focused on how the victim brought the assault to themselves
  • a man was ridiculed or abused for behaviour or interests generally considered feminine or homosexual (read: feminine)
  • female bodies were used to market a product or a service completely unrelated to female bodies?

On feminists

"Feminists are just angry because they can't get laid/boyfriends"

Feminists are angry because whether they are having sex or relationships (or "good enough" to be having such) is considered relevant measure of their value as a human being.

"Feminists are fat/ugly/hairy/lesbians/etc"

All sorts of women can be and are feminists. Feminism is opposed to the notion that the degree to which a woman fulfils the interests of straight men (being attractive, accommodating, sexually available, etc) should be considered the measure of their value as a human being.

"Feminists have no sense of humour"

Being opposed to sexist and otherwise marginalizing jokes does not indicate how and to what degree one enjoys other type of humour.

"Feminists hate sex"

Feminists hate the fact that women are subject to requirements of being sexy (read: appealing to the average heterosexual male) and flirtatious (read: happily accepting of random commentary of her appearance and behaviour), but also expected to not be slutty (read: "too" openly/happily/frequently sexual), but also expected to not be a prude (read: keeping their sexuality and sexual appeal out of the public).

Feminists also hate the fact that in media, a woman's role has been reduced to that of sexually appealing decoration to the eyes of the average heterosexual viewer.

"Feminists think all men are rapists"

Schrödinger's Rapist describes a world of fear, one where a woman cannot safely assume the men she meets in her everyday life to be not rapists. It describes a world where a woman must have a plan to travel the world, meet new people, and be ready to escape and/or defend herself, should one of those people turn out to be a rapist. It does not describe a world where every man is a rapist just waiting for a chance.

"Feminists think all sex is rape"
  1. -- you misunderstood something profoundly, or
  2. -- you swallowed a Straw-feminist argument, or
  3. -- you encountered a person with extremely radical views that certainly do not reflect the views of the vast majority of feminists.

"I believe in gender equality, but I'm not a feminist"

Whoever believes (and wants to promote) equality between genders is a feminist by definition. See below for specific cases.

"...because I don't want to divorce my spouse."

Many feminists would encourage women to break up from unhappy relationships, some may even oppose prevailing inequalities in the modern marriage institution, but one would be hard-pressed to find a feminist who would require anyone to break up from a happy relationship.

"...because I don't have anything against men in general."

Feminism isn't against men, it's against the system of oppression against genders other than men.

"...because I like being pretty and feminine."

Feminism fights for women's choice to be pretty and feminine if they want so -- and against the prevailing body shaming and sexism in out culture that expects all women to conform to certain standards of appearance and femininity in order to "qualify" for respect.

"...because I don't want men and women to be the same."

Equality does not mean sameness. Feminism fights for a world where anyone is free to be as they like without being shamed or abused for their choices.

Footnotes

  1. Note: this practise is already a dead tradition, or dying, in parts of the world such as in the Nordic countries.

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