Feminism; Myths and Misconception

By Hailley Smart

As long as there has been feminism, there have been many myths about it. As time has moved on some of these myths have fallen away and new ones have sprung up. In this article I will be discussing some of the most relevant and common myths in 2020 about feminism. I will be looking into how the misconceptions are wrong and providing links to other sources (both through the University of Idaho’s Women’s Blog and other sites) that can be utilized to dig deeper into these myths.

Women are already equal/there is no need for feminism anymore

While it is true that feminism has made many strides in furthering equality, there are still many areas where women are behind. Women are still twice as likely to do the majority of the housework (averaging 14 hours of housework a week, while men are reported to average 7). Women still get paid less in many fields of employment. Many jobs are also far more exclusive of mothers then of fathers. For more on why feminism still matters, I suggest looking into Kailyn Eagy’s article “Is the Women’s March Still Relevant?” and the APA’s article “What Feminism Means Today”.

Feminists can only be women/Men can’t be feminists

While it is a true statement to say that women care about their own equality, it is not exclusive to only women. Equality between the sexes is important to all. The idea that if you are not female you cannot relate to feminism is nonsense. There are many notable male feminists: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, and John Legend, who said in 2013, “All men should be feminists. If men care about women’s rights, the world will be a better place. We are better off when women are empowered — it leads to a better society.”

Feminists believe that women are above men.

Yes, there are some who claim to be feminists who do believe that women are superior to men, however that is not true to the spirit of feminism and that is not what feminism represents. Feminism is at its heart about fighting for the equality of all. No gender is better or worse than any other. Feminism endorses and advocates for human rights for all gender identities since everyone deserves to be treated equally. I recommend the Forbes article “True Feminism is About Equality for Both Genders”. I also recommend the post by Beatrice Santiago called “Feminism”.

Feminists hate men

This is one of the most harmful of the myths about feminism. Not only are many feminists men themselves, but it is entirely unfounded to say that all feminists are man-haters. The stereotype of the raging man hating feminist is entirely unfounded. Feminism merely seeks to point out the gender imbalance that is often perpetuated by both men and women. Believing this myth perpetuates feminism as misandry and creates a mindset of hatred of, contempt for, and prejudice against men in general.

Feminists can’t be feminine

The idea that feminist can’t be stereotypically feminine is an outdated idea. That feminists hate fashion, make up, and all things that are traditionally feminine is flawed for one primary reason. It is based on the idea that all feminists are the same. While there are many feminists that are very much against flowing skirts and heels, that is their personal choice based on their own interests. There are equally as many feminists (both male and female) who embrace the ‘girlier’ aspects of appearance (many of the most traditionally feminine clothes have even been used as symbols of feminism). The choice to embrace traditionally feminine or masculine traits is exactly that, an individual’s choice and not a representation of feminism as a whole. Being feminist means giving and getting the chance to not be forced to follow either way. It is about having the freedom to CHOOSE what each individual wants without fear of judgement or condemnation.

Feminists are crazy and oversensitive

Just as there are feminists who are traditionally feminine, there are feminists, non-feminists and anti-feminists that are very easily offended. There are also members of each group that are hardly offended by anything. Neither of these mindsets are wrong, just as neither are right. They are simply facts of each person’s identity. The reason this one is held to be true is due to the fact that the media tends to display the most radical factions of any group in order to gather the most attention and readership. There is no single type of feminism, and there is no single type of person who is a feminist.

As with any defining movement in history there have been and are a wide variety of misconceptions and myths that have been spread about feminism over time. I hope that I have given you some insight into some of the most common misconceptions about feminism nowadays, as well as a variety of sites and sources to look further into. For an interesting view of anti-feminism, I also suggest reading Sierra Rothermich’s article “Looking Through The Eyes Of An Anti-Feminist”.

Gender Inequality in Clothing

By Hailley Smart

Photo by Marco Verch

All clothes are not created equal. While you would think that the only difference between men’s and women’s clothing is the physical appearance of it, that just simply isn’t true. Clothing is meant to be a way to physically represent who we are, a symbol of our fights and struggles, and not a clear divide between the genders. Women’s fashion is held in a different opinion, made of cheaper materials, and is not designed with the needs of women in mind.

One of the first and most harmful ways in which female clothing is unequal is due to the public opinion and mindset of it. The female fashion industry is seen as superficial, and putting an emphasis on the clothing you wear is viewed as vain. And yet, not putting effort into looking the absolute best deems a woman a slacker, lazy, or simply unpretty. Feminist Naomi Wolf once wrote in her book The Beauty Myth that “The way we looked determined our value to society.” Those who dress in female marketed clothing are judged by whether or not they conform to how that garment should look. The public mindset of female clothing is predominately that a woman’s worth is intrinsically and unconsciously linked to her appearance. This is an opinion that is often reinforced by the media that we consume as a culture. How many shows have you seen where the female character spends an inordinate amount of time deciding what to wear? I bet if you stop to think about it, you’ll find yourself surprised by how many there are. But this does not hold true for male’s clothing. With the exception of high end fashion, the men’s fashion world is viewed as more acceptable. GQ, one of the world’s leading men’s fashion companies, claims in an article on the clothing price difference that “Men are thought to approach buying clothes with more pragmatism”. Whereas women’s clothing is viewed as a physical representation of their worth, men’s clothing is just clothing. And that’s not even digging into the issues of dress codes and the way they reflect on the clothing.

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Miniskirts, Bobbed Hair, and Suits: Clothing of Feminism

By Hailley Smart

A bright red lipstick stain on the back of a receipt stuck hanging out of the pocket of a red handbag
Red lipstick, one of the many ways women have accented their feminism over the decades. Source: Steve Snodgrass

Miniskirts, short bobbed hair, power suits, what do each of these items have in common? What is the prevailing thread that ties all three of these together? Each of them is, in their own way, symbolic of women’s rights. Throughout history there have been many symbols that represent feminism, many fashion choices utilized by womankind to display the fight and advocacy for our rights. Now, this may seem trivial-I mean, what’s the importance of clothing-but by looking into each of these fashion symbols you can trace a timeline of how feminism came to be what it is today and look into the lives of women who lived and argued for female rights throughout American history. Let it be stated; that while not all of these articles of clothing were accepted and promoted by suffragist and feminist organizations each of them did have a part to play within the history of the struggle for equal rights. So where did it begin? When did women begin to use clothing as a way of displaying their strength and rights?

1850s: One of the first traceable uses of clothing to display women’s rights occurred in the 1850s. In a time period when women were still heavily encumbered by tight fitting corsets and multi-layered petticoats one woman dared to stand up and fight against it. Her name was Amelia Bloomer. Having spent the earlier part of her life working to win women’s rights, even being one of the founders of the first recorded American .feminist paper ‘The Lily’, Amelia Bloomer heavily advocated for trading in the bird and some petticoats and hoop skirts for a wide leg style of pants that later came to be known as the bloomers. And while she did not intend initially for the bloomers to become such a widespread phenomenon of the time, they became the first in many instances women using fashion as a way to reclaim the power.

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Looking Through The Eyes Of An Anti-Feminist

Women of the world unite
A Photo of a Feminist March

By Sierra Rothermich

I’m going to ask you to do something difficult…

Something individuals rarely do, but it is of great importance…

Up for the challenge?

Try to understand a different perspective — look through the eyes of an anti-feminist.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, feminism is defined as “the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” However, some women don’t consider themselves feminists. In fact, there is a website called womenagainstfeminism.com dedicated to expressing anti-feminist views. According to a national survey by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation, six in ten women and one third of men consider themselves a feminist or strong feminist. About seven in ten people said they thought the movement was empowering.

However, four in ten Americans said the movement is angry and unfairly blames men for women’s challenges. A writer on womenagainstfeminism.com explains, “modern-day feminism has taken a different path that I cannot relate to.”

So here is the challenge — Let’s try to understand this perspective. Take a moment with me to look through the eyes of an anti-feminist.

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Creating immortality for equal representation

Infographic showing women make up 51% of our population but only 20% of our government
She Should Run

By Sierra Rothermich

Think of a woman you look up to…

Think of a woman who has inspired you…

Think of a woman who has impacted your life…

Should she run for office?

SheShouldRun, a national organization that aims to expand the number of women in office, wants us to ask ourselves that question. Sofia Pereira, Community Manager for SheShouldRun, said Women already contribute to our communities in so many ways–whether you’re a scientist, a stay at home mom, a non-profit leader or an entrepreneur. Yet, out of the over half a million elected offices that exist in America, women make up less than a third.

By 2030, SheShouldRun aims to fulfill their goal of having 250 thousand women running for office. However, to accomplish that goal, as women we must be ambitious and act. This means we need to express our strength, determination, and passion to inspire women now and into the future. Inspiring others requires using our thoughts, ideas, and values to create a legacy of equal representation.

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Feminism

Image result for feminism
“We all can do it!” Poster

By Beatrice Santiago 

 

Feminism? What is the significance or meaning of that word?

When searching different sites, I found many definitions.

Google Search

  1. “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”

 Urban Dictionary

  1. Feminism used to be about women getting the same rights as men, such as the right to vote and equal pay at work. Now feminism is a movement full of women who seem to think that their ability to push a baby out of their v***** titles them to bigger and better everything.”

 Merriam-Webster

  1. “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests”

Vocabulary

  1. “A feminist is someone who supports equal rights for women. If your brother objects strongly to women being paid less than men for doing the same job, he’s probably a feminist.”

A word that holds a lot of controversy. Wow. No wonder many people can either be in favor or against feminism based on these definitions. When I asked myself, “How do I define feminism?” I tried to find the right response that makes sense to me. I put a lot of thought into it and here is my response. A while back I saw a picture on Facebook about fairness. Link here

Equity vs. Equality!

There is a huge difference. For example, Equality is about everyone being fair and being treated fairly. While Equity is about equipping people with the same resources to have the same shot at something. If everyone were treated the same (for example, in this picture boy number three would not be able to see the game. While in the second picture, boy number two and three were given the resources to be able to see the game like the first boy.) Applying it to Feminism, it’s not about being treated better it’s being giving the same resources to be able to succeed in life, workforce, education. When women do succeed it’s not celebrated. Most treat it as if it were not possible.

I asked a few of my friends what their definitions of feminism are. These were their responses:

“I define Feminism as equal pay in the workforce, no matter the gender.”

“Much more than women getting paid equal it’s also about bringing up everything that is wrong with society. Talking about issues that people feel uncomfortable talking about and taking a broader aspect.”

“Having equality and equity between all genders. Not just men having power but respecting and realizing that women can too.”

“Feminism is asking for equity in human rights. Nothing more. Men can be allies to the movement, so in a way, men can be Feminists.”

“Feminism is women being able to make decisions over issues that affect women and be treated socially equal to men.”

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Feminism 101: Why it’s Relevant

 

Black background with pink symbol for the female sex with a closed fist in the middle.

By Alexandria Arritt

Feminism is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as, “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” The simplest definition of feminism is truly just the idea of equality. If that is what feminism is, why is it controversial? Why do so many people find the idea of feminism inherently discriminatory? There are two main reasons that seem to stand out.

  1. Many assume that the 21st century is a time where women are not discriminated against. That feminism has already done its job and is no longer necessary. Many do not consider what women face in America to be sexism.
  2. Others find no issue with feminism, but with “radical feminism.” They don’t agree with man-hating and violence. Some still mention the notorious bra-burning that characterized second wave feminism as a descriptor of “radical feminism.”

To address the first issue, it is important to consider the treatment of women across the globe, not just in the United States. There are women suffering from extreme discrimination in all walks of life. For example, the World Health Organization conducted a study about violence against women that concluded that around 15% of women in Japan and a staggering 71% of women in Ethiopia reported some sort of violence by an intimate partner. They also found that worldwide, almost one third of women who have been in a relationship experienced either physical or sexual violence by their intimate partner. Women around the globe residing in countries such as India, Africa, Pakistan, and even some Eastern European Countries also experience discrimination in the form of honor killings, acid attacks, child marriage and forced prostitution. In 155 countries, it is still legal to discriminate based on sex, according to a recent World Bank survey. Within the US, violence such as mutilation and honor killings are less common, but women experience discrimination in many other ways. Women still are subjected to harassment, rape and pay discrimination.

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