“I don’t understand the need for feminism or why there’s such a big push for it right now,” he said.
We sat there in what seemed like the longest awkward silence ever. There was so much going through my head in that long pause that I didn’t even know how to respond. My kind-hearted and open-minded boyfriend just told me he didn’t think gender equality, something I have always felt strongly about, was necessary. Finally, I broke the silence.
“What do you think the word ‘feminism’ means?” I asked calmly, already knowing what he was going to say.
“It’s like a women’s movement for their rights, where women think men are the enemy,” he explained. He affirmed my suspicions that he actually had no idea what feminism actually is. Unfortunately, this is something that is all too common.
The problem with feminism in today’s society is that there are too many misconceptions that men–and plenty of women, for that matter–have about the subject. It’s important to know how to address them. If they do not fully understand the concept, then how can they support it? So here are some of the most pronounced misbeliefs about feminism and reasons why many men won’t associate with the term “feminist.”
Feminism is about women supremacy, hating men, etc.
While I am all for women lifting other women up, this issue has nothing to do with women being better than men. However, on many occasions, I have heard the assumption that feminism is about women empowerment and women supremacy, and it’s time to put that misconception to bed. In all honesty, the feminism movement is simply calling for equal rights and equal treatment of both genders–nothing more, nothing less. Anyone who says otherwise just needs to pick up a dictionary and read the real definition of the word, which is the easiest way to confront this misunderstanding. As for feminists hating men, I’m not going to deny that there are plenty of self-proclaimed “feminists” in the world who go on men-hating rants because that wouldn’t be true. However, these women are not displaying the true meaning of feminism and, unfortunately, these are the ones degrading the word themselves. If you find yourself with your boyfriend/dad/male friend, and he tells you something along these lines, casually pull up the Merriam-Webster definition of “feminism”, and if he still doesn’t understand, show him this video.
Feminism is only a lesbian issue
Lesbians can support the cause, sure. However, so do men and women with different economic, social, racial and sexual backgrounds. It’s a universal concept. However, there is a term called “intersectional feminism” and it’s about supporting the cause within your own demographic. So while there may be a feminist movement strictly for lesbians, there are also movements for every other demographic out there; feminism isn’t ONLY for lesbians, just like it isn’t ONLY for women, which leads to the next misconception…
Feminism is only a women’s issue
Yes, the word is confusing. When I explained to my boyfriend the actual meaning of feminism, he said, “Well, that’s misleading.” I agree, in some ways. Of course, “feminine” is the root word–so naturally, you initially associate the word with women. Leading up to present-day, women have used the word to voice their rights and call for equality, but in actuality, the concept can be used for men’s rights as well. By definition, this word and its meaning are just as much for men as for women. Men’s issues and men’s rights are a very real thing, too, and an actual feminist would acknowledge that and those issues themselves and support them in the cause.
Equality isn’t actually a problem
Trust me, I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given in the country I live in and I understand that many aspects of inequality aren’t very prevalent here in America. However, there are many, many places that don’t guarantee their women and men the same rights, treatment or opportunities. So while the movement in the U.S. does highlight more so on women’s rights, it’s more to spotlight the problem across the world. Say what you will, but America is usually a trendsetter, and many other countries look to us as a guide or a symbol of hope. If we don’t have equality in our own country, how can we serve to help those who have it so much worse? So yes, we (men AND women) are more fortunate here and I won’t argue that, but there are too many countries and cultures that don’t have it so lucky, and they are what this movement is really about.
Feminism always seemed to have this negative connotation attached to it when I was growing up, and here lately, it has received more and more backlash. I understood why my boyfriend thought so little of the word, as it is so often misrepresented, and I couldn’t really blame him for what he said. But after an in-depth discussion about all of these misunderstandings, I think it’s safe to say he’s seen the light, and I can only hope that more people continue to have this important conversation.