We can all relate to gender issues on some level. Boys are told they can’t cry and girls are told they can’t be good at math. Men are not ‘real’ men if they are gentle and compassionate, women are thought to be selfish if they are competitive in their work. When men are brought up to be cold and heartless, they don’t have the basic tools to navigate their own emotions after years of bottling them up. When women are brought up to believe that their main occupation in life should be maintaining their homes and being a mother, they get left behind in the workplace. Some of these gender stereotypes are internal so that some women inhibit themselves from aspiring to have successful careers. Other stereotypes impact women’s chances at getting ahead in their career due to prejudice and blatant sexism.
No matter how much each one of us suffers due to the societal pressures based on gender norms, we still shy away from talking about issues of equal rights for men and women in all aspects of life. What is even worse if that oftentimes a movement such a feminism that was intended to bring gender equality to the forefront has been equated with ideas of men-hating and female dominance. This misguided belief creates suspicion around the movement as well as its adherents. Because of all the fear-mongering spread about feminists, it’s important to note what feminism is not just as much as asserting what it is. Here are four things feminism is not.
1. It’s not about female dominance.
In fact, a true feminist would never allow bias against men or inequality towards the opposite gender. Feminists belong to a movement that’s based on gender equality and hating men or accepting inequity towards them not only doesn’t align with this philosophy but also is against its ethos.
2. It’s not about hating men.
Feminism as a philosophy calls for higher values such as justice and equality and there is no room for hatred in it. Men are our fathers, husbands, friends, colleagues, and most importantly our partners in this movement. Like any great movement in history, it takes both women and men to reach the ultimate goal of gender equality. That’s what actress and feminist Emma Watson’s campaign ‘He for She’ is all about. He for She is a solidarity movement that “unifies the efforts” of members of both sexes to achieve gender equality.
3. It’s does not involve the belief that men and women are the same.
Because they are not! Both sexes have some unique qualities that complement each other well. However, that’s not to say that women are not capable of academic aptitude or professional competence. Suffice it to say that some men and women are different but equal.
4. It’s not against femininity.
Though there is spectrum of gender that, in a lot of cases, is independent of sexual orientation, feminism is not against express one’s femininity. A girl can love the color pink and still be a feminist because these to things don’t conflict with each other. Fret not, your male partner can still hold the door for you or pay the dinner bill!