You Say ‘Feminist’ Like it’s a Bad Thing

It’s something that everyone who’s even passingly interested in not treating women like crap has heard once or twice. “What are you, some kind of feminist?” “Ugh, stop being so feminist about this.” “Oh great, here come the feminists, time to stop having fun.” Because wanting equal rights for women is such an obnoxious and horrible thing, I guess!

There’s a definite stigma against feminists in our current society, which likes to portray us as ball-busting man-haters and/or hairy lesbians. (I mean, personally I am a hairy lesbian, but that has very little to do with my feminism.) Because the only reason you could want positive change for women is because you hate men? After all, it’s not like feminism is about equality or anything, because then it would be called equalism! And it would talk about men’s issues all the time, as is proper. Feminism must be about female superiority or something.

(Obviously this article isn’t trying to change anyone’s mind about feminism, because let’s face it: if your mind is already made up about how awful feminists are, reading feminist articles is probably not going to help. Actually, if you’ve already made up your mind about how awful feminists are, why are you reading feminist articles in the first place?)

There also seems to be this conception of feminism being unnecessary in modern society. Oh sure, historical feminists were important and all, getting women the vote and getting us out of the home and into the office. But things are equal now, so what on earth do you have to whine about? I had a roommate in college who told me, with a sneer, of an acquaintance: “And she’s a feminist.” I looked at her sort of blankly. “So what?” “You know it’s because of feminists we have to write he or she?”

God, what horror. (Did I mention this roommate was majoring in biochemistry and had no interest in marriage or children? But feminism wouldn’t have anything to do with that!)

Feminists these days complain about such stupid things, like shows about colorful ponies! Aren’t there bigger things to worry about, like actual sexism? Because what we’re exposed to as children can’t possibly have an affect on our perceptions of masculinity versus femininity, or what it’s acceptable to do and be as a woman. And obviously caring about some minor things means you have absolutely no care left to spare on major things. (Because choosing to write an article about a specific facet of society while not simultaneously writing about every other facet of society means you clearly don’t care about the big picture.)

In my ideal world, everyone would be a feminist, because I think it’s pretty cool that women someday achieve equal standing with men; that one day women won’t be forced into rigid boxes of societal acceptability, and that likewise, men aren’t forced into other boxes (while avoiding the feminine boxes as their life depended on it– because sometimes it does). But I guess that just makes me a lesbian.

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About Melissa S.

I'm a 23-year-old, currently unemployed college graduate. I have a degree in French and German, and I'd love to work in publishing. I love writing and reading, makeup, clothes, surfing the internet, and playing video games. I'm also queer and a feminist. I started getting interested in feminism in college, but contrary to popular belief, I've never taken a women's studies course. You don't have to. Most of what I've learned, I've learned from the internet, where there's a wealth of sources, personal and scholarly, that can get you started on the right path. From there, you have to make your own decisions.

10 responses »

  1. It’s unfortunate how ingrained the backlash against feminists is, despite being unfounded. People say (and believe that) “Feminists are ugly, hairy, man-hating, lesbians.” But if you ask how many feminists they actually know, the answer tends to be zero. Aside from the fact that enforced the idea that being ugly, hairy, hating-men, and/or being a lesbian is bad, which is just aggravating.

    Reply
  2. my problem with feminism is that too many of them are radical and that men have an equal amount of disadvantages, equalism sounds better than feminism to me because feminism surggests that women are the most disadvantaged group in the world, which is not true, or that they only care about women and not other groups that may be worse off than them

    Reply
    • Haha, wow. I was tempted to just answer this with a “lol, no,” because your comment displays such a gross misunderstanding of feminism, but what the hey, I’m going to answer it seriously, just for the benefit of anyone who may be reading.

      • “Too many of them are radical”
      • Well, I guess that depends on your definition of “radical” and your definition of “too many.” I hardly have statistics on hand about how many feminists consider themselves “radical,” so I’ll just leave that one be for now.

      • “Men have an equal amount of disadvantages”
      • Haha, no. Do men have disadvantages in this society? Yes, absolutely. Any man who doesn’t live up to the masculine ideal gets called things like “bitch” or “pussy” (oh wait, hey, that sounds kinda like misogyny). Women are favored in child custody cases (because caring for children is naturally “women’s work”– misogyny again). No one’s denying that the patriarchy is hurtful to men as well. But to say men are equally disadvantaged? That’s simply ignorant. Look at who has power in this country– the Senate, the House, state governments, etc, and then come back and tell me that men and women are equally disadvantaged.

      • “Feminism suggests women are the most disadvantaged group in the world.”
      • Um, no it doesn’t? It suggests that they have societal disadvantages, period, which they do. I’m not sure if you realize this, but the existence of one group does not preclude the existence of other groups. And it’s actually possible for a single person to care about multiple groups at one time! The existence of breast cancer fundraisers does not mean no one cares about heart disease; the existence of animal welfare groups does not mean no one cares about disadvantaged children. One group is not required to fight all instances of injustice in the world at once: specialization allows for a group to narrow their focus and thereby have more resources to more effectively deal with their chosen issue, while another group may choose to focus on a different issue.

      • “they only care about women and not other groups that may be worse off than them”
      • Just because women, as a group, are not the most disadvantaged people in the world, does not mean that some of the most disadvantaged people in the world aren’t women. Poor women of color, especially those who happen to be queer, or have disabilities, are probably some of the worst off in our (referring to US) society. But guess what? Feminism cares about them too.

        I’ll be the first to admit that mainstream American feminism has big old problems with intersectionality, and focuses mostly on white, middle-to-upper class cis women, but that is not an inherent quality of feminism. There has been a lot of work done recently to promote intersectional feminism, and while there’s obviously still a long way to go on that front, things are definitely improving.

      Hope that helped!

      Reply
      • Men are hardly dissadvantaged by being called ‘pussy’ and ‘bitch’ unless they take those throw away terms seriously.

        What is absurd is that feminsits view male accomplishemnt as unearned simply because they are male. ‘Why are there so many men on banking boards?”, naturally we have to assume it’s because banking boards conspire against women. Nowadays, it’s also perfectly acceptable to assume that if women ran banking boards there would have never been a recession because the only fault any woman can have is caused by men.

        I’ve read feminist readings of renaissance art that suggest the fact that their were so many male artists as a set back. Only a feminist who consumes all of their facts through a filter would consider the renaissance a ‘set back’ for anyone, especially considering that there were truckloads of woman renaissance artists that they don’t know about becuase they are busy feeling opressed. The society was too austere to find value in a woman’s ambition to become a painter when all the guilds were filled with men, and why would one woman want to share a house with lots of men?
        You might just say that still life and cherubs were a set back to renaissance art.

        You can throw rediculous qoutes around about ‘cis’ and intersectional feminism all you want but you will only be busy bodying and it won’t distract from the fact that your ideaology has some seriously hypocrtical and faulty foundations.

  3. Feministpuncher

    It’s true all feminists lack various important senses – right now you’ve proven all feminists lack : common sense, irony and a basic understanding of human nature. Ad homen and appeal to emotion is the lamest, stupidest most bitter losery trying attempt at an argument I’ve heard. I’m sure you’re grandmas are real proud of masculine looking slags like you. Back to your crazy Marxist religion now dummies – the world “wants” and “needs” more stupid.

    Reply
  4. Feminism warrants a backlash against it. Most people are not feminists, men or women. Feminists claim to be representing women by taking away the need for men and placing it in the hands of government in institutions. And despite the fact that women are better represented in universities and do better at school, feminists insist that it’s due to with them being better than men, and that the ‘balding men on banking boards’ are there by unearned privilege. It’s is the most selfish and materialistic political stance with steam today.

    And when i say ‘feminists’ I do men ‘feminists’ because I am describing the things that feminists who have influence say. The fence sitter ‘women are just as good as men’ feminists aren’t the ones advocating for 50% female representation on all high power boards, while remaining satisfied if most workplace injuries are faced by men, but they have no influence.

    And for those who say ‘it was a good thing at first’, consider that Cassie Catt advocated the vote be stripped from immigrants, Carrie Carmichael considered the possesive term ‘his’ sexist and confusing to young girls, Margaret Sanger wanted to destroy the black population in America, Germaine Greer suggested that father’s kissing their children was training them to be ‘coy and manipulitive’ and was turning them into sluts, early feminists from the 19th century accused men on the anti-slavery panels bigots because ‘women are like slaves’. Oh, and who was that person who coined the term ‘herstory’ bicause ‘history’ only focuses on men while we’re expected to believe that revised ‘woman’s’ history is less partisan and would balance out gendered perspectives on the past?

    No, the above do not represent the majority of random coffee shop feminists, but they are some of the most influential and most prestigous feminists that have shaped the philosophy today. If they aren’t the ones that represent feminsim,and if I’m just cherry picking from the extremes, then should we all be expected to cherry pick the moderate feminist ideaology that has no influence when we discuss ‘what true feminism is’?

    I don’t take what this guy says seriously because his name suggests he’s jumped from one bogan slogan bandwagon from being a mysoginist to the opposite bogan slogan bandwagon. Like that guy from the 90s that went from satanism to fundamentalist evangelical demon slaying.

    Reply
  5. I don’t know how feminists claim that they can accomplish societal good by only focusing on the issues of one gender. It doesn’t make sense to me. Please explain???
    I don’t think that ALL feminists hate men– but that element of feminism, as long as it exists, will keep me away and keep feminism from lacking legitimacy.
    Also, for your claims that women somehow have it rougher than men, tell me– when was the last time a woman had to register for the draft through Selective Service under the threat of being sent federal prison?
    If you’re going to respond to this, please don’t use a dismissive tone. I actually want to know what you have to say in response.

    Reply
    • For your claims that men somehow have it rougher than women, when was the last time the draft was actually in effect?

      I’m sorry, I don’t know how not to use a dismissive tone for such a stupid argument.

      Reply
  6. Aretha McNamara

    Feminism isn’t a construct that applies wholly to women. Aside from the name (which is alienating to the male gender, but something that is entirely unoffensive given the context), feminism has nothing to do with soley female rights. It’s about rights for gender. That’s it.

    I don’t understand why people jump on the feminist bandwagon without actually engaging in feminist theory. It dilutes the cause, and most importantly the results.

    Reply

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