I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard young women say, “I’m not a feminist, but…”
I’m not a feminist, but I believe in equality.
I’m not a feminist, but I champion the cause of women worldwide.
I’m not a feminist, but the way he treated her was awful.
Exaggerated myths about feminism have permeated our culture and tainted feminism, making it undesirable for the Millennial Generation. Young women are standing an arm’s length away from the “The Other F Word,” worried that they will look like a militant bitch if they claim it for themselves.
Feminism is nothing more than a desire to champion the cause of women worldwide, empower women to live their best lives, and put down any force that would harm their lives or their dreams. Debunking these exaggerated myths of feminism may allow our Generation Y women to hold on to the confidence and positive power that stems from being a feminist.
Myth #1: Feminists hate men.
Men are great! I happen to love men! I grew up with fantastic men in my family, and since then I have spent time more with fantastic men –friends and lovers alike. Hating any section of humanity is dangerous to humanity as a whole. Feminists who fight against hate, oppression, disrespect and then show those same negative qualities to men lose all credibility. Feminists must be just as pro-men as they are pro-women. You can champion the cause and advancement of women and still champion men.
Myth #2: Feminists believe that there are no differences between men and women.
Only a crazy person could not see that there are differences between men and women. The focus should not be on proving that women and men are identical because they are not. The focus should be on realizing that no women are identical. No woman fits into a box with clean lines. Equality does not require that women and men be the same; equality requires no longer shoving women into a preconceived notion of what they should or should not do based on gender stereotypes.
Myth #3: Feminists cannot be feminine. Nobody crushes this myth of the non-feminine feminist better than Gen Y’s favorite lady, Zooey Deschanel. In an interview for Glamour magazine she said,
“I’m just being myself. There is not an ounce of me that believes any of that crap that they say. We can’t be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a fucking feminist and wear a fucking Peter Pan collar. So fucking what?”
For women to be celebrated, all aspects of femininity must be celebrated. Not all women need to wear lip-gloss and heels but those who want to should rock it with confidence.
Myth #4: Feminists should not allow men to buy them dinner or open doors for them.
How does a woman who champions equality, empowers fellow women, and believes in independence date a man who believes in honoring, cherishing and possibly even spoiling women? For example, what do we do with the man who insists he pay for dinner? My answer is simple, ladies: We let him! Don’t punish genuine kindness from a man who offers it. Responding negatively to this gentlemanly behavior does not benefit him, it does not benefit you, and in no way does it benefit the female cause.
Myth #5: Feminists are mean and bitchy.
Let’s be honest. Women with strength, confidence, and leadership qualities are often considered bitchy or bossy. These stereotypes are often entirely untrue. However, it is important to remember that if any progress is going to be done in continuing to give women all the opportunities they deserve, it is not going to happen through meanness or bitchiness. Kindness must be at the heart of any move toward greater equality. Strong and kind are not mutually exclusive.
Feminism should not be something that is scary or unwelcome. This is especially true for the Millennial Generation- a generation with the world still ahead of them. These myths are not reality. The reality is that Gen Y is bursting with interesting, passionate women who should be able to take on the world while confidently rocking the title “Feminist”.
Featured image via Flickr