Seeing as it’s International Women’s Day today, I thought I’d do a quick listicle about modern feminism, and some common misconceptions of what feminism means- or what a feminist is. For last year’s International Women’s Day post, click here.
As always, this list is in no particular order, these are just some issues that I think it is worth considering, on this day when we should be celebrating the achievements of women across the world.
1. If you aren’t a working woman, you can’t be a feminist
This is one of those misconceptions that you hear time and time again, and the fault really comes from inside the feminist movement itself. In today’s society, it is imperative that women are encouraged to work in every profession, pushing boundaries in sectors such as STEM in order to represent women across the world in previously restricted areas. And in the past couple of years, certainly in the Western world, we have achieved a lot in the way of bringing more women into prestigious and highly-paid professions- even if there is still a long way to go.
But this does not mean that, should a woman choose to marry and have children, and give up her work, that she is any less of a feminist. A housewife can have just as strong views on the position of women in society as the CEO of a big company, and other women in particular should never question this.
The feminist battle is all about giving women the choice to pursue whatever they want- whether that is to become a professional woman and live independently, or a housewife who stays at home to care for her children while her husband works. Whatever the choice, if a woman has chosen her path in life, she should not be condemned as ‘anti-feminist’ or wrong, and instead, the very fact that she was allowed to choose her own way should be celebrated.
2. Feminists hate men
This is probably the biggest misconception around, and it really gives the whole feminist movement- and those who identify as feminists- a bad name. Feminism, by definition, is a movement which aims to bring about gender equality. Notice the key word there- equality. So anyone who wants to topple men from power, or reverse the patriarchy to a matriarchy, cannot call themselves a feminist, as this does not promote equality.
The whole idea of feminism is making sure that women and men have equal rights, and promoting equality between the sexes. Of course, this more often than not focuses on women’s rights, but this is because women have been oppressed and subjected to discrimination for centuries, and so it only seems like the right thing to ensure that women’s position is improved in today’s society.
3. Feminism is no longer necessary in the Western world
This is something I hear all the time, in various forms. I think one of the main issues with this is that it suggests that feminism is not an important movement, and that women’s position is now equal to that of men’s, certainly in the Western world anyway. And of course, we have made many advancements. But there is still a long way to go before we reach complete equality, or even something resembling it.
Taking a classic example, women are still neglected the same amount of pay for the same work as a man, and this if nothing else suggests that women’s work is deemed as less valuable than that of a man. And it’s the little things that also mean there is a need for the feminist movement in today’s society. The continued attitude of men towards women, and this idea of ‘lad culture’, is still highly prevalent in the modern world. My friends who are boys will always say ‘Well, I don’t know any boy who doesn’t see girls as equal to boys’, and while this may be true to a certain extent, the ingrained attitudes of boys towards girls has an impact on how girls see themselves, and their role in society, and while they may support women’s rights, there is always this subliminal sense of superiority that I see again and again in boy’s my own age.
I hope this post revealed some of the misconceptions feminists come up against time and time again. Ultimately, the feminist movement should not be seen as something of the past, and Western women should keep fighting for their rights, as well as for those in other countries, who suffer even greater discrimination. The fight for gender equality has been, and continues to be, a long and hard one, with ingrained attitudes and stereotypes taking decades to overcome and suppress. However, I am optimistic for the future, as I think every feminist should be.
So, this International Women’s Day, let’s spend time understanding and acknowledging the importance of feminism and women in our society, and let’s take this chance to celebrate the empowerment of women across the world- and discuss the actions that need to be taken to stop the oppression of women for good.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Currently reading: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee