By Kara Chyung
As a member of PBG’s fabulous Tumblr team, I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently searching through all of our saved tags, such as body image, sexism, and even Gloria Steinem. However, I’ve been avoiding the feminist tag recently due to all of the anti-feminist content that gets posted there. Some of the content attempts to be diplomatic, but some of it is just appalling. It can be offensive to see someone call something that you believe in useless, and it makes me a little sad to see that some people view feminism in such a negative way.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about feminism that I have seen on Tumblr. Some of them refer to specific posts, and others I’ve seen many times.
1. Feminists hate men and believe that they are better than them.
Many people confuse feminism with misandry, but feminism is about equality, not superiority. Some people make the assumption that since feminists want to empower women, that means that they therefore want to suppress men. I support feminism because I believe that female gender inequality is more prevalent, but I also believe that men suffer from gender inequality and that these issues should be addressed along with women’s issues.
2. Feminism is a movement for the privileged.
I saw one particularly disparaging YouTube video about this topic. Basically, the maker of the video claimed that it was pointless and useless to spend energy advocating positive body image and reproductive rights while women in other countries are forced into marriage, banned from receiving an education, and raped on a regular basis. Of course female genocide is a more urgent and serious matter than objectification of women by the media. But both are their own breeds of bad, and it’s silly to suggest that one cannot be an advocate against both.
3. If you try to argue with feminists, they’ll just call you stupid and insult you.
There are probably feminists who refuse to listen to others’ points of view and maybe go a bit too far when trying to prove a point. But guess what? There are people who dismiss any opinion that isn’t their own in every movement, and feminism is not supported by a disproportionate number of them. To claim that an entire group of people with the same beliefs is by definition uncompromising (and rude) would be both unjust and incorrect.
4. Feminists are ugly women who can’t get laid
This is a reference to one awful post that I saw. According to this person, the problem is not the tremendous pressure that women face to be attractive, but the fact that some women are not attractive by society’s standards. Not only does this post belittle the importance of feminism in our culture, it also trivializes women’s experiences with gender inequality by labeling feminism as a way for women to justify their hurt feelings. That’s not to mention the glaring problem of attempting to set standards of beauty for women. Grr.
I’m not saying that the feminist movement is flawless or that women who don’t call themselves feminists are horrible people. But I wish that more people would see the strengths of feminism, because ultimately feminism does not only advocate for the rights of women. Feminism is a movement that is founded on the belief that no one should be discriminated against for who and what they are. And that is something we should all get behind.