Today in my contextual arts class we talked about feminist art and prominent women in the art world. When our guest lecturer asked everyone who considered themselves a feminist to raise their hand, only myself and two other women raised our hands. It kind of made me want to hurl.
Too many people think that the feminist movement is full of butch lesbians who are all for the murder of children, who hate all men and who hate women who appear feminine (all feminists are hairy and manly). This definition simply makes me sad for women who present themselves as masculine or don’t shave, and especially for lesbians. Not only is this definition putting feminists down, it’s extending judgment to masculine women and lesbian women–who may not even identify as feminists in the first place. Check out this inspirational quote from Rush Limbaugh (I know, the name incites enough rage):
Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.
Do I even need to elaborate on that, because it brings tears to my eyes. Not laughter tears. I’m a proud feminist and I’M HOT. I’m totally hot.
And I look way better than him bald.
Most of the arguments that anti-feminists use are incorrect about the feminist movement anyway. Some interesting examples from the Tumblr Women Against Feminism are written off almost too easily (again, I know that Tumblr is the best example of extremists… but bear with me).
Yeah. I don’t want to be a man–but I don’t hate men. I actually love men. Men are wonderful. My dad is the bee’s knees, and is the reason I’m a journalism major. I adore my two fricken’ awesome brothers. My three male roommates are absolutely incredible. But I’m a woman. And I love being a woman. In response to feminists wanting to be badass or hairy, remind me again why that’s a bad thing? The point of feminism is to embrace who you are and allow that to empower you, whether you’re hairier than a lumberjack in a raccoon fur coat or whether the person who does your Brazilian waxing knows you so well that they could pick your mons pubis out of a Judy Chicago piece. It’s about making your choices based on what you want, not based on what society tells you–so if you want to be unmarried and childless forever, cool. If you want to get married at 20 and raise a family, that is just as cool with me. Feminism is allowing women and men and transgender and gender-variant people to be who they are. Can’t we just let everyone present themselves how they want?
We’re in a time of third world feminism and beyond, meaning that the movement doesn’t stop at white, upper class women. If you think that it doesn’t, you might want to remind yourself that this is 2014; we’ve moved past the Seneca Falls Convention. The current feminist movement supports people of color, it supports people of lower class, it supports people of any and all gender identities, it supports anyone who wants and needs it. It aims to bring equality and does not blame those who have access to more privilege.
Hating the feminist movement for the small number of man-and-feminine-women-hating extremists is like hating all white people for the KKK. It’s like hating the Civil Rights Movement because of the violence of the Black Panthers. It’s hating an entire group for the negative thoughts and actions of a small number of misled people… who honestly don’t really know what feminism means anyway.
For more, watch the following TED Talk by the incredibly inspiring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled “We Should All Be Feminists.” Although the video is geared toward Nigerian women, it applies to all feminists. Bonus points if you can pick out the sections Beyoncé samples in her song ***Flawless (I woke up like dis, I woke up like dis).