Society’s Depiction of Feminism vs. Actual Feminism

Years and years ago, I knew someone who declared herself to be an “anti-feminist”. I was so completely and utterly shocked by her statement that I have not forgotten it to this day. Why on earth would anybody say that he or she was an anti-feminist?

Well, it occurred to me, the person I knew must not have understood what being a true feminist is all about. And looking back on that day knowing what I know now, I’ve realized that not a lot of people do.

If there is one thing in the world I cannot and do not stand for under any circumstances, it is when people misuse the term “feminist”. People who don’t understand it. People who laugh and make jokes about it. People who look me up and down with disgust when I say I am one. In other words, I cannot stand it when people have no idea what the feminist movement was really about and what it still is about. And those people who say “feminazi”? They make me want to punch a wall. I have personally managed to cut every single utterer of the word I used to know out of my life, and I do not intend to have anything to do with people who use such a term. As a great bumper sticker put it, “Feminazi – because wanting to be treated like human beings is just like invading Poland.”

Looking around at the world today, and more specifically, the U.S., I see three different types of women when it comes to this feminism business. (Men can certainly fall under these categories, too.) And let me tell you, each and every type pisses me off.

1) The screamers. These women are so unbearably hardcore in their activism that they scream at men who politely open doors for them and take personal offense to any offer made by a man to pay for dinner. These women scoff at stay-at-home moms and write threatening letters Cosmo magazine on the grounds that any woman who wears a feminine dress should be shot. Screamers usually don’t want anything to do with men; this is perfectly fine, but screamers turn around and trash them. They insist that anyone with a penis needs to be locked up and caged whereas they, the girls, know how to run the world.

2) The whimperers. These women don’t want any say. These women flinch at women parading up streets in mini-skirts and shake their heads at women who have multiple degrees but aren’t married. They want to stay at home with their babies and be housewives. Now, that is all fine and dandy, but the mark of a whimperer is that they want every woman to be like that. Whimperers, I have noticed, seem to think that women need to learn their places. They don’t want to vote and they don’t like women who raise their voices to speak. They actually want to see the progress of the feminist movement backfire on the grounds that life was much easier when men paid for everything and they got to stay home all day.

(NOTE: There is a special kind of person that doesn’t want women to have a voice that happen to be men and not women. These people are called assholes.)

3) The shruggers. These women just don’t care. As far as they’re concerned, they have just as much of a right to do anything as men do, and they’re more concerned about pursuing hobbies or taking care of families or earning degrees than they are about fighting for equality. These are the women who tell the feminists in this country to stop being ungrateful for their rights that other women around the world are denied. These are the women who are convinced that everything is okey-dokie and that protests made by feminists are just a waste of time. They are far less annoying than the screamers and the whimperers, but their lack of knowledge of women’s rights issues is still irritating.

Now, I have a reality check for these types of women and for the rest of the world: feminism is not the idea that women are superior or better than men. It is certainly not the idea that men are weaker or less worthy. It is not beating other people over the head with your personal or religious beliefs nor is it hiding in your kitchen and letting men walk all over you.

Being a feminist implies that one believes that women should be equal to men. Nothing more, nothing less. Equal.

True feminism is about choice. It is believing that every person – male or female – has the right to choose what is best for his or her mind, body, and/or soul. Lifestyle preference, personal decisions, beliefs or ideals… it doesn’t matter. Feminism is the belief that everybody has the right to determine what he or she wants out of life.

Being a feminist, girls, does not mean that we should scream at men who open doors for us. News flash: it is a common courtesy. I hold doors for men and women alike all the time; I don’t treat others differently based on their gender. And when men (or women!) hold doors open for me, do you know what I do? I smile and say, “Thank you,” Doing so does not mean that I’m weak or that I’m submitting to authority. It means I’m being a polite freaking person.

In addition, being a feminist means that you do not need to cook all the meals for your family or do all the cleaning purely because you are a woman. It does not mean that you have to tolerate any sort of abuse from anybody. You can wear short skirts. You can wear low-cut shirts. You’re allowed to be girly every now and then, but you don’t always have to look like Donna Reed.

Here is another cold truth that extremists have a hard time accepting: if a woman wants to be a housewife and raise children all her life, for God’s sake, let her. We need more women at home raising strong and mentally-healthy kids. My mom, as an example, quit her job to raise my autistic little brother and I, and I can only imagine how I might have turned out if she had just sat me in front of a TV all day or herded me from daycare to daycare. And women who identify as whimperers need to understand that if a woman wants to be a career woman and run multiple corporations and never settle down, they need to let her. It makes her happy, and she and her businesses are probably making the world a better place. Look at all the influential women helping to run the country today! How on earth would we be where we are at without them?

As a feminist, I accept the fact that I have no control over anybody other than myself, and I accept the fact that I do not have the right to judge anybody – male or female – based on the decisions he or she has made or continue to make. We are all bound to one another and it is our duty to love and accept each other even if we don’t personally agree with decisions that are made. We’re all in this together. It’s that simple.

Right now, I can’t bear to watch the screamers and whimperers go at it, nor can I stand to watch the indifference that is shown by plenty of people. It is my hope that someday, true feminism will come to light again, and that these people will realize that their viewpoints on women’s rights, when conflicted, accomplish nothing besides extending a giant catfight.

And so, I leave you with a few quotes worth thinking about:

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” ~ Roseanne Barr

“You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman.” ~ Jane Galvin Lewis

“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” ~ Madonna

And my favorite…

“To tell a woman everything she may not do is to tell her what she can do.” ~ Spanish Proverb

Thoughts? Questions? Ideas? Post them below.

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