Feminism is for everyone, but both women and men continue to misconstrue the true meaning of feminism and what it really stands for.
A Nigerian writer once defined a feminist best as a “person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”
Yes, this part of the writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech entitled “We Should All Be Feminists” was the sample highlighted in Beyoncé’s song “Flawless.”
“I think one of the biggest misconceptions about feminism is that it liberates women at expense and cost of men,” said sexuality studies graduate student Chris Bannister. “In reality feminism seeks to expose the heteronormative and repressive sexist agenda that has been placed upon both men and women.”
There are many men who align themselves with feminism, and I applaud them for that. But it also seems there are others who identify as feminist as an excuse for mistreating women. This is especially portrayed in media by high-profile celebrities.
Most people have heard pop artist Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” and have seen the controversial music video that was labeled “rapey” and misogynistic. Thicke then responded to the negative flack arguing that it was acceptable for him to objectify women because he has so much respect for them.
“We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this,” said Thicke in an interview with GQ magazine. He also goes as far as to say that the song is a “feminist movement in itself” on The Today Show.
It has been heard time and time again that men engage in sexist behavior but actually claim they love women and see women as equals. Labeling one’s self as a feminist does not erase this sexist behavior.
“Misogyny was prevalent in most aspects of my life, from the music I listened to to even the words I used,” said Naimah Mumin, a computer science major. “And once I started discovering some little chunks of feminism, the entire world was revealed and I was able to critically look at the culture I lived in.”
Men are not the only culprits of misinterpreting what feminism really stands for. When people hear the word feminism, what comes to mind to many is man hating and bra burning, but this is a stigma of the definition of feminism and an ignorant approach to the term.
In 2012, pop star Taylor Swift was asked if she identified as a feminist in an interview with The Daily Beast, implying she did not exactly understand what the term meant.
“I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life,” she said.
High-profile celebrities like Taylor Swift and Robin Thicke are constantly in the public eye. So many people look up to them as authoritative figures offering guidance and all-around idols. Unfortunately, their credibility can be easily diminished when ignorant statements are made.
Luckily, Swift decided to look up what the term actually meant and corrected herself.
“As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities,” said Swift in Vanity Fair. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means.”
Not everyone must identify as a feminist. It is important, however, for everyone to educate themselves on the topic in order to intelligently back up his or her stance on it.