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Misconceptions of Feminism

(93 Posts)
FrothyDragon Thu 18-Oct-12 14:23:25

So, following on from the NetMums survey, I started thinking about common misconceptions of feminism.

I'm still relatively new to feminism (Have only identified as a feminist for three years.) But I was just wondering: What misconceptions have you heard about Feminism? Can we bust a few feminist myths here?

A classic for me was being told, in the middle of a meeting for forming a group aimed at providing women with a women only meeting space: "Well, we didn't want to be seen as feminists last time we ran the group... Y'know, man-hating bra burning lesbians". Sadly, I was too shocked to reply succinctly at the time.

StaceeJaxx Thu 18-Oct-12 14:25:25

Well on the other thread one poster said non-working mothers were hardly likely to be feminists. hmm That type of attitude pisses me off! I've been a feminist for a lot longer than I've been out of work or a mother!

Frans1980 Thu 18-Oct-12 19:57:42

Just a few things off the top of my head:

-man haters
-prudish
-hairy legs
-old women who live alone with lots of cats
-telling non-feminist women how to live their lives
-lesbians
-wanting more than equality ie privileges at the expense of men

If this is the image of feminism then it's not surprising not everyone is quick to embrace the term.

PeggyCarter Thu 18-Oct-12 20:02:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PretzelTime Thu 18-Oct-12 20:40:35

I find it a bit laughable now what things like hairy women or a lesbians would be scary and negative. I can think of worse things!! But when I was young these views did keep me from reading about feminism or talking to known pro-feminists even if I would have benefited greatly from it. There was this diffuse fear of the terrible, shouty feminist woman...what on earth would she do to me that was so bad? Well, change my mind and make me unacceptable to rest of society too, probably. I guess that was the fear. Fear of women behaving in way that doesn't please men...fear of the consequences of that.

ConsiderCasey Thu 18-Oct-12 20:51:50

I was just about to say Pretzel! I think part of the problem is that being a hairy legged aged lesbian who loves her cats is regarded as a bad thing. I mean why? It sounds a luscious way to live to me!

I can only think that they are undesirable because they are not geared towards attracting a man which is Not A Good Thing.

SamuraiCindy Thu 18-Oct-12 21:03:46

I hate the whole 'man-hating' thing as well, but not because I care if people think I hate men or not. It takes the onus off women, which is where it SHOULD be in feminism, and tries to put it on men. It also suggests feminists are irrational, hysterical and bitter, seeking to cause division rather than actually trying to improve women's lives. By calling us men-hating it straight away alienates men and women who want to keep men happy.

AbigailAdams Thu 18-Oct-12 21:07:19

I am not actually sure what is wrong with hairy women, shouty women, dungarees, lesbians (unless you are homophobic) and living with cats (unless you are allergic to them - then it might be an issue). And well yes men will have to give up some of their privilege if we are to gain equality. Shows how much work the patriarchy have done in demonising women who step out of line. Only a few yrs ago I would have probably said all those things about feminism which is ridiculous. I agree Pretzel it is fear.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions is saying feminists are telling other women how to behave when they are critically analysing the reasons behind beauty practices (for example). To a certain extent I can understand why as it can feel threatening to have your choices questioned but it is a rare woman who will live a purely feminist life uninfluenced by the patriarchy. And even then how could you be sure that any of your choices weren't a reaction to or against your previous social conditioning?

The SAHM thing is just bizarre and I like to call it the Xenia-effect wink.

ConsiderCasey Thu 18-Oct-12 21:16:53

Basically, all those insults are quick and easy put downs. They're lazy but effective in keeping women away from feminism. In short, they work!

AbigailAdams Thu 18-Oct-12 21:18:11

Sorry took me so bloody long to write that hmm that I x-posted with the rest of you! So yes I agree with you smile

WereTricksPotter Thu 18-Oct-12 21:21:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MMMarmite Thu 18-Oct-12 21:22:18

This is a wonderful blog post about political cartoons stereotyping feminists from 1900 to today.

AbigailAdams Thu 18-Oct-12 21:27:19

I find that a interesting too WereTricksPotter.

WereTricksPotter Thu 18-Oct-12 21:32:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AbigailAdams Thu 18-Oct-12 21:35:44

Very interesting thanks for that MMMarmite.

MMMarmite Thu 18-Oct-12 21:50:04

You can see the "man-hating" theme from 100 years ago. It's interesting that men were already playing on fears of reverse discrimination, even when women were so politically powerless.

In the first cartoon though - the straw feminists look like they'd be a fun bunch to hang out with grin

MMMarmite Thu 18-Oct-12 21:50:59

(The first cartoon from 1906, not the avengers one)

Blistory Thu 18-Oct-12 21:56:08

That it's about choice. And that exercising choice alone makes you a feminist. And not understanding that without equality, we only have the illusion of choice.

summerflower Thu 18-Oct-12 22:16:52

>>That it's about choice. And that exercising choice alone makes you a feminist. And not understanding that without equality, we only have the illusion of choice. <<

YY to that, I so much agree.

summerflower Thu 18-Oct-12 22:23:19

I've always been a feminist, but for me the issues have kind of been the other way around.

My mother was a 1970s feminist, and really, she has at times come across as man-hating, child-hating, anything which chips away at your 'independence'-hating. She totally pushed me to be very career oriented and not to make the 'mistakes' she had.

It was very hard, against that upbringing, to realise that having children would not ruin my life, that being married would not ruin my life - and that feminism for me is about finding a balance. It is not about eschewing family life but fighting for an equality which is compatible with it, and which recognises women's needs, both as mothers and as human beings. If that makes sense.

CelineMcBean Thu 18-Oct-12 22:29:13

The idea that there is an official feminist stance on anything.

I always find that quite funny. Like the idea that all Socialists hold exactly the same opinions, or all conservatives. We are people, not the Borg.

Oh, and the idea that we have no sense of humour. Another odd one.

ComradeJing Fri 19-Oct-12 01:51:36

The idea that as a feminist you HAVE to live your life totally according to perceived "feminist principles". That any deviation - such as becoming a SAHM, wearing makeup, shaving - makes you a bad feminist or not a real one.

Ditto not fighting for every single feminist cause all at once. IME this is usually along the lines of, "why are you worrying about gender pay when FGM exists" or whatever. I realise this is a silencing tactic but I think it's still part of the myths of feminism that feminists have to deal with all of female worlds issues ALL AT ONCE.

monsterchild Fri 19-Oct-12 01:58:11

I think one of the misconceptions about feminism and civil rights in general is that the privileged seem to think it's a zero-sum game, when it isn't.

Also, the media have a huge impact on how folks think of any minority, and they play this by often purposely choosing folks from the minority who will play (either by trick or because of their style) into that stereotype and reinforce the idea that for one to win, others must lose.

Also, you can be a hairy legged woman with cats and have a DH, too!

WidowWadman Fri 19-Oct-12 06:59:37

The main misconception is that there's only one school of feminism.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 19-Oct-12 07:05:22

When women have little power, money or protection unless they are supported by a man, it's a really good wheeze to suggest that seeking such power, money or protection for themselves will make them unfuckable.

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