The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
Flower Power Botanicals in Fort Collins Celebrates ‘420’ all April with these amazing Deals & Promotions:
April 15, 2024

In Colorado, April is always the month to celebrate, especially if you are a medical and recreational marijuana dispensary in Fort Collins. On...

Labels only go so far: How feminism can be counterproductive

Zara DeGroot
Zara DeGroot

Last spring I wrote a long-form column on the topic of feminism, discussing my thoughts and musings about the movement. The column went into detail of the movement’s origins, the motivation behind the start of it and what the word “feminism” means to me. Though that column expressed my view of feminism at that point in time, my opinion on the subject has continued to change and broaden. But hey, that’s what education is about, right? Gaining knowledge and altering one’s perspective.

The topic of feminism is at the forefront of our culture, and everyone seems to be talking about it. Whether feminist messages are being demonstrated through movies and television shows, modern writing or simply everyday discussion, the discourse around women’s rights is mainstream and constantly being explored and challenged.

Ad

I’m all for women’s social equality. As a woman myself, I see the need for change when it comes to the overall respect and dignity women receive from the media and from society. Over-sexualization and derogatory names perpetuate a socially-constructed female objectification that is far from healthy, and that’s just part of it. Though we have made progress, more can be done.

That being said, the idea of feminism being the answer to these issues remains unclear.

Last semester, out of an eagerness to learn more about feminism, I took a women’s studies course. But to my surprise, it was this class that make me realize I don’t consider myself as much of a feminist as I thought. Though educational and quite informative, the course exposed me to the inner workings of feminism, the politics behind it and all that it entails. And, trust me, it entails a lot. It was also here that the “man-hating” feminist stereotype starting making sense to me. To me, it seemed to be a negative way to spread awareness about a positive movement.

There is value in learning about the past and trying to understand what has happened along the way that has brought us to where we are now, especially regarding women’s rights. But rather than spending hours talking about the wrong-doings of the patriarchy and the need to dismantle it, we can be using our voices to empower and inspire.

There seems to be two sides of the feminism discussion — either you’re for it or you’re against it. But I believe there are larger conversations within this realm that people are avoiding or failing to recognize — and they need to be addressed. Feminism is not a black or white issue. There are expansive gray areas that people seem intimidated to enter into, but maybe addressing the gray is where change will be seen.

The issues that the feminist movement fight for are issues that everyone should be fighting for because they affect the entire society. Yet, when attached to the label “feminist,” these universal issues are readily discredited and brushed aside too easily by too many, which is unfortunate because these topics like equal pay for equal work, health rights and sexual assault — to name a few — are critical to the lives to many. 

In my opinion, these problems should be fought for by everyone who has the hopes for a better tomorrow. No one deserves to be mistreated, abused or taken advantage of — no matter what their gender is. That’s called human decency. There doesn’t always have to be a subgroup for every issue or an exclusive label for every cause you care about. Too often, this label-induced exclusivity hinders the issues that are being fought for.

Another problem within feminism is its limited scope. The majority of modern feminists — or at least the outspoken ones — are white, privileged, affluent women. There are subgroups of feminism working toward the advancement of women of color, but the umbrella term of feminism doesn’t extend much further. Without the inclusion of all women, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, etc., the point of feminism is completely lost.

By definition, I am a feminist. And I believe that everyone who has a compassionate heart and the desire to do good in the world is too, whether they choose to identify with the term or not. However, I don’t affiliate myself with the negativity and the cynicism that wrongfully comes from many modern-day feminists. I get “feminism,” but not so much “feminists.”

Ad

The term “feminist” is a label, and just because you coin that for yourself does not mean you are inherently after what feminism is about. You can live out feminism, having an equal respect for women and men, without announcing to everyone that you are a feminist. Just like high-waisted shorts and a flannel don’t automatically make you a hipster, a “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” sticker and the correct terminology don’t officially make you a feminist. When the label and the goal don’t match up, the outcome will not be coherent.

Believe it or not, I have talked with people who agree with me on this. None of these people are Taylor Swift, however, she shared her similar feminist understandings in an interview with The Guardian in 2014.

“What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men,” Swift said. “And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long, it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all.”

Exclusive labels only go so far. Calling yourself a feminist is one thing, taking action against issues you believe to be unjust is another.

And in the words of Taylor Swift, you can “take a feminist stance without actually saying so.”

Collegian columnist Zara DeGroot can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @zar_degroot. 

View Comments (21)
More to Discover

Comments (21)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • J

    JelzmarSep 11, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    “Last semester, out of an eagerness to learn more about feminism, I took a women’s studies course. But to my surprise, it was this class that make me realize I don’t consider myself as much of a feminist as I thought. Though educational and quite informative, the course exposed me to the inner workings of feminism, the politics behind it and all that it entails. And, trust me, it entails a lot. It was also here that the “man-hating” feminist stereotype starting making sense to me. To me, it seemed to be a negative way to spread awareness about a positive movement.”

    I’m looking forward to the article you write in a few years after you realise this feminism you learned about in gender studies that you didn’t like is the only real feminism and most people don’t know about nor understand it.

    Reply
  • P

    PaulSep 11, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    “The issues that the feminist movement fight for”

    …like stopping manspreading, camps for men, not cooking dinner, wrapping Christmas presents…

    “are issues that everyone should be fighting for because they affect the entire society. Yet, when attached to the label “feminist,” these universal issues are readily discredited and brushed aside too easily by too many,”

    That’s not because they’re attached to the label feminist it’s because they don’t exist or they’re twisted beyond aj recognition.

    “which is unfortunate because these topics like equal pay for equal work,”

    Already law in most Western countries, and has been for years. Your education would have been better served if you’d done a course on statistics.

    “health rights”

    For women. Who already live longer than men, have more research money spent on their health, have more options for birth control, are less likely to commit suicide, get health insurance subsidised by men because even though they make more claims it’s sexist to make them pay more for it, …

    “and sexual assault”

    By men against women, or just to explain away the male victims, by men against men. No mention of women against men, and even less of women against women. After all if women are assaulting women then there’s no man to blame.

    ” — to name a few — are critical to the lives to many.”

    They are and that’s why feminism needs to stop because it’s not helping and in fact it’s actively making things worse, and they know it.

    Reply
  • J

    June SwinfordSep 11, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    “I feel that man-hating is an honourable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.” – Robin ‘Morgan, Ms. Magazine Editor

    “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.” -– Valerie Solanas

    “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” — Andrea Dworkin

    “The more famous and powerful I get the more power I have to hurt men.” — Sharon Stone

    “In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent.” — Catherine MacKinnon

    “The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race.” — Sally Miller Gearhart

    “Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience.” – Catherine Comins

    “All men are rapists and that’s all they are” — Marilyn French

    Good luck finding human decency in a feminist movement that embraces this sort of rhetoric.

    Reply
  • M

    Maurice BrokerSep 11, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Equality for women can be achieved by the means of a lot of programs, politics and doctrines. There is no reason whatsoever to think feminism should hold the monopoly of this legend. I know, i know the dictionary says so – but the dictionary is just being unfair here, period. There is no dogmatic prohibition for someone that deffends equality for women to deffend that from different perspectives and from different doctrines.

    As any intelectual and political movement, Feminism is not immune to revision and critiques. It is perfectly acceptable to accept one or two of the main goals of feminism but reject the rest to the extend of being more justly called an anti-feminism. For example, I don`t have anything against the idea of equality for women, but I reject “patriarchy theory”, ~rape culture theory”, “privilege theory” and so on. Would it be fair to say that I don`t support equality for women unless i am obligated to support all those dogmas? I don`t think so. Most of the typical characteristics of feminism is based in a gynocentric (a womencentric) porpose of solution for the emantipation of traditional gender-dynamics. I oppose that. I think men has to be part of the conversation and negociation as much as women in the path to new gender-structures. There are experiences that men can`t have, but there are also experiences women can`t have. That`s not a reason to close all dialogue possibilities. If the conversation about gender and equality wants to be serious, it has to abandon the terminology tricks, the gynocentric rhetoric, the fight for the control of the themes, and the unilateral dramaturgies and dogmas. As a consequence, it has to give up the gratuitous indignation, the intelectual narcisism and the fallacies. This is not meant to be a war. It should be open to dialogue and not afraid to be revised.

    Reply
  • M

    Maurice BrokerSep 11, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Equality for women can be achieved by the means of a lot of programs, politics and doctrines. There is no reason whatsoever to think feminism should hold the monopoly of this legend. I know, i know the dictionary says so – but the dictionary is just being unfair here, period. There is no dogmatic obligation for someone that deffends equality for women to not deffend that from different perspectives and from different doctrines.

    As any intelectual and political movement, Feminism is not immune to revision and critiques. It is perfectly acceptable to accept one or two of the main goals of feminism but reject the rest to the extend of being more justly called an anti-feminism. For example, I don`t have anything against the idea of equality for women, but I reject “patriarchy theory”, ~rape culture theory”, “privilege theory” and so on. Would it be fair to say that I don`t support equality for women unless i am obligated to support all those dogmas? I don`t think so. Most of the typical characteristics of feminism is based in a gynocentric (a womencentric) porpose of solution for the emantipation of traditional gender-dynamics. I oppose that. I think men has to be part of the conversation and negociation as much as women in the path to new gender-structures. There are experiences that men can`t have, but there are also experiences women can`t have. That`s not a reason to close all dialogue possibilities. If the conversation about gender and equality wants to be serious, it has to abandon the terminology tricks, the gynocentric rhetoric, the fight for the control of the themes, and the unilateral dramaturgies and dogmas. As a consequence, it has to give up the gratuitous indignation, the intelectual narcisism and the fallacies. This is not meant to be a war. It should be open to dialogue and not afraid to be revised.

    Reply
  • J

    Jason SinclairSep 11, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    IMO the word “Feminism” regardless of it’s roots or history has been hopelessly destroyed by the vocal and obviously bigoted people who purport to be a part of it. Its time for a seed change all together. Use Egalitarian, or Humanist or Equalist. Something that won’t immediately conjure up the image of someone screaming “Patriarchy!” at every problem in society or “MEN!” as an epithet.

    Reply
  • F

    Fidel BlakstroSep 11, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    This is a trojan horse.

    Reply
  • T

    TrachealSep 10, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    One cannot ‘play nice’ with officially coddled gender bigots unless one intends to commit suicide as a target of same.

    Reply
    • E

      Eighth DaySep 11, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Nobody is asking that you “play nice” with bigots. Standing up for something you believe in, and joining the Twitter hate mob to harass and bully somebody because of something they said to the point where they lose their jobs and fear for their lives is quite another.
      Also, we’re just asking you to stop making issues out of non-issues.

      Reply
      • T

        TrachealOct 1, 2015 at 12:12 am

        Hysterical hate movements like today’s mainstream Woman’s Movement are always important issues. Harrassing and bullying these harrassing and bullying haters is just fine even IF they lose their jobs because they regularly do same to their enemies. Before you babble self-serving nonsense about THEM fearing for THEIR lives you might address the murderous hatred coming from the mouths of their celebrated heroines.

        Reply
        • E

          Eighth DayOct 8, 2015 at 4:05 pm

          Feminists are funny. They want to stop online harassment but they’re the guilty. Their two edged sword is biting back! http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/7/bahar-mustafa-uk-college-diversity-officer-arreste/

          Reply
        • E

          Eighth DayOct 22, 2015 at 1:23 pm

          This seems like an exercise of #doubleThink. Mob mentality leads to witch hunts, which leads to hysteria and injustice.

          Reply
      • T

        TrachealOct 9, 2015 at 12:11 pm

        When you talk about the Twitter hate mob which harrasses and bullies people I assuming you are talking about feminists like say those behind Charlotte Proudman? As for issues, gendered bigotry and female supremacist fascism will always be serious ones until we end your evil Women’s Movement AND destroy The Woman Racket (Moxon) altogether. So stop asking and start working on same.

        Reply
    • M

      Maurice BrokerSep 11, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      That`s an amazing example of narcisistic logic. You cant even see that if you figure it out – or decide – who is a bigot before even listen to him/her, you are doing exactly what bigots do. But I guess that is the `modus operandi` of bigots. I never cease to be amazed how certain people`s brain works.

      Reply
      • T

        TrachealOct 1, 2015 at 12:07 am

        You wish girlfren. That statement came following lots of ‘lovely’ experience with your favorite gendered bigots. They unfailingly attack one’s person with vile shame games rather than the issues with reason. After the umpteenth time, one begins to get a clue in terms of the totalitarian nature of the femi-nazi tyranny.

        Reply
  • T

    TrachealSep 10, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Feminism IS the hatred of men inculcated into almost every Western institution. Everyone other than brainwashed bigots opposes the world’s largest and most officially coddled anti-male hate movement. And because cowardly feminist censors control the lame stream faux-liberal media this comment is most likely be censored.

    Reply