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In recent years, the word feminism, defined as “the social, economic and political equality of the sexes,” blossomed into an overarching concept that fits into ideas about personal identity.
This blossoming allows many people to explore their identity as a feminist, but it has also created a plethora of misconceptions about what feminism is and what it means to be a feminist.
Collectively, we are conditioned to have certain ideas about feminist activism, which include going directly against the social norms set for women, and exclude women who choose to adhere to these norms.”
College is a time for students to explore their identities and political affiliations, but myths about feminism are working their way into discussions about identity and politics. Discussing and disproving these myths is important to giving college students a clear understanding of what it means to be a feminist — showing them why they should identify as one.
The idea that feminists hate men and believe in female superiority has created a distaste for the feminist movement. You may have heard a man say that he is not a feminist because they hate him for something he cannot control.
Feminists fight for the equality of everyone, regardless of their sex or gender, and work to dismantle the patriarchal system. Although the patriarchal system favors men, it does not mean that all men benefit from it.
Gender exists on a spectrum, and traditional, stereotypical roles held by men and women have shifted to be more fluid. Although men are typically pushed into leadership roles within the workplace, that does not always mean that men are on top. As a man, being a feminist just means you believe women should have the same opportunities as men.
Misandry, unlike feminism, believes that the power structure should flip to have women in power and men at the bottom. Misandrists hate men and wish to see women rise above them in both the workplace and in everyday life. Although social media blurred feminism and misandry, we must distinguish these two concepts. Feminists do not hate men — misandrists do.
Another misconception about feminism is that it is synonymous with the disillusionment of motherhood and a lack of support for stay-at-home moms, instead favoring career-savvy women.
Women’s presence in industries is important to achieving equality, but that does not mean women who place raising their family above their careers are not feminists.
Collectively, we are conditioned to have certain ideas about feminist activism, which include going directly against the social norms set for women, and exclude women who choose to adhere to these norms.
Feminism does not require a woman to go through life shattering the glass ceiling whenever she can and using her full potential to further her career. You can believe in the equality of the sexes and also value motherhood and being a stay-at-home mom; they are not mutually exclusive.
It is not the actual act of motherhood and raising children that feminists have an issue with — it’s the patriarchal note motherhood carries within our society. Traditionally, women are expected to settle down and raise children.
Feminists, however, simply want to make this expectation a choice, opening every possible door for women.
Unsurprisingly, a majority of college-aged women identify as feminists. Feminism works to create equality between the sexes and is the reason women can go to college. Women’s opportunity to attend college was completely cultivated by feminists pushing for equality, not superiority.
Feminism as a concept is polluted with what the internet believes a feminist should look like. Anyone can and should believe in the equality of the sexes and want to make strides to support the equal advancements of men and women.
Myths about feminism have lent to a distaste for the feminist movement, misleading college students into believing feminism is anti-men and anti-marriage/motherhood, which is not the case at all.
Our job, then, as engaged college students, is to stop thinking about what a feminist should or should not be and focus on what a feminist is and could be: everyone.
Bella Eckburg can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @yaycolor.