'Feminists are man-hating' and 4 other fears about feminism
Last time I checked, "feminist" wasn't a bad word. But not everyone agrees. Vlogger Melissa Fabello shares five reasons you might be shying away from calling yourself a feminist.
In recent years, feminism seems to have gone mainstream, but not everyone's on board.
In her video "5 Reasons You Don't Want To Call Yourself A Feminist," Melissa Fabello has some ideas about why.
The good news is that with feminism back in the pop culture spotlight, lots of people are being exposed to important conversations about issues like sexism, the wage gap, sexual violence, and intersectionality. Feminism is becoming cool for an entirely new (and younger) generation.
But the downside of this renewed interest in feminism is now it seems every female celebrity is expected to make some sort of feminist declaration — and not all are ready. It took some, like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Shailene Woodley, a while to warm up to the word. But a lot still aren't super comfortable with it. Take Sarah Jessica Parker for example:
On being a humanist and not a feminist:
“As [playwright] Wendy Wasserstein would say, I'm a humanist. ... But I see a lot of people trying to sort out their roles. People of color, gays, lesbians, and [transgender people] who are carving out this space. I'm not spitting in the face or being lazy about what still needs to be done — but I don't think it's just women anymore. We would be so enormously powerful if it were a humanist movement." — Sarah Jessica Parker, Cosmopolitan
The problem is, humanism and feminism aren't mutually exclusive ideas, which says Sarah may have some learning to do. But the funny part is that she then went on to champion some pretty feminist ideas like income equality and child care. So why the shyness to wear the scarlett "F"? Whatever the reasons are, she and other celebrities are not alone.
Here are the five reasons listed in the video above (with my commentary) for why some people — maybe even you? — don't identify as a feminist.
1. You don't want people making assumptions about your sexual orientation.
For some reason there's this pesky rumor floating around that being a feminist means you're gay. Lemme first start off by saying there's nothing wrong with being gay. Still, the stigma associated with being LGBTQ is not something some people want to deal with, regardless of their orientation.
But here's the thing: You can't control what other people think of you no matter how hard you might try. Remember, the only person who has a right to define your sexual orientation is you. When it comes to people assuming you're gay, "that's none of your business" or "that's not relevant to this conversation" goes a long way.
2. You're worried people will think you're "too serious" or "can't take a joke."
Yeah, that happens. Lots of people incorrectly assume that being a feminist means you're uptight or oversensitive. Now I'll admit, I've been accused of being a Negative Nancy for shutting down rape jokes or speaking out against street harassment. And while I don't like being told to "lighten up" when I bring up these issues, people are always going to object to being called out on problematic words or actions, feminist or otherwise. So you might as well speak the truth, right?
3. People think feminists are "man hating."
Of course no one wants to be called a "hater" of any kind. But there's one major flaw when it comes to linking feminism to hating men. Feminism is about social, economic, and political equality. And equality isn't about hating anyone. Boom. Myth busted.
4. Calling yourself a feminist could alienate you from your friends and family.
When it comes to standing up for your beliefs, there are always going to be people who have a problem with it. Learning more about feminism means being more aware of the things around you that are keeping progress from being made. And sometimes the people and things that are standing in the way might be in your own circle. Sure they could react negatively and pull away, but they could also be happy to talk and learn too! You never know. And being yourself, standing up for what you believe in and educating people you care about is definitely worth the risk. Trust me.
5. You don't want to act differently.
Calling yourself a feminist isn't a one-and-done process. Saying you want equality for women isn't enough. You have to do some work too. But everyone's activism isn't the same. For some people, being a feminist means going to protests and rallies; for others, it's tweeting about important issues or sharing articles on Facebook. Action is important, but how you choose to express your values is completely unique to you and doesn't have to change your entire personality or lifestyle.
Do any of those fears sound familiar?
Are they holding you back from calling yourself a feminist? Or maybe some of your friends? Or maybe — god forbid — even your favorite celebrity? Well, I'm a proud feminist, and even I had some of those worries back in the day.
But eventually I realized that while a label doesn't define me, it could help me be a part of a powerful movement of people who are fighting for something I really believe in: complete and total equality. I figured out that as a woman, I have the power to kick those fears right in the ass forever. All in the name of feminism.