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'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.

'Feminists are man-hating' and 4 other fears about feminism

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.


Beyoncé "woke up like this." GIF by MTV Style.

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.

Xena was a warrior princess, not a man hater.

via ABC and Bee Gees / YouTube

A year ago a woman in Pearland, Texas helped save her husband's life because of her quick thinking and the sweet, four-on-the-floor disco beat of the Bee Gees.

After finishing a two-mile run with her husband Quan, Ganesa Collins watched him fall to the ground. "We sat on the bench, and he was in front of me," Collins told ABC. "I was standing behind and stretching, and he just went face forward. His head hit the dirt."

She quickly called 911 and the operator said he was having a heart attack.

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via ABC and Bee Gees / YouTube

A year ago a woman in Pearland, Texas helped save her husband's life because of her quick thinking and the sweet, four-on-the-floor disco beat of the Bee Gees.

After finishing a two-mile run with her husband Quan, Ganesa Collins watched him fall to the ground. "We sat on the bench, and he was in front of me," Collins told ABC. "I was standing behind and stretching, and he just went face forward. His head hit the dirt."

She quickly called 911 and the operator said he was having a heart attack.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."