Ideas, good or bad, tend to spread. As intelligent as humans are as a species, many of the opinions we have are not our own. They come from the world around us and then we decide for ourselves whether or not these ideas fit with our current view of the world.
For decades, feminism has rarely been portrayed as very good by the media. This has had an incredibly negative effect on public perception of feminism, as a whole. Likewise, there has been a backlash of whiny men, claiming that society has become favourable to women over men and that feminists are the ones holding the reigns. Nearly every time there is a feminist in a movie or a television show, she is a bra burning, man hating, hairy legged, radical feminist that is extremely bitter towards men and generally an angry person. They are always female. A male feminist in the media is rarer than a pink unicorn. If one pops up, it’s usually for the purpose of being laughed at.
The thing is, the negative portrayal of feminism in the media is quite different from what the average feminist is. Of course, there are always fanatics in every social group, but that’s far from the norm in the case of feminists. Most are just normal, everyday women who want not only equality for both sexes, but for social attitudes towards women to change as well. And yes, many will argue that social attitudes towards men need to change too but, as a feminist, the title itself refers to women’s issues. That’s not to say that feminists can’t also identify with other titles that would refer to other social issues as well. No one is JUST a feminist.
At it’s core, feminism is a political, cultural, and economic movement seeking greater rights and participation for women in society. Anyone who supports this push for more active participation and opportunity is a feminist – hardly a statement, to put it bluntly. Why, then, have the aims of feminism been constantly subverted and stigmatized? Inherently, sexism and male privilege play a significant role, but neither of these convey the whole story. Instead, the most virulent challenge that feminism faces is created by negative perceptions of feminists and movies, tv shows, and public figures who reinforce those negative perceptions. Rush Limbaugh is perhaps the most egregious of all offenders and is notorious for his disdain of the women’s movement. In his own words, “Feminism has led women astray. I love the women’s movement, especially when I’m walking behind it.” Hardly enlightening or even cute, but that’s actually much better than his earlier assertion that, “[f]eminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.” Though, he’s currently in his fourth marriage. Somehow I’m not surprised.
While those who believe firmly in feminist values will continue to fight for them, true gender equality can’t be achieved until the majority begin working towards achieving those aims. Negative perceptions of feminists have been incredibly damning to those efforts. In the end, the backlash from it has been creating an equality war between the sexes. “All men are this, all women are that.” I’d love to see men and women working together towards one common goal, equality and acceptance for both sexes and for all genders, across the spectrum. That is the goal for most modern feminists. Until next time, that’s what she said. Happy Women’s Equality Day!
Welcome to the future home base for the writing and art of Elle Zelicz.
Though there are pieces of my work that are strewn all over the internet, I’ve decided to finally begin publishing most of my work in one place, where it can be easily accessed by those interested in reading it.
Just a warning, though; while I do accept differing opinions in all shapes and forms, I have no interest in lowering myself to the level of petty arguments and hate. If you don’t like something I have to say, you’re welcome to comment but I ask that you please be respectful. If not for keeping those of us who don’t stoop that low from having to roll our eyes too hard, do it for your own reputation. You don’t want people thinking you have the intellect of a rock with a face painted on it, do you?
For those of you who do like my work, feel free to comment. I’ve always loved reading the comments that my readers leave for me. They inspire me to keep writing on those days where a blank piece of paper can become all too daunting.