Man-hating, bra-burning not true reflection of feminism
The word ‘feminism’ seems to get a rise out of people nowadays. If you claim to be a feminist, most people assume that you’re a man-hater who thinks women should have an advantage in society.
UH creative writing and literature doctoral candidate Allie Rowbottom studied Sexuality and Gender Studies as an undergraduate. Her definition of feminism is one that speaks of equality.
“Feminism, for me, is a movement made up by multiple approaches and ideologies pointed at achieving equal social, economic, sexual and political rights for all, regardless of gender identity or biological sex.”
The idea that all feminists must be women is horrendous. Rowbottom has a theory as to how this stereotype may have come about. “The emphasis on women’s rights in feminism stems from the simple fact that women have historically been denied the same rights as men,” Rowbottom said.
However, one thing most feminists try to preach is that it does not mean you have to be a woman to support women’s rights, just as you do not have to be gay to support gay rights or a minority to support racial equality.
In regard to she feels about the stereotype that feminism has garnered, Rowbottom said it’s frustrating.
“I run up against these stereotypes every single semester in the classroom, and what I find the most disheartening about them is that the majority of students supporting them are female. Most girls, it seems, don’t want to be perceived as man-hating, because they’re not – and this is understandable,” Rowbottom said.
“What I try to show in the classroom is that feminism is not, as is the popular myth, an effort to dethrone men and put women in their place. It’s simply an effort to level the playing field, which, ultimately, is better for everyone.”
If feminists should have any stereotype, it should be the wish to achieve equality for all. It is a shame that such hatred is put on those who call themselves ‘feminist,’ because after all, wanting equality for everyone — regardless of their anatomy — should not be a crime.
The concept of feminism is not to hate on a specific gender, male or female; it is about achieving the equality every person in this country deserves — within natural rights.
“There’s so much pressure on young men and women alike in the culture today. These burdens can only be dissolved by working together,” Rowbottom said.
Had feminists not been present in this country’s history, women would still be in the kitchen, and men would still be on the battlefield.
“(Feminism) is not about getting up on a soapbox with a megaphone, but about being the change you want to see,” Rowbottom said.
“You do not have to be Gloria Steinem to be a feminist. The feminists I most look up to are my female friends who get out there every day and effect change — either in the classroom, the office, in their creative writing or on the Internet,” Rowbottom said.
Other countries that are behind the United States in terms of social issues could look at our country’s feminist movement as part of the amazing progress that could not have been achieved without everyone, men and women, standing up for what is right.
“So we’ve come a long way and I think that’s something to celebrate and respect,” Rowbottom said.
People can assume all feminists are bad people, but when it comes down to it, feminism is not a bad thing. It has affected this country in a positive way, and we still need it around to help everyone fully and freely live their lives.
Opinion columnist Blake Mudd is a journalism freshman and may be reached at [email protected]