Feminism has evolved throughout the years, from First-Wave Feminism to the feminism we know today. As history changes, its definition becomes blurry for some, creating myths and misconceptions about feminism and women empowerment.
So now, what is feminism?
bell hooks, a feminist and a scholar, has a simple definition: “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.”
Whatever feminism standpoint you have, from the scholarly viewpoint or mainstream, feminism has always been a fight against the patriarchal system. It is a belief with a core grounded in equality—social, political, and economic. And most misconceptions about feminism and women empowerment erase that very core.
Here, we have debunked some of the misconceptions about empowered women who believe in feminism:
- Feminists are just radicals who hate men.
As bell hooks said, “Patriarchy knows no gender.”
Feminism is not a political belief that discriminates men. It fights for equality. It is against discrimination and that includes discrimination against the male gender. Feminism doesn’t only pursue the liberation of women, but also liberating men from standards that society imposes. It is a movement that challenges the institutions that create stereotypes and double standards, limiting both women and men from being empowered and living a life of equality.
- Women can’t be feminine and be a feminist at the same time.
Feminism and women empowerment is all about giving women the freedom to choose. That means being able to express themselves as empowered women, in a feminine or masculine way—without any limits. It is fundamentally about breaking all the norms that limit women. It means allowing women to love florals and high heels and still believe in the importance of equal pay or empowering marginalized women.
- Feminists can only be women.
The reality is, anyone who believes in gender equality is a feminist. Feminism doesn’t mean only about caring about women or creating empowered women. One aspect of feminism is untangling the negative stereotypes about masculinity that harms men and create marginalized groups. That includes masculinity equates to violence. Anyone who fights to break these kinds of patriarchal beliefs is a feminist.
- There is no need for feminism. Women have the right to vote and take jobs.
The influx of empowered women who have jobs and have the right to vote doesn’t equate to the end of feminism. Women empowerment is not just about that. There are still women who struggle because of inequality, from being paid less than the average man to being emotionally and sexually abused. For as long as inequality exists, and while there are empowered women who fight, feminism is a necessity.
- Feminists are anti-marriage and against motherhood.
Being an empowered woman doesn’t equate to demolishing the importance of marriage and motherhood. While actively pursuing women empowerment, a lot of feminists are married and are mothers. These women fight for the rights of mothers, knowing the positive impact of a happy family in creating better wellbeing for all its members, both male and female.