Misconceptions of Feminism

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines feminism as “the belief that men and women should

have equal rights and opportunities,” so why would anyone reject being considered a “feminist”?

It could be because of the common misconceptions that people hold about what feminism is and

what it means to be a feminist. Seeking to bring clarity to this topic, some feminists of Wilkes

University offer their refutes to these misconceptions.

One popular notion about feminists is that they hate men, or that feminism is harmful to men,

arguing that it seeks to diminish their role in society.

“Feminism is not at all about hating men, putting men down, or demeaning men,” said Dr. Helen

Davis, associate professor of English and interim chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies

Department. “It is about striving for a more equal world. It’s good for men too because an

unequal society is not good for anyone.”

Davis goes on to say that it is also incorrect that feminists can only be women, as there are many

men that realize a strong culture is better for all and thereby identify as feminists. She also rejects

the widespread belief that feminists are against marriage.

“As a feminist, I fully embrace the right for women to make their own life choices, whatever that

looks like. It’s about having the choice,” says Davis.

Another argument that undermines feminism and the need for it is that gender equality simply

isn’t an issue.

“If gender equality isn’t an issue, why do women get paid less than men? Why are women the

overwhelming majority of victims of sexual and domestic abuse?,” says sophomore Danica

DeMesa. “Just because people don’t experience gender inequality doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

People may also shy away from being deemed a feminist because it is rumored that, if you

identify as such, you cannot be stereotypically “feminine.”

Both women contest this claim, as DeMaesa emphasizes that feminism includes a variety of

people, and supports women no matter how they choose to present themselves. Davis furthers

this point by saying that to reject someone as a feminist due to their appearance would mean

denying a large portion of the feminist population.

Many of these widely held misconceptions discourage people from identifying as a feminist.

However, hopefully when provided with a more thorough understanding of what feminism is

really about these hesitations will fall away.

“We [women] don’t have strong media representations, we don’t have women in positions of

political power, we still have many women experiencing systems of discrimination in the work

force, and we still have a very prevalent rape culture,” says Davis. “Until that changes we still

need women and men who are willing to fight for the rights of women to be treated fairly and

equally, and I don’t understand how anyone can be against that.”