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KHQ Today

Bad Feminism Threatens Positive Movements to Equality

Diana Dudenhoeffer and Kelli Volonte

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Feminism, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”  While this looks simple on paper, it’s important to recognize that there are many facets, forms, types and degrees of feminism. Feminism means different things to different people, and it doesn’t look the same from person to person.

Society views feminists as these sweaty, burly dykes who don’t shave and hate men.  Many people roll their eyes when they hear the F-word, and that’s unfair. Not all women who are feminists fit this stereotype (and if they do, that’s okay, too!)

These stigmas exist for a reason.  The world we live in encourages us to not fight for equality, to not fight to change the status-quo and to not strive to enact positive change in the world.

Feminism is not a cult of mean women who want to take over the world.  And it’s not a means to hate men. It’s an outlet to get rid of oppression and find empowerment among like-minded individuals.  And masochism isn’t the only threat to feminism.

Bad feminism may be a growing threat to good feminism.  Bad feminism is promoting the idea that men are trash and that they are bad people.  It’s thinking that women are superior and pushing the agenda that misandry is the only way to enact change.  It may be difficult to see bad feminism in action, and that’s what we’re doing to dissect.

 

Am I a bad feminist if I’m grossed out by the menstrual cycle?

Diana – It’s perfectly natural to be disgusted or grossed out by something that you don’t understand.  And you shouldn’t blame yourself for feeling grossed out because that’s what society’s told you is the only acceptable reaction to a woman’s natural body functions.  And that’s unfair. You shouldn’t HAVE to be grossed out by your period–menstruation is natural and healthy. Possibly by researching and gaining a deeper understanding of what happens to your body throughout your cycle will banish some of that confusion, fear, and feelings of disgust.  No, it doesn’t make you a bad feminist to be grossed out by the menstrual cycle. Nobody ENJOYS bleeding for a week once a month, but even if you are disgusted, be sure that you’re taking care of yourself during your period. Just because it’s gross doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

Am I a bad feminist if I like to dress up, paint my nails, and do other traditionally feminine things?

Diana – Feminism looks different on different kinds of people.  What is oppressive to some can be empowering to others. As a feminist, you should be encouraging others to wear what makes them happy, and if presenting yourself as feminine is what makes you happy, then more power to you!  If wearing jeans and a T-shirt is what makes you feel most comfortable in your own skin, then you should do it for sure.

 

Am I a bad feminist if I have conservative / republican views?

Diana – This is a tricky one, especially because feminism is almost always associated with democrats, progressives and liberals.  But feminism is all about supporting everyone and advocating for everyone’s equality, so it shouldn’t matter what your political views are.  So long as your personal beliefs aren’t contradicting what feminists stand for, anybody can identify as feminist. It’s tricky, though, because republican views are often associated with racism, homophobia, and sexism.  Of course these terrible traits do not go hand-in-hand with every person with conservative views; they are only generalizations that people make, and they may be true about some people, but definitely not all of them. Everybody can be a feminist, so long as you’re not contradicting yourself.  No, you’re not a bad feminist if you have conservative or republican views because, although feminism has roots in politics, it is also a social issue.

 Am I a bad feminist if I’m a lover and not a fighter?

Diana – There’s this argument against feminism: “If you want equality, how come men can’t hit women?  I thought you wanted everything to be equal.” This argument is dumb! I don’t know why those who pose this argument are so eager to hit people.  Violence never seems to solve any problems; in fact it can just create more problems. Instead of simply jumping to violence in the face of disagreement, why don’t we just address the situation civilly?  No, you’re not a bad feminist if you don’t wish to jump to violence. In fact, I might argue the opposite. Let’s just not hit people at all as a general rule.

 

Am I a bad feminist if I’m a stay-at-home-mom or have a traditionally female job?

Diana – The way society views stay-at-home-moms is ugly.  People are quick to assume that women who choose to stay at home in order to raise their children are uneducated, lazy and do not contribute to society.  We think that these women do not work hard and are leeching off their husbands. This notion is not just insulting; it’s dangerous. Historically, women did not have a choice between working as a professional or as a parent, even if they were in a safe socio-economic situation.  Now that many women DO have a choice, we should embrace that. (There are still many women who don’t have a choice about what they want to do with their lives due to life circumstances or economic situations, but those people don’t inherently have less worth because of this.) When a woman makes a personal choice about her life, whatever that may be, we should be encouraging it. You are NOT a bad feminist if you’ve chosen (or if you didn’t choose!) to stay at home and raise your kids over a career or vise-versa.

Am I a bad feminist if my favorite color is pink?

Diana – This is dumb!  It’s a color! Let people like whatever they want and leave them alone! Colors have deeper meanings and symbolism in society, and there’s no changing that.  Red can mean lust, power, danger or passion. But it can also just be red. Pink just so happens to have generally feminine implications. Pink can be a blushing girl’s face or a demure flower.  But pink can be whatever you want! Just because pink is traditionally associated with a female aura doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. You are not a bad feminist if pink is your favorite color; in fact, you should embrace the color pink and make it mean whatever you want it to mean!

Am I a bad feminist if I judge other people’s feminism?

Diana – This is another tricky one.  On the one hand, it’s human nature to judge people because it’s important to recognize your place when you are among others.  On the other hand, judging other’s feminism can be just another form of oppression. Women should be empowering each other in a world that often encourages us to be docile, submissive and quiet.  You’re not a bad feminist if you judge other people’s feminism, but there begins to be some gray area once you start pointing fingers and take action based on those judgements. Above all else, it’s crucial to try to find some common ground, to try to understand each other and to lift each other up.  Feminism is all about equality, so why would you push back against that and become a part of the problem?

Am I a bad feminist if I call other women bitches?

Diana – In all honesty, I think there is a lot of grey area surrounding this particular question.  If you’re saying it to be mean, like “Diana’s being such a bitch today,” then the word just becomes another rude thing to call somebody.  While name-calling isn’t polite by any means, it’s bound to happen. And it doesn’t make you a bad feminist to call people names because it’s natural to feel emotions that may prompt you to call someone a name.  Emotions like anger, contempt, disgust and frustration are all natural feelings, but be careful what you do when you’re feeling these emotions. If you’re saying “bitch” as an exclamation or term of endearment, like “Bitch, I love you!” then I think you’re okay.  Bitch can be an oppressive word, but when the oppressed use it among themselves in order to alter the connotation of the word, it can be a means of empowerment. The LGBT+ community has used this for words like “faggot” and “dyke,” and black people have done the same thing for the N-word.

Am I a bad feminist if I use derogatory words like “pussy”?

Kelli:

The slang term, pussy, was derived from the word pusillanimous; which means to show lack of courage or determination. Society currently uses that word to describe female genitalia or a cowardly man. The fact that those two definitions go hand in hand is incredibly disheartening, especially because women’s reproductive parts is one of the most hardcore parts of a human body. For me, using those words depends on the context and the meaning. When I use the word “pussy”, my intent is not associated with society’s definitions. I use the actual meaning of where the slang term originated. As for other derogatory words, like slut or whore, those are not part of my vernacular specifically because of their definitions.

It’s up to your digression to use those terms with what intent and context, but feminism is not about degrading other people.

No matter who you are, equality and feminism is crucial in the world.  Even if you aren’t feminist, you should at least be respectful of everyone who does fight for equality.  And if you are feminist, you shouldn’t hold yourself to a standard of perfection. Don’t worry about being a bad feminist; as Roxane Gay (author of the book Bad Feminist) says, it’s better to “be a bad feminist than not a feminist at all.”

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