Introductory Post and Some Myths about Feminists Disputed

I have wanted to start a feminism and sexuality blog for a while.  My stumbling block is that I am not sure exactly what I want to do with it (hint: if you have any ideas let me know!).  Basically, I have decided to start and see what happens (which I do not like doing, as I generally enjoy having at least the vaguest of outlines).  At the moment I am planning to write on feminist musicians/artists, reviews of movies from a feminist perspective, books reviews or suggestions.  The sexuality stuff will be woven in there somehow, probably starting with the book reviews and going into some random topic pieces.

I figured the first post should be a sort of introduction to feminism and sorry that it turned out a bit long.

Think for a second about what a feminist is.  What does this person look like?  What does this person wear?  What does this person sound like when talking?  Would you actually want to spend time with this person?

For many of you (I hope), one of your first thoughts was “Tori, how can I know?  There are so many types of feminist!”  If you are the general population, however, you may think something along these lines.  “Well, she is probably an angry lesbian that doesn’t shave and hates men.”  (I know this is a bit of a simplification, but it serves an illustrative purpose.)

Do not worry if you fell into the trap of generalization that might shove you into the second group.  One of the points of this post and this blog is to show that the first group is correct. There are a few assumptions and misconceptions that cause this misunderstanding.  These problems are not helped by the media who like to portray feminists as angry women bent to bring about the end of mankind as we know it (ok, so that isn’t totally wrong, but it certainly does not deserve panic or accusations of bringing down God’s wrath).

The first assumption I want to point out is that a feminist is a female.  There are male feminists (if my boyfriend will not agree to this, than I will make him sit through a PowerPoint probing to him that he is).  For some male feminist seems like an oxymoron.  The fact is that all this means is that the man believes that women are equal.  That women deserve the same pay for the same job and they do not deserve to be objectified or limited solely because of their gender.  These men can also be fighting for equal rights for men in roles traditionally assumed by women.  They may want paternity leave or daycare for their children.

This also goes into the idea that feminists hate men.  The fact is that most feminists are fighting for complete equality.  They do not want to be superior to men. I am not saying there are not women who think that men should be subservient, but they are not the majority.

The other big assumption is that feminists do not want to be “pretty” or do not follow our culture’s rules on appearance.  I will fully admit to both of these things.  I am an American woman, born and raised, and I fall under a lot of what we would consider typical American female behavior.  However, I do admit that what I do as far as make-up, clothes and vanity is ridiculous.  I shave, wear make-up, a bra (though this is because when you are size E it hurts if you do not) and occasionally heels.  And, yes, the reasons are because I feel sexier when my legs and armpits are smooth, my breasts are perkier and my eyes are highlighted.  These are all things I was taught to believe as I grew up.   Some feminists, of course, do not shave or wear make-up.  They feel that rejecting this vane part of our culture, the restrictions put on women’s appearances, frees them from some of the oppression or at least rebels against it in a tangible way.  And I do not disagree with them.  These women are not the majority, though.  Most feminists (especially if you include those who hold feminist ideals but do not call themselves that) shave, wear make-up with some regularity and enjoy feeling “pretty”.

The easiest point to argue is that most feminists are lesbians.  I do not know the actual statistics, so I cannot tell you if the percentage of feminist lesbians is higher than non-feminist lesbians, but I do know that the majority of feminists are not lesbians.

Basically, feminists want equal rights for women and men.  There are a lot of big issues and small ones that may seem absurd to some people (which are the ones I enjoy exploring the most and you can look forward to hearing about here).  Most of you who read this are probably feminists.  Frankly, feminism, like every other political issue, is on a scale.  There are those who are against it, neutral, for it but not passionate, passionate and then of course scary.

If you are not sure if you are a feminist, here’s a little quiz I found online to check on your level of feminism.  It isn’t perfect, since it does not go into the idea that men should be equal as well, a.ka. receive paternity leave, but it is a decent simplification.


About Tori

I am a graduate student working on my masters in Women and Gender studies. My masters thesis is on the gender nonconformity and ambiguity in modern film.
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