A brother sent me the photo above and said these are misconceptions of feminism.

I do agree that people have different ideas about what feminism is and the term can mean very different things to different people – to which one might agree or disagree depending on their individual beliefs and values. 

However I would not go as far as to call those ideas/meanings misconceptions and here is why – with specific reference to the points in the photo above

What is Feminism and what is not? 

To put it simply I would say feminism is a movement to establish equal economic, social, political rights for women as there are for men. There is a variety of definitions – equality of the sexes, equal opportunities for women, etc. All of them highlighting EQUAL. So what does this mean – in reference to the “misconceptions” in the photo?

“Misconception” 1: Women want to be equal to men

This begs the question, “Are women unequal to men?” I believe – as stated before, feminism at its core is about equality of men and women. Many people perceive it to be about “sameness”, a completely different argument altogether. But because of this, many people argue that women are not the “same” as men so there cannot be equality. In other words, because their bodies are different (women are deemed “weaker” and smaller), and because they have different physical capabilities, equality is not possible. It’s critical to understand that “sameness” in this case does not mean “equal.” 

The issue here is about equal rights and equal access to opportunities.  Men and women do not have to be the “same” in physicality in order to be seen as equals. And here’s an example of why: If two young boys were in the same class – one weaker and smaller than the other, would we believe it is right to deprive the weaker, smaller boy equal access – to the teacher, to learning, to computers, to the books and class resources, just because he didn’t have the same physical strength as the other boy? 

The fact is there are many women who are physically stronger and larger than men so sometimes gender has nothing to do with. When given the same opportunities women can be equally great and in some cases greater than men, the same way some men are greater in certain things and not so great in others. So perhaps the misconception lies not with women wanting to be EQUAL to men, rather it is with people in general considering equality to mean SAMENESS in physicality. 

“Misconception” 2: We don’t need men 

Do men NEED women? If so, what for? And should those reasons be any different from why women should NEED men? And if not, then why must women NEED men?
This idea as I understand it comes from the level of dependence women have been forced to exhibit when deprived of equal opportunity.  

In Saudi Arabia for instance, all women must have a male guardian – a father, brother, husband or uncle. Girls and women are forbidden from travelling, conducting official business, or undergoing certain medical procedures without permission from their male guardians (after intense activism, the law has partially amended to exclude women over 21 years old from having a male guardian etc). Although women are now able to drive, women are still required to have men swear for them in a court of law. To buy or sell property, women must bring two men as witnesses to testify to her identity, and four male witnesses to testify that the first two are credible witnesses. So that’s six men. I hope you see where I am going with this. 

In some other cultures women are not allowed to move out of their parents’ house until they are married, they cannot rent an apartment or a house simply because they are single women. So these societies have created no other option for women but to be dependent on men to survive, to thrive – socially, financially, etc. And that is where the “We don’t need men” idea comes from – a way to say if women were given equal opportunities as men – allowed to work and earn their own, given the same social respect and access to professional status, women would not “NEED” men. 

I lay an emphasis on need because that word alone indicates the sentiments behind the opinion. The word “need” implies “requirement – an essential – a necessity” like plants NEED sunlight and water or they have no chance of survival, humans NEED oxygen or we die – an obligation rather than a desire/preference/a choice made on one’s own volition. I doubt that is the case for women and men. Safe to say, indeed, we don’t NEED men to survive.

“Misconception” 3: We are men

I have very little to say about this one as I believe feminism has very little to do with it. It is more biological than ideological. A woman who refers to herself as a man is maybe more than just a feminst that is if in fact she is a feminist at all – because this claim is contrary to the idea of feminism, which advocates FOR women’s rights – not men’s. So is this person advocating for men’s rights? I could say maybe this person is a misandrist but if she hates men why would she want to be a man?? In any case, “man” is a general term for both sexes so if that is what is meant by “we are men”, I understand. But maybe someone can explain this one further because I don’t quite see the feminism in it.

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1 Comment

  1. We want to be equal to men, for me its an understatement because we are indeed equal to men, man is a general term that can be referred to a woman as well (biblically). Physically women are doing what men are doing, check our villages they are the farmers, hunters and fishers. So is not about the size of our body or the sound of our shoes, but how big we are inside and the impact we create. If it about strength the pain we endure during childbirth they can’t endure one percent of it because they will not survive it. So my fellow women let boss up because we are the neck that carries the head of the man.


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