Feminism is a highly charged word. It stirs so many emotions in people of all genders when they hear it — pride, confusion, hope, anger. And it causes a lot of ignorance to come out into the light. In an effort to push feminism forward and get more people on board with this essential equality all women deserve, we need to have even more conversations and educate those who either don’t understand the concept of feminism or have outdated ideas on the topic.
So we’re here to offer some great pointers and facts that you can serve up whenever you get into that next debate about feminism (cause you know it’s going to happen again). While you won’t be able to change everyone’s mind, you can provide information and encourage others to share their newfound knowledge. Because, as we all know, knowledge is power.
People Are Scared of the Word “Feminism”
For starters, don’t be afraid of the word feminism. Try to learn as much as you can about it while recognizing that you may have some ideas on it that are either stereotypical or outdated. Even the most woke and informed people have something to learn. Because there’s something holding people back from identifying as feminists; only 20% of Americans identify as such, while 80% believe that women and men are equal. Meanwhile, feminism means advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
Feminism is About Equality
Feminism is all about equality. It is the belief that men and women are equal, and should be treated as such. This means women should be granted the same rights, opportunities, and treatment as men. Whenever someone rolls their eyes or gets defensive when this f word comes up, just break this simple truth to them. It’s hard to argue with fair treatment for everyone.
Feminists Aren’t Men Haters
One of the most long-lasting, pervasive stereotypes is that feminists hate men. That they don’t date men, ridicule them at every moment, and want to dominate them and their lives. This is further from the truth. You can love men, be in a healthy relationship with a man, and be a feminist. A healthy relationship with a male should consist of him being an ally and fellow feminist.
The Equal Pay Act Went into Effect 56 Years Ago
For those who dismiss modern feminism by saying that women have already gained equality, just remind them of the Equal Pay Act. Promising that women would earn equal pay as men for the same job, the law was signed in 1963 by JFK. But it still hasn’t been put into effect (thanks to loopholes in the law)! Women continue to do the same work and get paid less. That is unfair, especially when it’s 2019.
Yet Women Still Earn Less Than Men
As we previously mentioned, in 2019, women are still making less than men for the same exact work. And it’s worse for black women and WOC. Out of all women, Latinas have it the worst, making only 53 cents for every dollar a white man made in 2018.
There Are Different Types of Feminism
Just like everything else in life, there are different types of feminism. You can be one type of feminist or a combination of several. It’s a good idea to look into as many different versions to not only figure out where you stand but to also understand other feminists and their priorities and beliefs. This will also make you more equipped to go into detail when asked about certain feminists and their actions.
Feminism Doesn’t Have a “Look”
This stereotype has to go. Not all feminists look the same. You don’t have to stop shaving your underarms, look masculine, wear a pink hat with cat ears, or be white. You don’t have to choose between being and looking girly, and being a feminist. You don’t have to throw your makeup away or think that embracing such things means you are a victim of the patriarchy. All you have to do is be you — we need to show that feminists represent all sorts of different looks and backgrounds.
Examples of Institutionalized Discrimination
Some of the things we do every day that keep feminism from being stronger than it is are “small” things that we often don’t even notice. But you have to change everything in order to create that seismic shift. Institutionalized discrimination, when it comes to gender, includes things like saying “hey guys” to a group of both men and women, and being bothered when a woman doesn’t act in the stereotypical/prescribed way in which we are expected to.
Many Feminists Are Not For Gender Essentialism
Gender essentialism is when certain qualities are assigned to women and men. Even if they are seen as positive, like when women are regarded as warm and caring, it works against feminism (we are boxed into being submissive, and acting a certain way). Not all women are going to be like this, and many men are. Just like not all men are unemotional or aggressive. This thinking leads to toxic masculinit and machismo — which works against feminism.
The U.S. Doesn’t Guarantee Paid Leave for New Mothers
Although many believe the U.S. is the greatest nation in the world, there is a lot of work we need to do to even match up with other countries. Take maternity leave, for example. It is said that in a whopping 188 countries, there is a guarantee of some sort of paid maternity leave for the mothers of newborns. Do you know who is not on that list? The United States of America.
Women Are Charged More for the Same Products As Men
One of the most unfair things that women have to go through on a day-to-day basis is that while we get paid less than men for the very same work, we also pay more than men for the very same things, like razors, shampoo, and clothing. This mark up for those pink-hued items with fruity scents is known as the Pink Tax.
Toxic Masculinity Harms and Kills
Women just want to be seen as equal and treated as such. But toxic masculinity has harmed us in more ways than one. In the military, women are more likely to be sexually assaulted by fellow male soldiers than killed by the enemy. Two out of three women killed are murdered by their partner or family member. And places where we should be safe — like college — are hunting grounds in which we have to constantly be vigilant.
Women Aren’t Being Represented Fairly in Hollywood
Hollywood also contributes to toxic masculinity. Women still aren’t given leading roles and when they are, they’re often stereotypical or hypersexualized. This is largely due to the fact that there’s still a lack of female writers, producers, and directors behind a lot of mainstream films. But thankfully, we’re seeing a shift in this industry with the addition of several badass females.
Women Aren’t “Already Equal” Thanks to Feminism
While we have made strides in the fight for equality, that doesn’t mean that feminism isn’t necessary. It’s not about being treated better than we were decades ago (although we are grateful for that), but it’s about full equality. The fight doesn’t end until feminism is a norm for both men and women everywhere.
Not All Feminists Are Against Tradition/Family/Motherhood
Being a feminist doesn’t mean you’re against traditional life choices, like becoming a mother. There are plenty of feminists who are mothers or aren’t mothers but are on frontline demanding change for those who are. This includes fighting for paid maternity leave, reproductive rights, daycare, women’s healthcare, and more.
Men Are the Minority, Yet Have the Majority of the Power
In the UK, women make up the majority — 52% of the population. However, they are the minority when it comes to any positions of power. This includes in government, in art galleries, film, newspapers, and business. This is something to point out when someone tells you that women are now allowed to work and should be satisfied with the progress they’ve made.
Women Own Less Than 1% of the World’s Property
There is power and security in owning property and owning land. It’s shocking to learn that women own only 1% of the property in the world. There was a point in recent history, though, where a woman in the U.S. needed her husband’s or male relative’s, signature (and hence approval) to get credit and to open up a bank account. This no doubt affected women’s abilities to own real estate outside of their marriage.
Feminism Isn’t “A Matter of Opinion”
Not everyone is going to agree with you, and yes, everyone is entitled to their opinions. But opinions have absolutely no place in conversations about equality. None. We are all equal, and that means women being equal to men. Hiding ignorance behind “that’s my opinion” shouldn’t be accepted. This is the moment to peacefully school such people on the facts.
Women Aren’t Naturally Worse at Math and Science
Unfair and incorrect stereotypes can keep generations of women from following their dreams and changing the world. Like the lie that women aren’t as adept in fields like STEM as men are. There is no evidence that suggests this. We are so happy to see that there are not only women in STEM, but that they are, in turn, mentoring and inspiring the next generation of girls to follow in their feminist footsteps.
This Isn’t the Time for Male Fragility
No one likes to hear that their privilege and the way they have been living, negatively affects others. Conversations about feminism aren’t the time for male fragility. Or mansplaining. It’s time for men to recognize the facts, make the shift, and become true allies, and true feminists themselves.
Women Work More Hours Than Men
If you factor in motherhood (which is considered a full-time job) and taking care of an entire household, in addition to full-time work, it turns out that women work more hours than men. Equality happens when men take an active role in both the care of their own children and their own household. Especially when so many women work outside the home these days. You’re a team — work together to share the load!
Women Spend More Than Twice As Many Hours Looking After Children Each Week vs Fathers
To drive the point home even harder, you can mention the statistic that women spend twice as many hours as men each week watching their kids. This equates to 8 hours and 33 minutes a day for moms, versus 3 hours and 55 minutes for dads.
62 Million Girls in the World Are Denied an Education
Everyone should have access to proper education. It’s the foundation for a successful life. Yet a staggering 62 million girls are denied this human right. This is a good moment to say that feminism isn’t just about and for American women — it’s for all women. And we fight for equality everyday for each and every woman on earth.
We Are Fighting for the Same Things Automatically Given to Men
You should always have solid examples ready when it comes to schooling someone on any topic. Feminism doesn’t seem so radical when you realize some of the basic everyday rights and opportunities we are asking for. Like being represented fairly in the art world (and not just as the subject of paintings). In 1985, only one woman had a one-woman exhibit in New York.
There Are Only 11 Female Heads of State and 12 Heads of Government
Leaders of government should reflect the people. And if about 50% of the world is made up of women, then shouldn’t that mean there should be way more than 11 female heads of state and 12 heads of government? Thankfully, we are electing more women into office, but this is only the start.