Feminism is often misunderstood in the media, and feminist ideas are disregarded as mere complaining. Feminism is about much more than just making pay equal between genders.
Here are twenty-two things feminists wish people wish were more well understood.
Many thanks to the Redditor who posed this question. You can check out ore answers from the source at the end of this article!
1/22. Representation of women in TV and films.
If an alien was watching earth TV they might conclude that most humans are male, and women die young and don't talk much.
The role models people see in the media affect their career and life choices. I don't expect the media to transform society but it could stand to reflect it more often.
2/22. Personally, I feel as though the way doctors sometimes treat women is quite unreasonable and, often, overlooked. I have suffered from progressively more painful menstrual cramps for years. I started to have other physical symptoms that suggested there was something wrong with me, so I went to a doctor. Upon doing such, I was told I could not be in as much pain as I said I was. Then that it sounded as though I had PCOS, but that he would not do the necessary test (an ultrasound) to confirm that diagnosis without putting me on birth control first to see if the problem would fix itself (it did not and now I can't afford to go to a doctor).
Women deserve to be treated as though their feelings about their health are reasonable. I have heard this kind of story from many people I know who were eventually diagnosed with things like PCOS and endometriosis after years of fighting with doctors to actually do something.
3/22. Stroke and ADHD awareness. The symptoms women get from these things are different from the ones men have, but the male symptoms are generally in textbooks.
It's getting better, but a lot of women were misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all
4/22. A lot of feminist concepts come out of academia and would be best understood as lenses for analyzing culture and interrogating our own assumptions. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to have trouble grasping the idea that you can criticize or encourage something without saying "there oughta be a law!"
Criticism of books, TV, etc. doesn't mean that nobody is allowed to enjoy that thing ever. It means that we might be able to learn something about our society by taking a close look at those things...
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When feminists talk about small inequalities-- i.e. whether or not women artists are included in galleries, or the terms people use to address each other during small daily interactions, we don't mean that those small things are the biggest deal ever or that they're more important than other issues. Instead, we're encouraging people to examine the biases that might be present in mundane aspects of daily life. This is what's meant by the phrase "the personal is political."
The rhetoric of privilege isn't about somehow ranking and segregating people. It's asking everyone to consider how their experiences in life are shaped by identity. If you are saying something like "sexual harrassment isn't real, I've never seen it," someone who mentions your privilege is saying "do you think the circumstances of your life might have kept you from seeing the events that I see?"
Basically, the message of feminism is often "have you considered that there's another way of looking at this?" This is especially true when you see feminist critiques of culture, the arts, or historiography. Instead of interpreting these critiques as negative and attacking, think how much more interesting life is when we take care to notice complexities and alternative interpretations!
5/22. Girls get taught at a young age that their looks and appearance matter most. Boys get taught at a young age that people care about what they think and what they do.
My daughter is 6, my son is 3. When people see my daughter, it's always "wow don't you look beautiful" or "my, aren't you pretty".
When people see my son, they ask him "who's your favorite football player?" or "you like firetrucks- are you going to be a fireman?"
This is done by men and women alike.
6/22. Street harassment.
I know a lot of guys like to brush it off as unimportant, or women being over dramatic, or too sensitive, or just being unable to take a compliment, but it's a massive issue that starts at a horrifically young age.
And it's not normally "Hey, you look beautiful today!" kind of compliments. No woman would be bothered by that. And if that's all street harassment was, I doubt we'd even have the term "street harassment". But just a few days ago, a man pulled out his penis, grinned at me, and said "Look at that redheaded pussy!" (I am a redhead). He continued with "I've had five redheaded pussy in my life but I ain't never had no black pussy" and grinned as if this was something to be proud of.
And that is what street harassment normally is. Things like that are the norm. If it's not a man pulling out his penis, then it's a man shouting at you, a man following you down the street, a group shouting at you from the car. Can you see why this is a big deal to us?
7/22. I've read a lot of women saying how they are treated when they decide they don't want children. Even when you DO have them the double standards don't stop.
My husband is an amazing father...
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He's an amazing person in general. But, all he has to do is the bare minimum to be praised by others. We both work full time, we both have times when we stay with the kids. When he goes to the park, or takes them out? "What a wonderful daddy you are spending time with your girls!" "You don't mind babysitting?" (Is it babysitting if it's yours, really?) Pictures posted on Facebook of their time together, "How sweet!" "That's an awesome daddy right there." Me? "Isn't she too young to be forward facing?" "Enjoy your time with them instead of being on the phone while they're playing sweetie." "I saw that you ordered chocolate milk, don't you think white would be better?" "Hope you got home in time to fix him his dinner and get those kids to bed!"
No matter how I parent as the mother I will never be good enough. Too involved, not involved enough... always something. It's unfair to fathers also, he's not just here for playtime he's a vital part of our children's lives.
8/22. Toxic masculinity - Basically it's all that stuff like: oh men don't get raped, real mean don't cry, men can't be domestic violence victims, men don't show their feelings, men just want sex, men can't be good parents etc.
It's the reason you'll see fathers assumed to be less capable than mothers, it's young guys killing themselves because they don't feel they can talk to anyone, it's issues with relationships because of assumptions on both sides.
Feminism's about making things better for women and men by killing off crap like this for everyone.
9/22. Desire to have or not to have kids. I'm child free and am CONSTANTLY told I'll change my mind or that it's weird, I'm a bad person, I'll meet the right man to change my mind... even a really close friend says I have to have kids to grow up.
I'm trying to get sterilized but that's a long process since as a woman I obviously don't know my own desires. It's always a question of are you in a relationship, what does he think. Like I can't decide on my own. What also sucks is part of the reason is due to medical history, and my best friend jumps in to stop bingos by telling them "it's a medical reason". And it drives me crazy that's even a thing! Like no, if I don't want kids. No one should defend me. It's a matter of as a woman, you can't know what you want and as you age hormones will take over and you'll realize you're only good for your womb. It takes away my ability to make decisions, like a total stranger knows better than me what I want. It's very frustrating. I am not an incubator.
10/22. Women's clothes have little to no pockets so we continue to buy more purses.
Why do my jeans have fake front pockets?? Why do I have to carry this purse just to carry my wallet and phone and keys?
11/22. The existence of "rape culture", and its impact on society (on everyone, not just on women).
People hear the term and assume it means something trivial and false like "rapists always get away with it" or "all men are rapists" or something like that, when in fact it is a lot more subtle and complicated.
Rape Culture is basically a set of interrelated cultural beliefs that encourage (primarily) male sexual aggression in a variety of ways, and support violence against (primarily) women.
Continue this article on the next page!
12/22. Being told as a woman in a same-sex relationship that it's sexy to you (a man), or that you want to "join", or thinking that all women in same-sex relationships are interested in a threesome.
Men seem to think it's a compliment that I'm a "hot lesbian" who they would like to have sex with in addition to another woman, but honestly my girlfriend and I are just trying to drink a beer AT A GAY BAR dude, and you're not invited to the afterparty. I've never heard of a straight woman telling a gay male couple that obviously they want to double team her.
13/22. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had just finished college and had my first internship (part time while I still worked a full time regular job) that could have turned into a full time job in that field.
It did't though, because that was 2007 and my pregnancy would have been considered a "pre existing condition" under my could be new employer's health insurance. Unless I could pay tens of thousands to birth that child, I had to stay with my current employer. It still makes me angry how that affected the trajectory of my career.
14/22. Taxes on female hygiene items.
15/22. Safe spaces are just clubs where people that have a lot in common can feel safe talking to each other and venting.
It's not that big of a deal.
16/22. First, being conditioned to think "boys will be boys" and to not go overboard when you're harassed by a guy. Also, victim blaming.
When I was 16 years old I went to pick up one of my male friends to go to a basketball game. When he answered the door he told me to come in and wait for a minute while he finished getting ready. He, a football player and much larger than I, emerged from the back of the house high as a fucking kite and scared me into sex. He never hit me, but he held me down and showed that he was stronger and could take it if he wanted it, and so I had sex with him.
When I reported it to the police the detective encouraged me to not press charges because the judge would eat me alive for going in his house when his parents weren't home. It wasn't violent, after all. And he's a teenager boy with sex on the brain. Come to find out that he had raped another in the same manner a year earlier, and she was also encouraged to not press charges. It was apparently our fault for being "promiscuous" and going to his house...
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The next would be being seen as weaker or less impressive. I played soccer in high school. I was a goalkeeper. I broke every single goalkeeping record at my school (I broke most shutouts in a season and most saves in a season as a sophomore). I was selected to be on the state's all-star team, which was made up of the best players in the state. I was in the top 2 goalkeepers in the state. I had multiple scholarship offers. But when the goalkeeper for the boy's soccer team went to a summer soccer camp at a prestigious school, he got a whole big article written about him in the local paper. He had no scholarship offers, no records, and a losing season.
17/22. Workplace gender equality.
I'm a full time Ergonomic Specialist for a large, multi-site manufacturing company (female, 25). There is another full time site ES at another facility (male, 40s). There is a part time ES (3 days a week) at their 3rd manufacturing facility (male, 50s). There is a very part time ES (40 hrs/month) at their 4th facility (male, 50s).
During a company-wide Health and Safety meeting, (where all sites and the health and safety leadership team come together to discuss safety standards, metrics, etc.) a new metric was being proposed for the ergonomics program. A metric I had been introduced to previously and would have a strong effect on how I do my job.
The Corporate Safety Manager presented the metric, and at the end of the presentation asked for input from the ergonomic specialists by name, all 3 of them.
There are four of us.
I was not acknowledged.
The other three were.
Mind you, I had, not 45 minutes before, presented a lengthy ergonomics update. Along with just one of the other specialists.
The CSM and I had met numerous times and I had presented to the team on multiple occasions. But he chose not to include me when asking for input on this metric.
Now, usually, I let these things slide. Usually I don't speak up for the fact that when I am standing next to my male coworker (not an ergo expert) and telling another employee about ergonomic standards, that employee looks to my male coworker for confirmation of what I'm saying.
Nor do I speak up when I have an employee tell me they agree to disagree with my analysis and then agree with my boss (male) when he gives them the same information.
And I also let it slide when I'm making a point during a meeting and get interrupted by my male coworkers.
18/22. Trigger warnings. There are some very real consequences to people with certain mental issues that trigger warnings can avoid. Severe PTSD, for example, can be triggered and lead to pretty intense mental and physical responses. Someone who was violently raped might take great care to avoid talking about it outside of well-structured environments (therapists office or whatever) and they would appreciate the option to remove themselves from the conversation.
I agree that the phrase "trigger warning" has become diluted in public discourse and now often serves as a code for "this might hurt your feelings." That use is not appropriate as far as I am concerned.
19/22. One thing I've been picking up on a lot lately is how often I'm interrupted when I speak. In meetings, men tend to be able to say what they please with few interruptions. As soon as I take my turn, I'm almost immediately talked over. I'm a very assertive person, and so it's surprising to me how much it really throws me off when it happens.
It's something that most people don't even realize they're doing. I don't think I've encountered anyone who does this maliciously. They just do it. I would recommend that everyone try and pay attention to this happening.
20/22. I think a lot of people don't realize that feminism isn't just about women, it's about the historical oppression of femininity. Of course, that typically manifests itself in women...
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But when it does in men, even nowadays, it's often not tolerated well.
That's why it's ok for a woman to wear "men's" clothing, but a man in women's clothing is frowned upon typically. Masculinity is "strong", "intelligent", and capable. Femininity is "weak", "stupid", and "insignificant". Most gender issues can be linked back to that idea.
A lot of people don't take is seriously because the either think it's: A) not a big deal, or B) it's a compliment.
But truthfully, it's rude and demeaning and is a form of harassment. Worse is that young children who hear it believe it to be the norm; leaving young girls to believe that their bodies are not their own and that their sole purpose is to be admired by the male gaze, and young boys don't understand that what they're doing is disrespectful.
22/22. Letters of recommendation (for, say, STEM fields). In my experience on hiring committees (math dept, research university) letters written for women tend to focus on their hard work and dedication, while letters for men tend to focus on how brilliant and impressive they are. It gives the impression that men are naturally talented whereas women must work to overcome their handicap. In my own experience meeting strangers in and outside of mathematics, people immediately ask me about my teaching but ask my husband about his research (we are both math professors).