3 Things Women Get Wrong About Feminism

By on April 2, 2014
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By Meg Baatz –

Feminism means different things to different people. Many of us don’t really think about what it means, where we’ve come from, what we’ve overcome — or even what goal we’re working toward.

I don’t have the authority to just tell you what feminism is all about. It’s far bigger than me. But I’d like to talk about five things I’m convinced we have gotten wrong about feminism.

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1. Feminism is pro-men.

Confession: I’ve never been a man before. But I bet it gets pretty challenging sometimes.

Historically, men have had more freedoms than women. But I’m wondering if any men in our society are slipping through the cracks in the wake of feminism. Many problems and addictions men deal with are ways of coping with past injustice, such as physical, psychological, or sexual abuse. They may even be facing everyday challenges and simply don’t know where to turn. But for men, it’s often not even socially acceptable to seek help. It’s not “masculine” to admit you’re feeling scared, depressed, lost, or unappreciated.

We’ve done an exceptional job supporting each other when female friends and family members are struggling. But how can we do a better job at encouraging men, affirming them, and being on their side? This is the question I believe society is begging feminists to answer.

Instead of being disillusioned with imprudent men, let’s cherish and lift up the ones who exhibit qualities we wish to see in all men. Know a guy who loves his family but is insecure? Tell him how much he stands out among the rest, simply because he cares. Know a man who looks to you for a lot of his needs? Don’t wear yourself out becoming an enabler — but don’t just kick him to the curb. If you can, help him find a strong support system of other men who can empower him. Isn’t this how we strive to treat women as well?

Because, after all, feminism is the radical idea that women are people. And men are people, too. We all need encouragement to live up to the standards set before us and not give up.

2. At the heart of feminist is just that: a heart.

This is the most overlooked part of us. We focus on our style, appearance, productivity, success. Our reputation among friends. Holding our family together. Even just staying sane. But who are we beyond these responsibilities and facades?

Don’t get me wrong — being a woman doesn’t mean dropping all these things and just not caring. But when we lose track of who we are beyond the things we DO, it’s a problem.

Too often, when I’m mad, stressed, or disappointed, I’ll cope by distracting myself and making myself busy. Or I’ll feel down on myself about my weight, so I’ll prescribe myself a crazy diet and exercise regimen until I’m “acceptable” again.

But what would happen if my job, intelligence, weight, or other circumstantial “identities” were taken away? For example, what if I was in a car accident and got a brain injury? What if I lost my intelligence, my appearance, and everything I’ve worked so hard for? Would I still be me? Would I be worthy of love?

At the heart of you is not your job, your kids, or your pant size. What if, instead of making yourself acceptable from the outside — and still feeling unacceptable on the inside — you could accept yourself no matter what, letting that unconditional love permeate outward?

3. Equality is important, but it isn’t everything.

There’s more to equality than cutting the grass evenly. A society where everyone is poor and oppressed is chock-full of equality. A society where everyone is rich and successful, but no one feels loved, is also full of equality. But neither of these exemplifies what we’re trying to accomplish in society as feminists.

Equality doesn’t mean much apart from diversity. We don’t want to be as pretty as other women, nor to be just like men in the workplace. We want to be appreciated for our uniqueness.

Equality also doesn’t mean much apart from dignity.  A snowflake is beautiful and diverse, but it melts and no one cares. With news of so many shootings, natural disasters, and wars in our world, we tend to become numb to suffering. Why is a school shooting with one death less “newsworthy” than a shooting with two dozen deaths? Doesn’t every human life matter?

We may never have a society on earth in which people are loved as much as they deserve. But in seeking a better society, let’s start with the people whose lives we touch every day, reminding them how amazing they are, and sincerely believing their hearts are beautiful.

And that includes your own.

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3 Things Women Get Wrong About Feminism