Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.
By reading the title, you might think I’m about to say something negative about feminism, right? Well, if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ll need to look somewhere else. Today, my goal is to identify the most common misconceptions about feminism and put an end to them. What are the most common misconceptions, you might ask? Let’s take a look.
The first misconception is that feminists desire superiority over men. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, feminism is defined as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” It made no mention of dominance or inferiority of one gender over another.
That’s not to say that feminists haven’t gone too far, because some certainly have. Take last summer’s movie Maleficent, for example. When I watched it in the theaters, I mentally divided the main characters into these four categories:
A: Female Independents
–Includes Maleficent and Princess Aurora
B: Female Submissives
–Includes the three good fairies
C: Male Independents
–Includes King Stephan
D: Male Submissives
–Includes the crow
If you’ve seen the movie, you might find that each of these characters are portrayed differently based on the category. Looking at the female characters, Maleficent and Aurora—the Female Independents—are portrayed as stronger characters than the Female Submissives. Maleficent is powerful and vengeful, but still has a soft spot under the rough exterior. Aurora is curious, positive, and determined. When she wants something done, she’ll do it herself. On the other hand, the three good fairies—the Female Submissives—are annoying, unrealistically stupid, and a little freaky looking (I don’t know if that was intentional, but do you see what I’m getting at?). With that mindset, the movie implies that Female Independents are far more interesting and likeable than Female Submissives.
Now, if the film said the same thing about Male Independents and Male Submissives, I wouldn’t mind as much. Unfortunately, it implied the exact opposite. King Stephen—the Male Independent—is unrealistically cruel, paranoid, and backstabbing, while the crow—the Male Submissive—is smart, level-headed, cocky to the point where it’s hilarious but not annoying, and a good sidekick for Maleficent to have. This results in the suggestion that it’s better to be a Male Submissive and not a Male Independent, which in turn suggests that women ought to be superior to men.
Am I reading too much into this? Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. I don’t know how the director views feminism and gender equality. But either way, the result proves that some people have crossed the line whether they meant to or not.
The second misconception is that feminism is unnecessary because the genders are already equal. If that’s what you believe, then I hate to break it to you, but it’s not true. Things have definitely gotten better for women since fifty years ago, I won’t deny it. Be that as it may, www.discovery.com listed ten examples of national and international gender inequality (http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/examples-gender-inequality-around-world.htm) , and here’s a summary of them. In most workplaces, women don’t earn as much as men for the same quantity and quality of work. In some countries, many parents either kill their newborn daughters or put them in orphanages because they’re not boys. And also in some countries, girls either can’t or don’t get the education that everyone needs. And some of the few that do go to school can’t finish it.
While men don’t face these exact problems, they’re also victims of gender inequality. I’ve already given an example of feminism gone wrong, but that’s not the only bad experience for a man. When a woman faces abuse from a man, most people sympathize with her. But when a man faces abuse from a woman, society implies that he’s either too submissive or too weak to be considered a man. If he’s experiencing emotional problems, he can’t talk to anyone about it because that’s also a reason for society to tell him he’s not enough of a man. Just a week ago, when Emma Watson spoke at the United Nations vying for gender equality (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YQPLepzCYU) , she mentioned that suicide is the primary cause of death for young men in England.
At the end of the day, all I have to say is this: before you assume anything, do your research. Think about what you want for your children, regardless of their gender, and see if society is willing to give them that much. And if the United Nations wants to talk about it, maybe there’s something to be said about continuing to fight for gender equality.
Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”
Photo source: http://www.chicagonow.com/nails-on-a-chalkboard/2014/05/5-reasons-to-teach-feminism-in-high-school/