What myths about feminism do you want debunked?

While I’m thinking about it, what myths about feminism would you like to see debunked on the Feminism 101 site?

I’ve already tackled the bra-burning myth, and the all feminists are hairy-legged myth; in the works is tackling the subject of feminism and lesbianism, as well as the “all sex is rape” claim that wasn’t actually made by MacKinnon or Dworkin.

So are there any other myths (half-truths work too) that you’d like to see me take on? Bonus points if you give me some links as a starting point :)

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By tekanji on February 9, 2008 · Posted in Feminism

8 Comments | Post Comment

Kimiko says:

I was going to suggest “feminism isn’t needed anymore because women have the same rights as men now”, but I see you already have that covered.

Posted on February 10th, 2008

Zach S. says:

The myth I’d most like to see debunked right now is the idea that anything anti-man must be feminism.

What’s annoyed me more than anything else in the recent debate over the Kay Hymowitz article on man-children who play video games is the persistent idea that, because Hymowitz is critical of some men, it follows that Hymowitz must be a feminist and is attacking video game culture from a feminist perspective. For example, this message board quotation by user Catherine G. was highlighted in a front page article on 1up.com:

Is it just me, or does all the feminist crap being spouted in both of these feel completely trite? These two are basically sitting here blaming men for the fact that millions of 30-something women are sitting alone, waiting for the fun-having non-committers to call and, eventually, knock them up. Is it just me? Or does that put feminism back a good 40 years or so?

It’s not just Catherine G.! It is counter to feminism! What I found incredibly irksome here is that the writer has made all the logical links to conclude that this article is anti-feminist, but then can’t override the ingrained law that “if it’s critical of men, or any group of men, it must be feminism.”

I get into similar arguments with people who insist that sitcoms and other media portrayals of incompetent, goofball husbands with stern, no-nonsense wives (often housewives) are a product of feminism. If a man is portrayed in an unflattering light, there must be a feminist behind it! Which leads to arguments of the form “Sitcom Husband is incompetent, while Sitcom Wife is capable. Ergo, Sitcom is written by feminists and is a feminist document. In Sitcom, Sitcom Wife is a housewife. Ergo, feminism is trying to put women back into the home. How low feminism has fallen!”

The point of this isn’t to shift the focus onto men. This isn’t a “but what about the men!?” complaint. A lot of feminism is critical of men, and the criticism is justified, and that’s perfectly fine. But that’s a separate issue. The issue here is that the “anti-man implies feminist” link allows a lot of non-feminists and anti-feminists to wear the feminist mantle and be treated as though they speak for feminism.

And while I’m on the subject of speaking for feminism, another myth I’d like to see debunked is the idea of collective responsibility by all feminists for all statements by feminists. For example, “A feminist said [or is widely believed to have said] that all sex is rape, therefore you, as a feminist, must think all sex is rape. How do you defend yourself?” or, from a different perspective, “A feminist said that women participating in pornography is a form of sexual empowerment, therefore all feminists think that participation in pornography is empowering. Yet look at all these negative aspects of pornography! How can you and all the rest of the feminist movement support it?”

I think it comes from the idea that feminism is a monolithic movement with hard-and-fast doctrines that everyone adheres to. The characterization is understandable; if you’re not participating in a movement/organization, it’s very easy to miss distinctions in belief and doctrine within the movement.

At the same time, it’s painfully annoying for feminists arguing with non-feminists to deal with these issues in a tactful way. When you’re arguing position X, and someone replies, “Ah-ha! But some feminist said Not X! How do you explain the contradiction?” you want to make clear that that other feminist doesn’t speak for you, but at the same time you don’t want to belittle and diminish that other feminist’s place within the movement by saying “well, that’s just wrong,” or “that’s not what feminists think,” or “well, to the extent that feminists say that, I’m not feminist.” If you try a more sophisticated explanation, like “well, some feminists believe Not X, for these reasons, but here’s why I disagree with them, for these reasons, and it’s an ongoing debate within feminism,” they’re apt to either decide that you (or the monolithic feminist movement) is trying to have it both ways or they’ll decide that your position is too long and nuanced and boring and won’t read it or try to understand the point.

Oh, this is quite long now. I guess those are the two issues that most irritate me at the moment.

(side note: I seem to be having trouble turning that link before the quotation into an actual link. What gives?)

Posted on February 10th, 2008

Some Guy says:

I am intentionally single and virgin. Does this benefit the feminist movement somehow, by having no girlfriend or wife, and having minimum/moderate interaction with the female population?

Would it be good if more men were single and/or virgin? I get the feeling that feminism wants men to stay single and virgins, though not necessarily condemning men who do have sex and wives/girlfriends.

I am straight, but to help the feminist movement, I generally avoid asking for dates, or flirting, or otherwise making any attempt to forge a heterosexual relationship. It is a little sad, knowing I may never experience intimacy with a woman, but I realize it is for a good cause. For some reason, the thought that I could possibly have a relationship with a woman keeps coming back, but I keep reminding myself, this is 2008 not 1958!

I know that women’s lives have been made miserable by men’s heterosexuality, and I don’t want to add to the problem. I’m aware it’s theoretically possible to have a feminist-compatible heterosexual relationship, but the chances are very slim, so it might be better to avoid the risk.

I could go a step further if necessary, trying to keep interaction with women to near zero levels. If this will help women/feminism, I might just go for it, if that’s what it takes to benefit women.

Posted on February 10th, 2008

Anna says:

“Feminism wants to overthrow the patriarchy and replace it with a matriarchy.” (My friend keeps putting “benevolent” before Matriarchy.)

Posted on February 13th, 2008

Some Guy says:

Aren’t feminists intrinsically forced to be happy about whatever’s good for women?

Like if I had a company, and I paid men $10/hour and women $15/hour for the same job, even though that’s not equal, doesn’t it make it impossible for feminists to complain about it since women are getting more money?

What if I were a politician and I made these campaign promises:

- Women’s Benefit Package, all women would get $1000 per year of free government money regardless of their socio-economic status (and in addition to what they may already be getting from the government).
- Free tampons
- Free University and College for women
- Women don’t need to pay taxes anymore, she gets to keep 100% of her paycheck, and she only pays the price tag in stores
- Set Radio and TV Quotas (50% of all songs on radio must be female artists, 50% of all TV shows must have at least one woman present).
- Female-owned companies would be exempt from minimum wage laws, they can hire cheap workers, and sell their products cheaper, giving them a competitive edge over those patriarchial big corporations.
- Free medicine/health care for women

Wouldn’t feminists be somewhat forced to vote for me?

Posted on February 16th, 2008

weedivine says:

nope. because feminism is about equality darling, not about creating another oppressive power structure to replace the one we have now.

Posted on February 18th, 2008

Some Guy says:

Do feminists consider pro-feminist males to be useful idiots?

Posted on February 24th, 2008

Nia says:

I don’t know if this is too specific of my country, but my myth is: “One proof that feminism is no longer necessary / women are the privileged ones, not men / women are perfectly able to defend themselves is that they always get child custody in a divorce.” or in short, “divorce benefits mothers unfairly”.

It is easy to say that sustainers of that myth conveniently forget that most divorced women are poor. What I care about is the child-custody issue.

Posted on March 19th, 2008