There are many myths and misconceptions about feminism. This information was taken from CARE and Sista’s ‘Wanem Hemi Feminism’ workshop through the Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP).

MYTH: Feminists hate men

FACT: This is the biggest myth. Feminists stand against the sexism and oppression that society conditions us to perpetuate. That means both men AND women are raised to be prejudiced against women and limit what is possible for women to achieve. The point is to eradicate the sexist and oppressive thinking and action in both men and women – not eradicate men. Giving freedom and rights to women doesn’t take away those of men. This isn’t a zero-sum game where there has to be a winner and a loser. In fact, with feminism, we all win.

MYTH: Feminists just can’t get a husband, or just hate marriage

FACT: Many feminists are married, or want to be married. Feminists know that marriage can be a wonderful source of love and mutual support. Some feminists prefer to choose to remain unmarried, for many different reasons. Feminists believe it is important that women are able to choose if they want to get married or have a partner.

MYTH: Feminists are all ugly, they don’t wear makeup or skirts

FACT: Feminism is a diverse movement, all over the world. Some feminists choose to reject patriarchal norms about what women “should” look like, and others choose to wear what makes them feel happy. Feminists are concerned about whether or not women feel pressured to look a certain “acceptable” way

MYTH: Feminists are lesbians

FACT: and work with all kinds of people who are fighting for equality and recognize the humanity in all people. This is an example of people using homophobia to scare women into thinking feminism isn’t for them.

MYTH: Feminists are promiscuous

FACT: Feminists respect women’s right to choose what they do with their bodies. If a woman chooses to engage in consensual sex, that is her business alone. Feminism recognises that slut-shaming (criticising women for their perceived sexual behaviour or appearance) is a patriarchal tool used to shame and control women. 

MYTH: Feminism is only for Western or white people

FACT: There are women who identify as feminists from all around the world, in every country and culture. They use feminism to help dismantle sexist AND racist structures (both outside and inside the feminist movement). Many However, it’s true that a lot of feminist history is focused on Western or European contexts, and that people who have call themselves feminists are or have been racist and worked against people of colour. Modern feminism recognises that race intersects with sexism to (doubly) oppress women of colour, and wants to end this and all other kinds of oppression. Feminism is anti-racist.

MYTH: You can’t be religious and be a feminist

You can definitely be a feminist and be religious. Many religions teach similar values to feminism – for example treating everyone equally and not judging others. Grace Molisa was a feminist and good Christian. While feminism recognises that religious institutions are also subject to the patriarchy, like all other institutions in our society, many feminisms are able to reconcile their religious beliefs and practices with feminism.

MYTH: Only women can be feminists

Anyone committed to ending sexism and oppression can be a feminist, including men. Just as white people can stand against racism, men can stand against sexism. To stop sexism, we must help men identify and let go of their sexist thinking and action. Feminism also supports men in freeing themselves from the limits of traditional male roles and conforming to the patriarchal definition of masculinity. Male feminists are encouraged and supported to break free from traditional roles and discover what gives them a happy, meaningful life.

MYTH: Feminism only cares about women

FACT: While feminism began focused more solely on issues related to being a women, women do not experience their lives as merely women but also as women of different races, classes, sexual orientation, and other groupings.  There was a backlash within the feminism movement who felt it overly represented issues of white, upper class women. This led to feminism expanding its focus to understanding how all these groupings of different power and privilege intersect to shape the everyday lives of women. Now, feminism is about liberation for everyone.

MYTH: Feminists are angry and irrational people

Let’s look at some of the issues that feminists get angry about, like domestic violence, or sexual violence against women. This is why feminists sometimes seem angry but we certainly are not irrational in why we’re angry. If we need to say it loudly and risk looking “angry” and “unladylike” in order to stand up for women, men, and children who are being abused, we will.

MYTH: There’s no sexism so feminists aren’t needed anymore

don’t know what to do when they find out their girlfriend is a rape survivor or has experienced sexual violence. If sexism was dead and feminism wasn’t needed, then these things would not be happening. But they are. We all need feminism.

MYTH: Feminists can’t take a joke!

We think we’re pretty funny actually. We just don’t make jokes aimed at hurting, demeaning, or belittling other people. We don’t stay quiet when someone makes a joke at the expense of a certain gender, race, class, or sexual orientation or if they use stereotypes that encourage prejudice. 

MYTH: Feminism is useless and doesn’t make change

If feminists were useless then, women wouldn’t be able to be freely reading this right now. Thanks to feminists in the past, women can attend school, vote, and hold political positions. There are a so many things that we take for granted every day that we have earlier feminists to thank for. We hope to continue making positive changes for women and men, so that the world will be a more equal and safe place for everyone!