Women have largely been at the forefront of sociopolitical change, and for good reason. The stigmatization of women in regard to something as blatantly wrong as sexual misconduct on the part of another individual is morally, ethically, and socially unsound.
The fact that 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime is a very real, very scary statistic. But it’s only one of countless provided by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, which shows a patriarchal culture that would rather blame the victim than attempt to implement any real legal change. Women are often told “how the world works” by men, such as former Missouri Congressman, Todd Akin.
Unfortunately, women of this generation are listening to those same individuals.
A recent poll conducted by CBS News and Refinery29 found that approximately 54 percent of millennial women are put off by the term feminist. Dr. Katherine Twamley, a lecturer of sociology at University College London, says that although feminism is defined as equality, many people tend to “affiliate the term feminist with ‘man-hating’.”
This misunderstanding is likely to have come about through legitimate social groups such as the Honey Badger Brigade or farcical ones like the so-called ‘meninist movement,’ conflating the ideas of feminism with the rhetoric of misandry.
The disdain towards the word comes from both sides of the aisle. Pundits, such as Australian Sydney Watson, decry the movement to their contemporaries as a toxic means of living. Women, according to these pundits, are better off than at any point in history and are simply manipulating the system to take away rights from men.
On the left, progressive celebrities such as Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry have tried to distance themselves from the term ‘feminist’ and have opted for the title ‘humanist.’ While not necessarily a bad thing, this ostracizes people who wish to be feminists but see their idols avoiding the term due to its perceived toxicity.
But the issue may be a target of feminist views, such as cultural pressure for women to be seen and not heard in most social situations or simply being part of a minority and the inherent difficulties of such.
Women have been regularly reminded of their position in the world from birth, so attempting to step outside of that bubble can be a daunting task. By simply cheering from the sidelines and not taking on the title of feminist, women can be supportive while not creating potential divides between themselves and family or spouses.
Such a mindset is worrisome at best. Ultimately, it’s up to an individual to choose her own path. As Sarah Boesveld wrote for Chatelaine, “You can actively help make room for other people to speak up too and you can listen to them and help elevate their voices.”
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