Why do so many hate the term feminism

I believe there are five critical reasons behind this:

1.  Feminism has been associated with strong, forceful and angry women, and our society continues to punishes forceful women.  (So much recent data and research has proved this.)

2. Many people fear that feminism will mean that men will eventually lose out – of power, influence, impact, authority, and control, and economic opportunities.

3. Many people believe that feminists want to control the world and put men down.

4. Many people fear that feminism will overturn time-honored traditions, religious beliefs and established gender roles, and that feels scary and wrong.

5. Many people fear that feminism will bring about negative shifts in relationships, marriage, society, culture, power and authority dynamics, and in business, job and economic opportunities if and when women are on an equal footing with men.

What about sexuality – what does that have to do with feminism?

In reading about the media uproar over Emma Watson’s baring a bit of her breasts in Vanity Fair this month, we see that women are fighting among themselves about what feminism is and how women should behave if they’re true feminists. Emma (and Gloria Steinem) make a powerful point – feminism at its core is about choice.  Feminists can wear whatever they want. If we cannot choose freely how to behave, speak, act and present ourselves, then we’re moving backwards.

Unconscious gender bias.

In my friend Kristen Pressner’s powerful TEDx talk “Are You Biased? I Am” she shares how her own unconscious bias against working women (in fact, against women who were just like her) was affecting her ability to treat men and women equally. Her brave revelation paves the way for all of us to think more deeply about our unconscious biases, and work tirelessly to bring these biases to light. Her suggested strategy of “flip it to test it” is an effective tool to help us do just that.

In the end, we all must honor the beliefs, values, and ideals that feel right and good to us. To help us do that, I’d ask you to think about these final questions:

• Do your beliefs and behaviors support equality for all, or just for some?

• Could there be hidden biases that color how you experience people of different genders, race, color, religion, etc? Could your personal experiences be tainting how you’re looking at the whole world?

• If you believe in equality for women, but not in feminism, can you articulate why?

• If you believe in equality for all, are you able to take a brave stand for it, in a way that feels right to you, in your own life and in your own sphere of influence?

#influence

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