If the internet has taught me one thing, it’s that feminism is bad.
Okay, maybe not entirely bad. Depending on which corner of the internet you pass through, feminism is either loved or hated. Unfortunately, the negative connotations of the word “feminist” seem to outweigh any positive presence it has on the internet. On any given social media, you’ll find anti-feminist arguments and even posts berating individual women for bearing the label. These bashings range from relatively tame to vulgar. They make me pause and ask myself: why? How has a movement, one so inherently innocent, created such fierce opposition?
To be honest, I can’t be too sure. Some believe it is deserved opposition, a by-product that occurs when groups of people try to break down social norms. Others believe that in our current era, feminism is unnecessary and its presence attracts animosity. I personally stand against both of those ideas. Feminism continues to be a crucial and necessary movement, both in the United States and internationally. Furthermore, I believe that anti-feminist views stem from distorted perceptions of feminism perpetuated online and by certain media outlets.
For many groups, there is a distinct image that comes to mind when they hear the word feminist: an angry, antagonistic woman who abhors all men. The rise of social media has given these more extreme feminists a widespread platform upon which to voice their opinions. Of course, I believe they have every right to exercise their freedom and share their views just as anyone else would. However with their often controversial tactics of activism, they have provoked resentment and anger from those outside of the movement. The censorship-free nature of the internet has lent itself to equally ugly counter-attacks from anti-feminists toward feminist groups. This cycle has led to a publicly conceived notion that all feminists are misandrists. In all capacities, that idea is simply untrue.
This is where the misperceptions come in. Imagine someone in the U.S. with a viewpoint that feminists are all man-haters stumbles upon an article promoting women’s rights in a country with an oppressive regime. They apply their America-centric, anti-feminist logic in a convoluted way to the plight of this country’s women. They disregard the matter of the issue entirely, whether it be anti-acid attack legislation or something as simple as women’s education. They do not care to learn more about or even give any thought to these women. The cycle of ignorance and anti-feminism revolves onward.
On the internet and in mainstream media alike, there must be a change in the discourse surrounding feminism. No longer should there be a battle between the two extremes of misandrists and misogynists. Instead, the conversations should expand and be inclusive as a step toward educating others on women’s rights issues and their significance. As a society, it is important to not paint all feminists with a negative label due to the actions of a small subset of activists. It is even more important to work toward coming together, as feminists and non-feminists alike, to acknowledge the greater state of the world.
We live in a world still plagued by women’s rights abuses, one where tens of millions of girls remain uneducated, where sex trafficking is alive and well and where gender-based discrimination runs rampant. Just because many of these situations have grown better in the U.S. does not mean we can overlook the entire international women’s rights movement. Feminism on a large scale is not something to be discredited as “bad” or “unnecessary.” It is the exact opposite: it is crucial to our progress as a global society.