All Feminists are Not Haters

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Striving for equality between the sexes
Ladies, we deserve to have equal rights and opportunities to men. Photo via Pexels.

So here’s the thing. We, feminists, get a bad rap sometimes.

Last weekend I attended an art show with family and my bf. We were having a great time, looking at pieces of art and photographs. A local jazz band was playing in one part of the building and there were appetizers laid out on tables (I sampled!). Then the music went quiet, and the event’s coordinator announced a slam poetry reading. Well, yes, I love poetry, and this got me excited. Live readings! The first two poems were from teen females.

The “F” word was spoken, as were a few other cuss words, in these poems. One poem was about the menstrual cycle, and both were spoken in angry voices, with a focus on how women are treated (on personal, community and more general levels). Many people looked uncomfortable at the language and the harsh tones of the voices behind the microphones, which were at odds with the calm environment of the rest of the event. A few people – men and women – said they found it highly shocking to hear, especially with many young people at the event. I said to one family member, “this is why feminists get a bad name sometimes.” You see, it makes it seem like all feminists are overcome with anger. And that we hate men.

But I don’t. And I’m a feminist.

Then I saw this on Twitter recently:

Women as man-haters? Not all of us.
I am a feminist and I’m are not like this. We aren’t all about hate. Twitter screenshot.

Look at that bubble of hate in the “feminist” mind. I felt ill when I saw the image. Yes, I know it was tweeted out by a parody account. But I don’t find it funny. It’s in bad taste. You’ll notice it also plays into other female stereotypes, including those about red-heads and “crazy cat ladies” (other article topics sometime, perhaps). When exactly did the word “feminist” become synonymous with hate?

Feminism: A Turn-off for Men?

Feminism has been a turn-off for at least one man I’ve known. Let me tell you a story.

I went on a first date with a guy a few years back that I had met online and we had a fun conversation when we met in person. He liked that I was witty, and I the same for him. Fast forward a few dates later, and we realized we both have public profiles – he showed me his YouTube page, and I showed him my Twitter feed. Well, he looked at the word “feminist” within my Twitter bio and went “Woah, you didn’t tell me that” (me paraphrasing). Let’s just say he found that word a turn-off and wasn’t shy about telling me so.

It could be that he’s been met with angry women before who identified themselves to him as feminists – and believe me I DO get their anger. I get the poems being said at the art event I went to were likely in an effort to stand up for the past generations of females that have been wronged. Trust me I get it. But why do we have to be shocking and yelling in tone to get our points across? Wouldn’t respectful voices get more of a positive reaction? I know I don’t do well when someone raises their voice at me – I usually get my back up when that happens and don’t listen clearly.

What Feminism Is, and Isn’t

To me, feminism is not about “let’s put down men to help women get what we deserve.” NO. I believe that for women to reach gender equality, we must work with men rather than being against them. It will take all of society to move toward equality.

BUT let this please be known. To anyone who says gender equality is already here, I disagree. There’s the #MeToo movement. And yes I know that sexual harassment in the workplace affects men as well as women. It affects more than twice as many women as men though, as per a 2017 CNBC survey.

I believe that feminism is about equality in society, politics and all other rights between the sexes. So, is that a turn-off? And do we have to use a shocking tone of voice to shake up a peaceful art event to share this message?

Striving for equality between the sexes
Ladies, we deserve to have equal rights and opportunities to men. Photo via Pexels.

What I am also saying is that feminism is not about being “the same.” We have different physical attributes, obviously. So we cannot get to the same physicality between genders most of the time. Even between guys and between girls there are different levels of strength. Instead, feminism is about equal RIGHTS and OPPORTUNITIES.

Rethinking Assumptions about Feminism

Are there extremes when it comes to feminist attitudes? As with most things, I’m sure there are. But to anyone who is against the term feminism I ask that you please understand we’re not all man-haters. Or searing with anger 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I have a boyfriend I adore, a father I love deeply, and one of my best friends is a guy. And, yes, I’m a feminist.

What are your thoughts on feminists being grouped together as man-haters?

129 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Christy!😙 You’re EXACTLY right abl ut feminists receiving a bad rap!😬 Amazing posts like yours makes all the difference. You are fantastic and amazing.💖 I posted an update about my family right before the Well Shit moment and don’t know if you saw but know I appreciated all of your support and I finally updated everyone a little!
    Never stop being yourself!💖 You are an inspiration.😚💖

  2. My first thought is, “those w/the loudest voices are heard” – anger catches our attention, and we remember it most often. My second thought is, softer more positive feminism probably doesn’t show up on most people’s radar – or, at least don’t recognize it.

  3. Yes, yes, yes, YES. Well said, Christy. You’ve got a feminist sister, here! And I agree 100% with all that you’ve said. It’s about equality, not putting men down. Because, as you mentioned, there are some pretty amazing men out there, just like there are some pretty amazing women out there.
    Great work, and wonderful writing. You hit the nail on the head yet again, my friend.

    • YES, Kelsey, yes! Amazing men AND women. Sometimes I get comments here that I’m only speaking to women. But the reality is that that’s what I’m passionate about and my doing so is not in any way trying to say men are not a part of the equation. They ARE and will continue to be. Thanks for being here <3

  4. Much needed conversation! I often feel a whole generation of women was betrayed by the initial wave of feminism, because instead of having the opportunity to pursue a career outside the home women were seen as just another work force to exploit. It happened at the same time the economy was in awful shape; women were forced to work. There are 3 issues which the latest wave of feminism has yet to address: (1) Confusing empowerment with objectifying your own body, especially on social media; (2) The hypocrisy of acting out in all the ways you hate about some men; and (3) Competition with other women rather than cooperation and mentoring.

  5. I am a feminist but I am also hurt when you hear women who are militantly against men for no reason at all. Yes some men have done heinous things against women but there are loads out there who are doing the right things. Somehow we have to differentiate between the good and the bad.

  6. This is one of the issue for feminists being grouped together as man-hater. Some are not man-haters. I can understand the reason the feminists have gone through great sufferings with men who bullied and even humiliate them. However, there are also men who treats women well.

    >

  7. Totally agree with what you said. I’ve always thought people who confuse feminists with man-haters are dumbing things down deliberately to change the subject. The other two ideas that people get confused are hate and anger. I can be very angry about injustice, for example. But I can also be a loving and caring person who doesn’t hate anyone.

  8. I feel that labelling feminists as man-haters is done simply to discredit. That way, the message can be easily dismissed and no discussion has to be entered into, which says a lot about the person dishing out the label. I also think that sometimes we confuse anger with aggression, which is why women are often afraid of it. For me, anger is best expressed assertively – I love to hear women speak with confidence, passion and clarity, which is exactly what you have done in this fantastic post. Thanks, Christy.

    • I agree – I think the man-hating label has always been largely inaccurate, but it’s a great way to weaken the narrative.

      I also think anger is okay. Whatever emotions we’re feeling are okay. Having women subjugate their feelings because they make men feel uncomfortable is part of the problem. When shitty things happen, anger is an appropriate response. But it’s not the only one, and feminism comes in all shapes and sizes – it should come in the form of every single woman, and I definitely demand it from every man I care about as well. It’s a sickening thought, but the oppressed always need the cooperation of their oppressors in order to rise up.

      • Jay, you are bringing up a great point here – Oppressors by their very definition have the power and so change comes when they participate. But I also hope that not all leaders are oppressing women (maybe I’m naive!). Anger isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just needs to be channeled in a healthy way xx Thank you for your insightful comment, as per… always.

    • Oh goodness I am most humbled by your compliment, Julie ❤ And that’s a very smart statement you make about labeling feminists as man-haters as a way to stop discussion right then and there – I hadn’t thought of it like that before!

  9. Really interesting post that definitely got me thinking so here are my views on the subject: I believe that we all have masculine and feminine energy and that the only way there will ever be genuine equality is if we focus on our similarities and not on our differences. Extreme feminists have widened the gap rather than narrowing it because they are so determined to separate themselves from men in all ways possible. If we all place ourselves into one group or another we will naturally find things to disagree about – we have voluntarily placed ourselves on, what amounts to, opposing sides. This breeds anger and resentment and extreme behaviour from both sides. If we can work together, listen to other opinions and accept each other as individuals rather than a member of one group or another I believe that we’ll have much more success.

  10. Many people believe in a cause, be it feminism or veganism but some people seem to lose themselves to the cause; breathing, eating & sleeping the cause until they end up believing that only their opinion is right and woe betide you if you try to suggest otherwise or don’t concur.

  11. How timely a read for this gal! Just this morning, I was making a statement to my husband and actually used the phrase, “back when I was a feminist.” He replied with, “Aren’t you still a feminist?” It was a watershed moment for me. I realized that what I should have said was more akin to something along the lines of, “back when I still had very strong anger/trust issues with men.”

    I **am** a feminist and always have been. but now it is a part of my philosophy, not my cause celebre, so to speak. Thanks, as always, Christy, for your enlightening words. xox

  12. I think men and women should work together on building a better future and not against each other! And it has a lot to do with the way we educate the young generation.
    Teach them to love, respect and work together instead of hating and competing with each other on who’s better.

    Great post Christy! Have an awesome day 🙂

  13. This is such an interesting post and hits so close to home. Because I like to consider myself as an evolving feminist; suffice to say that I am still understanding what feminism stands for and more importantly what it doesn’t – male bashing as you said. There is a draft in my folder, and I have no idea how to articulate my thoughts and experiences without it as coming across as a rant! This anger, especially as my environment becomes more and more ridiculous (I am from India, and we are not evolving!!), keeps building up. It is important to have a two-way dialogue instead of a one-way rant.

    Whew!

    • I hope you do publish that draft one day, Prajakta. I welcome all opinions, as long as they are written with respect, and I think whatever you end up publishing will get that kind of response from your readers. It saddens me that India is so far from gender parity. I do hope that you know I send you much love.

  14. Christy, this is so well stated. In some circles, feminism has become a dirty word, precisely because of what you describe. I try to use the opportunity to remind people that, at its core, feminism is about women having equal rights, period, and that if you believe women should be able to vote, own property, and have access to the same jobs as men, being paid the same for doing the same work (and not be harassed simply because we’re women)… then you are indeed a feminist. And perhaps more mainstream women need to be bold about making that kind of statement to re-normalize the label.

  15. You clearly state the separation between feminism and man-hating. I’ve been a feminist since the sixties and have evolved through anger to sadness and compassion for men who have also been formed in a gender specific world. At this time in my life I see the defenses of so many men and women as fear of change. I look at my activism of the 70’s and 80’s and see the same issues today. I do have hope that more women are speaking out and more men are getting it. thanks for a thought provoking piece.

  16. Hi there, a very interesting read! To add my two cents… although in certain circumstances the anger isn’t really appropriate, poetry, and especially slam poetry, is all about vocal expression. It’s important not to take the anger and the feminist perspective and make them one and the same. Some of my favourite slam poets speak about totally unrelated things to feminism but they get so into their art that they really let all their emotion out. And that’s okay. Similar to a comment above, women have historically been expected to “not make a fuss” and anger is perceived as a traditionally male emotion, so it’s important that we don’t bash women for being angry. I think if you’re speaking or debating about feminism with someone then it’s important to be calm and diplomatic, but artistic expression without emotion is just kinda…meh!

    • Hi Jeri! You know what, growing up I always had black and white reasoning. It wasn’t until I was an adult and had to see a therapist about issues that I even realized I thought that way! Glad to have you on the feminist squad <3

  17. Beautifully said. I agree that they took the word “feminism” and turned it into something with a negative connotation–and we need to take it back. It’s a word of strength. I think it’s partly from women who truly are angry and hateful but also from men who try to belittle our stance and turn us into un-women. That’s why when I see men proudly call themselves feminists, I think it’s sweet, and I really appreciate their support. It’s not just a woman thing, after all. It’s a human thing.

  18. One of the best posts I’ve read here! Thank you Christy! I’m 100% on your page.
    Yet, we are eons ahead of many societies, so we are lucky. Many men on the planet do not, and will not for the foreseeable future, accept women as equals. My heart goes out to the young girls in India who are raped, and murdered because they go to school. This is just one example. It’s a long row to hoe, for women, as a whole.

  19. Christy, I agree entirely. Wanting to be treated fairly and being respected by the opposite sex does not, should not mean we hate men. Perhaps some women use the push for equal rights as an excuse to express their own resentments and aggressions, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a shame when the words and actions of a few outspoken individuals become a stereotype for an entire movement. I believe that in order for women to truly receive fair treatment, we must insist on such for everyone. After all, “equal” can only truly be applied across the board, not to one area or group irrespective of the rest.

  20. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Christy Birmingham on the subject of Feminism and how a minority of women have given this worthy cause, a rather different public face. Even as a woman I find rampant male focussed tirades offensive and an insult to the thousands of pioneering women around the world who have paved the way across medicine, industry and education to provide me with my own path to success. Christy would like your views once you have read her excellent post of course… please leave your comments on her blog. thanks Sally

  21. Great post, Christy! It’s interesting how some people equate being a feminist with being a misandrist. This phenomenon occurs whenever someone is afraid to stand in their own power. They feel guilt, shame, fear, and anger for not doing so. Thus, when they see a minority person standing in their own power, they ridicule them in an attempt to make themselves feel better. They skew the truth; and the sad is that they don’t even know what the truth is. The flip side of this is people calling themselves feminists when they are, in fact, misandrists. It gives feminists a bad rep. Add to this that anger is often mistaken for hatred, especially when spoken by a woman who identifies as a feminist. The culprit here is fear; and it wears an ugly face. Hugs for sharing this wonderful post, my friend ❤️

    • It’s really just too bad that some people put others down and create divisions, when feminism is meant to be the opposite of that, in my opinion. Great point about fear, Tina! Your insights here are great <3 Hugging back

  22. Great post and very thought provoking, thank you! For myself I’m a feminist too and no those negative stereotypes do not apply to me or any of the feminists I know. One of the reasons feminism has developed a bad rap in some quarters is also because of inaccurate propaganda and a backlash by those that don’t really understand what feminism is. It never was about hating men or hating anything, it was about equal rights. Yes it’s true that feminism probably means something different to everyone, but one over-riding fact still remains – that feminism was and is simply about EQUALITY. That’s it, equality. It’s not a scary thing, its simply about having men and women treated with equal respect, getting equal pay for the same job, having an equal voice in society and having equal freedoms. That’s it. It’s not threatening anyone, just as equal rights should never be dependent on the colour of your skin, your ethnicity, religion or lack of, sexual orientation, cultural background, etc., it also should never be dependent on your gender. If women are angry about not having equal rights, that is not only understandable but should never be misinterpreted as hysteria or hatred, the same way that the civil rights movement were understandably angry that people of colour were being denied basic human rights because of the colour of their skin. As a wider society, we all have a part to play in ensuring that ALL people have equal rights and equal pay, so no, it’s got nothing to do with hate just about equality and fairness. 🙂

  23. What a great post and well said, Christy. I agree in that being a feminist doesn’t mean being a man-hater. It’s about equal rights and opportunities, as you conveyed. With that being said, things won’t always be equal between men and women because of the physical differences and other factors. It’s like being in a relationship. It won’t always be 50/50. It’s give and take on both sides.
    Regarding voices, it’s too bad that louder volumes are attention-grabbers, too, but I can also see a softer, firm, confident voice getting the message across, as well. I’m on the fence with this, but as we’ve grown up to learn, anger isn’t the answer. Shouldn’t it be “our” desire and goal to calm things down in the human race? I truly understand, though, why some women feel they have to raise their voices, otherwise, they may not be heard. It’s still truly astonishing, the mentality that women should be less than men in any circumstance, be it job position, salaries, etc. May it be someday (sooner than later) that both women and men can be respected equally…❤

  24. Thanks for the great post Christy! I think feminist is a great word and I’m proud to have that label.

    On a side note, I just went to see the movie RBG. I’ve had a decades long appreciate for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It’s nice to see her story made into a movie.

  25. Thank you, Christy, for sharing your thoughts about feminism. I also consider myself a feminist, but it is in celebration of what women has and can contribute to society as partners with men. It’s not about hate, but about mutual respect for each other. It’s unfortunate the label has received such a bad name.

  26. Great post! I did a post like this myself, and I was shocked that the first comment I got was trying to tell me that feminism is not a stance for equality. (Thankfully I put him right). I’m so glad you did this post because there are surprisingly so many people confused about what feminism is, and the more posts like this that are out there, the better. Well done!

  27. You right! Some women are angry but so are men. I honestly want equal rights & I don’t openly say it in every aspect of my life but I will point out rather forcefully that I will not be treated differently & that I command respect from both men & women. I have a opinion & would like it to be heard like every other persons at the table. Your right people have stereotyped feminism. I honestly believe the people (both men & women) that say these things are unknowing of what it means to be treated as equal, & have not yet experienced the same treatment.

  28. I really liked this post! And it seems we have very similar views on equality! I do not believe men and women should be “forced” to be the same. And I don’t think the fact that we are not the same is a problem – on the contrary, diversity is a strength. And exactly as you say, I strongly believe in equal rights and opportunity for all, regardless of gender (or skin colour, ethnicity etc). I believe everyone should be respected as a unique individual and not judged on the basis of being a woman or man, black or white etc. But I have never seen myself as a feminist. This is because most of the feminists I have encountered – in real life and online – have not shared the beliefs and values I described above. They have instead showed contempt, anger and even hatred towards men in general. And they have based most solutions on the principle of dividing all humans into different subgroups based on gender and skin colour and then proclaimed that every individual should be judged and treaded according to which gender and skin colour subgroup he or she “belongs to”: 1) the privileged guilty and evil oppressors who must be brought down, or 2) the innocent poor victims who must always receive special support and help.

    I know that this is not at all true about all feminists. Obviously you are a proof of that. And I wish all feminists were like you. Not the least because, as you point out, there are still inequalities, stereotypes and problems in society – many affect women more and some affect men more. I have personally experienced one aspect of this as my wife is a professional martial artist and self defence teacher. As you see, I even started blogging about this!

  29. I really liked this post! And it seems we have very similar views on equality! I do not believe men and women should be “forced” to be the same. And I don’t think the fact that we are not the same is a problem – on the contrary, diversity is a strength. And exactly as you say, I strongly believe in equal rights and opportunity for all, regardless of gender (or skin colour, ethnicity etc). I believe everyone should be respected as a unique individual and not judged on the basis of being a woman or man, black or white etc. But I have never seen myself as a feminist. This is because most of the feminists I have encountered – in real life and online – have not shared the beliefs and values I described above. They have instead showed contempt, anger and even hatred towards men in general. And they have based most solutions on the principle of dividing all humans into different subgroups based on gender and skin colour and then proclaimed that every individual should be judged and treaded according to which gender and skin colour subgroup he or she “belongs to”: 1) the privileged guilty and evil oppressors who must be brought down, or 2) the innocent poor victims who must always receive special support and help.

    I know that this is not at all true about all feminists. Obviously you are a proof of that. And I wish all feminists were like you. Not the least because, as you point out, there are still inequalities, stereotypes and problems in society – many affect women more and some affect men more. I have personally experienced one aspect of this as my wife is a professional martial artist and self defence teacher. As you can see, I even started blogging about this! 🙂

  30. You said something about feminist.
    I love girls who are feminist.

    I feel blessed by your writing right now.
    I found delight love and joy in what you just wrote about women. Though am a man but a women gave birth to me.  So I respect then a lot.

    I will love my own part of the contribution here and the feminist I have come across.

    Here is the little summary:

    I asked a Muslim girl who is my friend on Facebook, an Algerian  girl. She is a blogger also.  After a long chat we discussed some recent issues about women in the Society and likewise chinanmanda adichie a popular feminist in USA(the writer of purple hibiscus)

    So I throw up a question to her

    Question- Can you be a Feminist?

    Her answer(reply)
    One thing you should know about feminism is that there are many kinds of feminisms. Not all movements have the same goals and views. I can be a feminist. I might agree with some feminists like Adichie because they speak of troubles women go through in certain places and it makes sense. What I don’t agree with, though, is being a fanatical feminist, those who are fighting just for the sake of fighting. There needs to be a cause and as a Muslim woman, I fully believe that my religion has covered all what a woman needs to have. Islam assures all the rights of women and preserves them very well. So all what we need is to follow the rules of our conviction and work in accordance with them. And then we wouldn’t need a feminist movement at all. Thats my belief.

                                       Latina Khadidja

    Again such a beautiful writing.

    I Enjoy such post about feminists. Keep the good work.

    #PATRICKSTORIES
    Peace ✌and Love ❤

  31. Great post, Christy. I agree that a reasoned and measured approach tends to keep people from getting defensive, and when they’re not defensive, they can be more open-minded. My husband became a feminist when he realized I was making 10% less in pay than my male peers. The biases impact everyone, not just women. We are a long long way from equal rights and opportunities. The fact that women in the US may lose their right to make their own healthcare and family planning choices is an example of how fragile our rights are. Men would never expect or put up with their rights being so curtailed. Keep speaking up, my friend.

  32. One fundamental problem is that feminism is asking for change. If you are benefiting from an inequality, you are not going to see the need for change, and you are quite likely to resist the change. At the same time as you say there is no need for change your resistance to change is confirming that you don’t want to give up your advantage. So I suppose we have to understand this understandable resistance.

    It is very hard for a man and a woman to discuss sexual inequality. Just as it is hard for a white person and a black person to discuss racism. One has more skin in the game, and has been hurt by this inequality, and the other hasn’t, so struggles to see it. It is important that the hurt side helps the non-hurt side to see what is happening every day to them in a myriad of ways. The seemingly insignificant things: the song lyrics, and portrayal in tv comedies, and assumptions that a Dr is a man, the lack of dynamic and go-getting role-models.

    Men are not the enemy, but they do need help in seeing what the problems are, just as white people need help in seeing what the problems are. I am in a good relationship with a man who would now identify as a feminist, but he, like pretty much all men, initially mocked feminism because he misunderstood the need for it. Now he totally gets it, and calls me out when I make an assumption or limit the expectations on myself.

    • It’s amazing how many assumptions we make as we try to put ourselves into another person’s shoes but cannot always do so.. Thanks for your sobering comment as it really does add to the conversation here.

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