Feminism: a term misunderstood

March 8 marked International Women’s Day, leaving social media scattered with a word that has become a social taboo, especially in Latter-day Saint culture: feminism.

WebWhile 85 percent of Americans believe in equal rights for women, only 18 percent would consider themselves feminists, according to a recent poll by Vox.

By supporting feminism, we deny political, economic and social oppression of males and females alike. That doesn’t mean we have to deny the unique traits of men and women.

So why do the remaining 67 percent who believe in gender equality refuse to associate themselves with that word? What is the reason for people shrinking into the shadows when they hear the word feminism?

One common excuse for being anti-feminist is that gender inequality does not exist. That is false for both genders.

Some debate the gender wage gap where, on average, a white woman who works full-time and year-round in the US earns 79 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, according to the article “The Gender Wage Gap: 2015” by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. This gap widens with women of color, averaging 64 cents for African-American women and 54 cents for Latina women, according to the article.

Many say this wage gap can be explained by other factors, such as the fact that women tend to work fewer hours than men, and, according the American Association of University Women, the gap will shrink depending on the variables involved but will never fully disappear. Approximately one third of the gap cannot be explained by these other variables and is likely caused by bias or discrimination, according to the AAUW.

Another common misconception is that feminism is a war between the two sexes.

Emma Watson, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, spoke at a HeForShe campaign event in 2014 and said we too often associate fighting for gender equality with man-hating.

“I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success,” Watson said. “Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either. We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes, but I can see that they are.”

Watson said the gender stereotypes for men and women are inversely related, and that if we get rid of gender stereotypes for men, gender stereotypes for women will naturally be resolved.

“If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive,” Watson said. “If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.”

Both sexes have suffered the backlash of gender inequality and find themselves answering to roles that have been created for them by society.

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive,” Watson said. “Both men and women should feel free to be strong. If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be freer. It’s about freedom.”

What many have failed to recognize is that feminism is not women hating men, nor is it women trying to take on a man’s role.

“I want men to take up this mantle so that their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice, but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, to reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned, and in doing so, be a truer and complete version of themselves,”
Watson said.

What it all really boils down to is agency. It is about ensuring that men and women don’t face discrimination or stereotypes that prevent them from using their agency.

“Feminism doesn’t say a woman who stays at home and raises a family is oppressed or regressive,” according to MensXP. “It respects a woman who has chosen to become a homemaker as much as it embraces a woman who steps out and makes a mark in the big bad corporate world.”

On June 28, 2014, The Office of the First Presidency released a statement about the roles of women in the church

“In God’s plan for the happiness and eternal progression of his children, the blessings of his priesthood are equally available to men and women,” according to the statement. “Only men are ordained to serve in priesthood offices. All service in the Church has equal merit in the eyes of God.”

We side fully with the First Presidency on this matter, as well as the doctrine of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” which identifies the unique roles of a man and a woman and describes both men and women to be equally yoked in these responsibilities.

This in no way suggests inequality, but acknowledges the fact that men and women have different strengths and weaknesses based on their inherent differences as separate sexes. It is a way of acknowledging that we are separate but deserve equal rights and opportunities to allow free agency for   all individuals.

People may look at some so-called feminism extremists and be afraid to put the same label on themselves. What we often fail to remember is that there are extremists in every group in the world, and we cannot allow those extremists to define the group as a whole.

Wanting equality for both sexes should not be an extreme idea.

'Feminism: a term misunderstood' have 10 comments

  1. March 15, 2016 @ 8:30 pm Anti-feminist

    Feminism has nothing to do with equality. That’s just the big lie which covers the Big Lie. Bigotry, reverse-sexism, female supremacism, reverse-rascism, heterophobia, and fascism should be taboo.


  2. March 15, 2016 @ 10:56 pm Anti-feminist

    “Some debate the gender wage gap where, on average, a white woman who works full-time and year-round in the US earns 79 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, according to the article “The Gender Wage Gap: 2015” by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. This gap widens with women of color, averaging 64 cents for African-American women and 54 cents for Latina women, according to the article.”

    Please stop bloviating about the gender wage gap or quoting anything from any (oxymoronic) women’s research group. Everyone knows that the ‘gender’ (really sex) wage gap is due to women’s choices. To imagine that women are paid less for the same work is absolutely ridiculous as well as disingenuous.

    It’s the Sexed Death/Early Mortality Gap which IS real and which overwhelmingly favors men which really needs to be addressed by the ‘gendered’ bigots who use men as disposable objects to do their dangerous, dirty, and uncomfortable fighting/work for them. Were feminist ever given true equality, they’d run right back to the patriarchy begging for mercy. But, because men, willingly and foolishly, do the dying so that feminists can do the lying (about men) women have never really been forced to be equal to men.


  3. March 18, 2016 @ 12:47 am Paul Cavanaugh

    STOP LYING!!!! Women make the same amount as men for the same jobs and wage discrimination is illegal. If you think women are making less than men for the same jobs, LIST THE EXAMPLES SO WE CAN STOP IT!

    This ridiculous nonsense has to stop. Either accept that women make different choices than men or FORCE women to take STEM courses, FORCE them to get good grades, then FORCE them to take higher paying jobs and work the same long hours that men do.

    No? Then knock it off. Feminism is killing this country.


  4. March 22, 2016 @ 1:11 pm Kristine A

    Wow, lots of anti-feminism here.

    The biggest source of the pay gap is the fact that when women end up taking over a previously-male-dominated field the pay drops by almost half.

    “It’s not that women are always picking lesser things in terms of skill and importance,” Ms. England said. “It’s just that the employers are deciding to pay it less.”

    A striking example is to be found in the field of recreation — working in parks or leading camps — which went from predominantly male to female from 1950 to 2000. Median hourly wages in this field declined 57 percentage points, accounting for the change in the value of the dollar, according to a complex formula used by Professor Levanon. The job of ticket agent also went from mainly male to female during this period, and wages dropped 43 percentage points.

    The same thing happened when women in large numbers became designers (wages fell 34 percentage points), housekeepers (wages fell 21 percentage points) and biologists (wages fell 18 percentage points). The reverse was true when a job attracted more men. Computer programming, for instance, used to be a relatively menial role done by women. But when male programmers began to outnumber female ones, the job began paying more and gained prestige.”



    • March 26, 2016 @ 1:11 pm Paul Cavanaugh

      It’s stunning that you think this is an argument. If women enter a field previously dominated by men, obviously the supply of employees doubles and therefore the amount of money a corporation needs to pay for that position is greatly diminished. Right? Uh right??

      You don’t really care about that do you because it doesn’t feed your narrative. The reality is quite simple. Business is a cruel but fair arena. If women did the same job for less money, you can bet that corporations would only hire women. In fact this process is so brutally honest that corporations often lie, cheat, and steal for no other reason than to increase their profits. It’s about money and will always be about money.

      Yet somehow you weave an alternate reality where there’s discrimination. WHY?? Men like working besides women. Men like flirting with female co-workers. Men like looking at female bodies more than male ones. Men find women to generally be more submissive to their instructions. Women tend to try and please male bosses more than female bosses. This is all real. This is all truth. Everyone knows it and you’re dishonest if you deny it.

      Again…..I am tired of feminists lying about this issue. If you think you are being discriminated because of your sex, sue. You’re going to be rich. Western governments have all passed laws to punish businesses who do this however for some odd reason those laws are almost never invoked. I wonder why?


  5. March 29, 2016 @ 11:26 pm Falling out of love with the word “feminism” – always, kiley

    […] have recently written several articles as well as given a speech about why feminism is so important and often misunderstood. What […]


  6. May 25, 2016 @ 1:37 pm Feminism: a term misunderstood – always, kiley

    […] Follow this link to read the editorial. […]


  7. June 1, 2016 @ 12:21 am Jane

    Feminism is cancer.


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