Feminism: such a simple word that carries so many different meanings in our society. My boyfriend is scared of the word feminism. He even used the term “bra burner” when defending why he is not a feminist (you can only imagine the uncontrollable response that spouted from my mouth while I was unconscious from anger for 3 minutes after he said it).
In my family, feminism was a good word not a bad word. My mother is strong and is not scared to speak her mind on any topic, no matter how minute. My grandmothers (on both sides) tend to be the same, and have been activists their whole lives for equality. My grandmother on my Mom’s side was active in the civil rights movement in Charleston and went back to get her masters in WGST at the age of 70. All of the women in my life, and the men, have taught me that I can do anything—I was never told that I couldn’t play a sport and do something because I was a girl. I went to an all girl’s school for over 13 years and since I can remember I was raised with feminism in mind.
The media’s portrayal of feminism is diverse. Recently I was watching Mad Men and decided to do some research on the show. While surfing the net, I found a couple of articles published in 2009 discussing whether or not Mad Men can be seen as a pro feminist show. I like watching the show and I had realized the amount of detail that is placed on the aspect of sexual harassment in the workplace in the 1960s, but I never thought of it as pro-feminism. In Tom Matlack’s article, Is Mad Men a Feminist Show?, in the Huffington Post explains:
“As it turns out the creator of Mad Men views his show as a feminist show exactly because of its painfully accurate portrayal of the treatment of women in the workplace in the early 1960s. Weiner told me the highest praise he ever gets is when a woman approaches him after a public appearance to say she was a secretary during that era that era and the show got the sexual harassment exactly right. They always thank him for putting a spotlight on what really happened.”
I found that to be very interesting because I had never thought about it like that. In more blatant situations, shows portray feminism in the more traditional sense. As Lind and Salo explain, feminism is usually framed around more radical thoughts and ideals and femenists are viewed as different from the normal woman. They are either lesbians or over sexualized women who have power and treat sex as a disposable object. The latter is relevant in shows like Sex and the City, with characters like Samantha who reject monogamy, is always talking about sex in a crude manner, and hardly ever falls in love.
The media has a very strong influence over what the people see feminism to be, and to combat them will be a challenge—but we can do it. The future is ours and it is up to us to change what we think is incorrect. My view of feminism has not changed since I entered this course—feminists are any people who believe in equality, and I am proud to be one of those peoples.
For such a simple definition, feminism sure packs a lot of misconception.