Many falsely assume that feminism is somehow about self loathing women, illogical emotion driven women, women with hairy armpits, women who look like men, unattractive women, lesbians, and supplicating men who think being a feminist will get them laid. Fortunately a group of feminists at Duke University have banded together and launched the website Who Needs Feminism. They are combating the misconceptions about feminism, while directing public attention to the real and pressing issues which only feminism can solve. Here is their About statement from the bottom of their site (emphasis mine):
Identify yourself as a feminist today and many people will immediately assume you are man-hating, bra-burning, whiny liberal. Perhaps a certain charming radio talk show host will label you as a “Feminazi” or “slut.” Even among more moderate crowds, feminism is still seen as too radical, too uncomfortable, or simply unnecessary. Feminism is both misunderstood and denigrated regularly right here on Duke’s campus. We, the 16 women of Professor Rachel Seidman’s course on Women in the Public Sphere, have decided to fight back against these popular misconceptions surrounding the feminist movement. Our class was disturbed by what we perceive to be an overwhelmingly widespread belief among students that today’s society no longer needs feminism. In order to change this perception on campus, we have launched a PR campaign for feminism. We aim to challenge existing stereotypes surrounding feminists and assert the importance of feminism today.
They have created a submission form where feminists can submit their own photos and statements. Based on the text on the form it appears that they are exercising editorial discretion regarding which submissions are published. This is a very good idea, otherwise some non feminists might submit caricatures of feminism to try to discredit the campaign and make feminists look foolish:
We prefer and prioritize photo statements that use our original poster format, but we do read all submissions!
Once you’ve taken a moment to rid yourself of any male privilege and preconceived notions of what feminism is about, I’ll point out some of the insight the learned ladies at Professor Seidman’s Women in the Public Sphere are sharing with the world as part of their PR campaign. Note that each entry has both a photo and text. Be sure to click on the links to see the photo.
I’m serious though; put away the male privilege and open your mind. Feminism isn’t about a bunch of hairy pitted misfits trying desperately to change the world so they personally will fit in better and be seen as more attractive. It is a serious intellectual pursuit. If you don’t knock this kind of thinking off I’ll have to ask you to quit reading.
First up is Leah, and she is here to destroy the stereotype. Leah needs feminism because:
I need feminism because I shouldn’t need a reason for not shaving my pits (I’m not making a statement; it’s just more comfortable).
Way to go Leah! Just because one feminist happens to have hairy armpits, it doesn’t mean this is an important issue to feminists! This is simply a personal matter and one of comfort. It isn’t like they are broadcasting their hairy pits on the network news or making political statements with them. And men think they are so logical! Next on our tour of enlightenment is batmanisreal. She needs feminism because she looks like a man. Her poster reads:
I need feminism because I am a woman, even though I may not look like society’s version of a woman.
The text below the poster states:
I’m tired of getting beaten up because women don’t understand and men are intimidated.
Some of the patriarchal smartasses among my readers are likely thinking (no doubt with their male privilege): Women like batmanisreal already get special protection under the law and in the workplace. Isn’t that the mark of a society with great compassion and tolerance? However, what you need to understand is we need feminism so that people won’t just tolerate her lifestyle but will applaud it. She can’t be fully free to look and act as she wishes so long as others are free to form their own opinions. So check that male privilege and start thinking logically or I’ll seriously ask you to stop reading.
Next on our list is an entry by what appears to be the creator of the site herself, whoneedsfeminism:
I need feminism b/c my roomie’s philosophy textbook valued men’s experience as more “valid” and “logical” while the “feminist alternative of care” recieved a 1/2 pg. explanation of why emotions are “too subjective” to produce LOGIC…no wonder western thought is so patriarchal. Symbolic logic does not equal moral/women’s issues
Oh. This is embarrassing. In my own moments of male privilege above I accidentally implied that logical thinking is better than emotional thinking. I’ll leave the errors there though instead of burying my shame. Perhaps others can learn from my mistakes.
At any rate, now that I’m quite angry with myself for invoking my male privilege of logic over emotions I can at least better understand this next entry, also by whoneedsfeminism:
I need feminism because I hate myself.
Now that I’ve shed my own preconceived notions, I’m starting to better understand how women are being oppressed by not being encouraged to display their armpit hair with pride. Jade is being oppressed by the patriarchy and desperately needs our support:
The fact that a woman has armpit hair and does not hide it whilst on a television program for Ireland, should not make several news programs in Australia. This is RIDICULOUS and furthermore the men on said programs do not have a right to look disgusted or make horribly degrading comments.
I need feminism because 70% of people living in abject poverty are women and as a lesbian, poverty is 24% more likely for my girlfriend and I. This makes me worry about our life together.
Next is the powerful story of askdreambaker. She needs feminism so people won’t focus on her breasts:
I do not fit into the “ideal body image” at all and have been told as such. I have had remarks made about my breasts and about how if you ignore everything else I am bang-able. It has gotten to the point where I paranoid that, they are the only things that people see in me.
I’ll bet the only parts of her you looked at in the photo were her breasts, and you probably wondered if she is “bang-able”. What is wrong with you? Why did you objectify her by focusing on her breasts? Why didn’t you notice her hair, or her eyes? Why did her bang-ability even come to mind when you were reading about this serious feminist topic? See what she has to face every day?
Lastly I present the entry by stevenewlins. Note the decorative flair he drew around the word feminism to show how serious he is about the topic. If I’m reading him correctly, he wants to make sure women know he is down with them having casual sex and aborting any unwanted pregnancies which might occur as a result:
“I need feminism because I’m tired of living in a country where women are treated as if they’re undeserving of making decisions regarding their own bodies, they’re made to think they don’t need to be compensated equally for the same work, and they’re raised to think that slurs like ‘bitch’ and ‘slut’ are okay”
I’ve only pointed out a few of the entries, all from the first page*. However, there is much more insight where this came from. In fact there are 174 pages (and counting) of it. I only focused on the first page so you patriarchal pigs wouldn’t accuse me of cherry picking the best arguments the feminists had to make. I have no doubt however that I could have found equally enlightening entries on any of the 174 pages.
*At the time that I wrote the post on Saturday morning 7/28.