Feminist Myths

As a club at IUP, Women’s and Gender Studies holds a table semesterly where we debunk Feminist Myths. We try to keep it light-hearted and give people a place to ask questions about things that they might not necessarily know about.

We offer a true and false game to let participants guess whether or not specific things are upheld beliefs in the Feminist Community. The trick of the game is to let participants find out more about Feminism so that it doesn’t seem like such a scary concept like most people who are against feminism make it out to be. So, here are a couple of Feminist Myths and why they are, in fact, myths and not true.

First, the Wage Gap was eradicated by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and women and men are now paid the same.

The wage gap is not merely just about getting paid the same amount for minimum wage jobs. It is about job opportunities and starting salaries offered to people. The wage gap is a bias against working mothers and women of color. Out of 50 states, 7, yes SEVEN, are considered states with “STRONG EQUAL PAY PROTECTIONS.”

Yes, 49 states do include Discrimination Provision; requiring that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. This is enforced when taken to court. Most times, unfortunately, this isn’t taken to court, because people don’t realize that they’re being paid less than their male counterparts.

The State of Alabama actually has ZERO equal pay protections in place and 17 other states have severely weak protections. There are several occupations where women are earning significantly less than they would with equal pay. For example, female physicians and surgeons are typically paid $19 billion less annually.

Second, Feminists hate all men.

Feminists do not hate men.

A relevant issue; however, is Hegemonic Masculinity. Hegemonic Masculinity can be defined as “behaviors and language associated with the idealized male group that is seen as having the most power and status in society.” America is a Patriarchal culture. This means that we run under the rules, laws, and traditions of men. Yes, this was the way that the world was when the United States was formed.

Yes, we do have founding fathers, but we also lit rooms using candles when that happened. Many many things have become updated since 1776, for example, slavery has been abolished, women gained the right to vote, we have gone to space. Still, the percentage of women in Congress is at 23%. I am extremely grateful that the state of women in the US is better than before, but there are many things that you, as a straight, white man will never understand. Feminists want equality and equity, not dominance and hegemony.

Last, you can’t be a feminist if you’re a man.

You never need to be a certain gender or fit into a box to be an Ally (read more about how to be an Ally here). You also don’t have to say she’s someone’s mom or sister, or cousin, etc. to need to sympathize with survivors of sexual assault. Recognize that women make up half of this world, yet they are constantly being discounted because a biological factor that is out of our control.

Feminism is about equality for all marginalized groups. As a feminist,  you can fight for LGBTQ+ groups, P. O. C, the class system, just remember that it affects women and see how you can make small changes in your life to recognize that.

Education is always the easiest and best way to get involved, do not be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know something.

Helpful Links:

 Myths About Feminism

The Simple Truth About the Gender Wage Gap

Bi: Nary, Phobia, Sexual

The way that we categorize our world is typically in a binary standard. As humans, it makes everything easier to understand if we put it under labels. For gender, we think there’s either male or female. For sexuality, we expect people to either be heterosexual or homosexual. And when something doesn’t necessarily fit into that category or expectation, it makes us uncomfortable.

For this post, I’ve decided to put together the terms Binary, Non-Binary, Bisexuality, and Biphobia because gender and sexuality are never just one or the other, they are presented on a spectrum.

As I said above, gender is often viewed as a binary opposition, but there are people who do not always identify as one or the other or as a combination and identify as non-binary or genderqueer. Typically, non-binary or genderqueer folks use the pronoun they/them because it does not identify them as a man or woman. You should never assume what someone’s pronouns are if they haven’t told you and it is better to respectfully ask what someone would like you to call them.

Non-binary is not a new category of identifying oneself either and it’s not “just a phase.” Hundreds of societies have three or more genders including the Mahu in Hawaii, the Femminiello in Italy, and the Malmuk in Egypt. People who don’t identify as male or female in these societies are typically seen as spiritual leaders. For example, the Mahu are people that are born either sex but embody gender roles of both genders, they hold sacred roles and are valued members of society as educators, and often lead ancient traditions. Unfortunately, while third genders in some societies are values, many people are still persecuted for this and it is important to recognize that.

Moving onto bisexuality, just like gender, sexuality is on a spectrum. Not everyone is 100% straight or 100% gay, there are people who do fall in between. Just like non-binary people, bisexual people are not “going through a phase” or secretly straight or secretly gay. If someone identifies as bisexual and they are dating someone of the opposite sex, they are still bisexual. If someone identifies as bisexual and they are dating someone of the same sex, they are still bisexual.

Biphobia is the belief that this identity is just someone “going through a phase,” and unfortunately even members of the LGBTQ+ community discount bisexual identities telling them to “just pick a side.”

Being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community means recognizing these identities and not discounting them just because it is something foreign to you.

You don’t have to understand exactly what someone’s identity is to respect it. 

Other Useful Resources:

Understanding Non-Binary People: How to be Respectful and Supportive

A Map of Gender Diverse Cultures (uses some problematic language, so be aware of that but still helpful to see how different every culture is).