After a year and a half of sharing my views with you all (hopefully ideas that show feminism isn’t just a punchline), this is my last column. I’d like to leave you with some parting thoughts. When I tell people I’m feminist, I usually get one of these reactions. I hope these myth-busters help change the conversation:
Myth No. 1: Feminists are just hairy-armpitted, lesbian, spinster hags.
Some of us don’t shave regularly, but that’s because it’s such a damn chore! But seriously, feminists work hard to shine a light on the many issues women face. When people dismiss our ideas, focusing instead on appearance or sexual orientation, it just proves prejudices still exist!
Myth No. 2: Feminists keep harping about the same things.
Rape, abortion, workplace equity and rights still dominate the conversation because, well, if these problems had disappeared, we wouldn’t continue to see violence against women, under-representation as voices in politics and media, or lack of access to safe, legal abortions (G8 maternal plan, anyone?).
Myth No. 3: Equality has been achieved.
Canadian women have parallel lives: They make up the majority of the workforce and post-secondary enrolment, yet still earn less, are less likely to be managers, and when they get home, do the majority of housework. The quality of life among low-income and aboriginal populations is lower than the average; in Nunavut, the child mortality rate is four times the Canadian average. Does that sound like equality to you?
Myth No. 4: Feminists hate men and want to put them down.
No one’s looking to rule over men, we’re just looking out for the little guys (in a manner of speaking), whether it’s racism, homophobia, classism, or even patriarchy at play. Any guy who’s been expected to be a provider, a leader, to play sports or to stop being a nancy knows how burdening social expectations can be. A feminist who puts down someone else is no feminist.
Myth No. 5: Modern feminism is so trivial.
That’s only if you consider feminism to be the domain of the Western world. Consider that in the developing world, a woman dies every minute either in pregnancy or in childbirth, and 90 per cent of these deaths are preventable; women are trafficked into the sex trade; women in many parts of the world have no access to health care, education or jobs. As long as these stories exist, there is always a woman who needs a helping hand.
It’s been a good run, and thanks for listening. Stay in touch at caniceleung.com.