Pop-culture Feminism: Misogyny Re-branded
Nowadays everything is over complicated for the sake of being complicated, the goal being to confuse anyone who is willing to learn among the endless tirade of propaganda. With the media becoming littered with so many obscure buzzwords and misinformation masquerading as so-called ‘opinions’, Feminism is one of the topics that’s true meaning is often lost among the rubble.
While feminism is perceived to be a gendered term, the original goal of the movement was to bring everyone together through a shared equality, with said focus being on the systemic oppression of women. But as most things that start out with good intentions, Feminism has been reduced down from being an empowering symbol of unity, to something that is ridiculed by most because of an immature demographic. A demographic that is small but outspoken and is made up of the ill informed or simply the ignorant. These ‘pop culture feminists’ who don’t understand the history of feminism and employ the word however they choose, not realizing the detriment of their actions to the cause. The young women who coined the term ‘pick me girl’ - girls who try to appeal to males for validation- but is it not the women singling other women out
who are the true ‘pick-me’s’? And is it truly the
fault of the ‘pick-mes’ in question that they feel as if they have to change themselves to make themselves fit the mold of the ‘desired woman’ created by patriarchal standards?
Pop-culture feminists are the women who ridicule other women for being mothers, who preach freedom of choice, but only if that choice is to find an ‘actual job’ - as if motherhood is not enough - and look down on the women who choose not to ’work’. The idea of freedom of choice has been so greatly skewed, to the point that women are the foremost attackers of other women. This is not referring to physical conflict, but rather the instinct to turn on other women to get ahead. One of my favorite authors, radical feminist Bonnie Burstow, shows this in the description of a scenario all too familiar to most of us: “Often father and daughter look down on mother (woman) together. They exchange meaningful glances when she misses a point. They agree that she is not bright as they are, and cannot reason as they do. This collusion does not save the daughter from the mother’s fate.” Eventually the daughter will become the mother; whether she decides to have children or not has nothing to do with the fact.
Make no mistake, Feminism is for everyone and this means that the men 'in support' of the movement can also be part of the problem. The sad truth is, we need men on our side to support us because then our issues will be more likely to be listened to. That isn't to say they don't have their own issues: toxic masculinity and male sexual assault. But scrolling through social media, I see countless men putting on skirts and eyeliner and claiming they've done something revolutionary while millions of young girls pine after them in the comments. While yes, men should be allowed to wear what they want, I doubt that straight white male will go out in public wearing a mini skirt. This isn't the only performatism that can be seen among the male 'feminists'; most of the time male sexual assault and harassment is only brought up to discredit women sharing their own sexual harassment stories. "It happens to us too" and "Not all men" are as harmful as "She was asking for it" or "Innocent until proven guilty".
People don’t realize how deeply ingrained misogyny is in our society; the women I mentioned as examples of pop culture feminists are simply a product of this imbalance in society, where they feel its a zero sum game among other women. Its no secret that femininity is looked down upon; why most girls go through a tomboy phase where they claim to hate dolls and the color pink, things we’ve been taught to associate as girly. While some girls may genuinely dislike such things, they shouldn’t feel like they have to avoid them outright just to be taken seriously. These girls then learn not to wear things when they’re older if they want to be respected, a vicious cycle that repeats itself generation after generation.
The lesser known evil is the commoditization of femininity, or how big corporations exploit the Feminist movement to make money off of their performatism. Shirts that read "Empowered women empower women" and "my body my choice" bought from companies that underpay their workers (no surprise, female employees get paid the lowest wages) and force them to work long hours in inhumane conditions. (news flash: American working rights might date back to the Industrial Revolution, but barely anything is made in the USA).
This is where Feminism’s true importance lies; with each wave we’ve been able to break the stereotypes that come with being a woman, from dealing with our right to vote and own property, to anti-discrimination and reproductive rights, and now the foremost issue of combating sexual harassment and assault. As women, we must remember that we are stronger in numbers and we should focus our attention on solving our shared issues. Together.