Up-and-coming actress Shailene Woodley and infamous singer Beyonce have both recently denied being feminists because they either “love men” or “enjoy being a mother and a wife.” These responses are reflective of the negative, bitter connotation feminism has received since its beginnings. The negative connotation of feminism is a concept people have shunned for decades due to the harsh rejection it received from a patriarchal society. Consequently, many women (like Shailene Woodley and Beyonce) deny feminism, and believe it to be a force that specifically thrives on the general hate for all men. Yet there is no single definition because feminism has become a subjective construct. For instance, Belle Knox, infamously also known as the Duke Porn Star, believes that her work in the porn industry should be considered “feminism,” but what does that even mean? Subjectiveness of feminism has been both a curse and a blessing in many ways, and here is why this is the case.
The terms “feminism” & “feminist” were coined in the nineteenth (by the likes of Joan Kelly), and twentieth century as “learned books and articles appeared on feminism in antiquity,the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and especially in the period beginning in the seventeenth century” (Offen). These books reflect the long history of women’s promotion of equality over time. When factoring in the changing times of feminism, the definition of equality and what constitutes as feminism continued (and still is continuing) to change. “By 1900 a veritable taxonomy of self-described or imputed feminisms had sprung into being: “familial feminists,” “integral feminists, “Christian feminists,” “socialist feminists,” “radical feminists, and “male feminists,” among others” (Offen). As womanhood has progressed and changed with the growth of definition of what it means to be a woman, feminism has grown and changed to accommodate the new world.
Despite feminism compromising a multitude of different subsections, feminism is portrayed as a one-dimensional conception. The fallacy of making this mistake has been the primary form of information received by society. This is why men believe they cannot be feminist. This is why many women believe in order to be a feminist, they must hate all men. Consequently, several women and men distance them from a concept that is meant to unify and to elevate all people to a certain level of equal rights. Let’s hope the world will one day reach this point.
Offen, Karen. “Defining Feminism: A Comparative Historical Approach.” Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 14.1 (1988): n.p. Print.