One of the biggest misconceptions about feminism is how it only benefits women. People's favourite stereotype of a feminist is a lesbian or man-hating woman when really all we want is for everybody to be treated the same way.
One of the biggest parts of feminism is challenging gender roles and sexual norms. Advertisements and media representations often alienate men too - think about it, how many times have you seen the helpless man stereotype on television and film? You know the man who can't perform basic duties such as feeding and clothing himself without a woman's help. How many times have advertisements made you feel like your body wasn't ripped enough? How many times have you been taught to believe that emotions show weakness? How many times have you been told that nice guys finish last? Have you ever felt ambivalent about what it means to be a "real man"? Well, my friend, let me talk to you about feminism.
Feminism is all about challenging sexist practices like these that punish you whenever you stray from them. All of these things listed above (plus more) do exactly that. Both sexes have been hurt by this ridiculously outdated traditional gender system as many people consider these things normal. Both sexes, especially men, can benefit from feminism. We believe that people shouldn't have to live up to outdated ideals and nobody should be bullied, mocked or ignored for not wanting to.
In a nutshell, feminism is all about making decisions for yourself. Everybody should have the freedom to live their life beyond the boundaries of traditional masculinity and what it means to be a woman. Men should no longer feel the pressure to make the first move or be the sole bread winner. Women should no longer have to decide between having a family or a career and so on. If you're happy doing these things then that's great but you shouldn't make somebody feel bad for not wanting to and vice versa. Feminism isn't all about not wanting to be a housewife and taking a man's name, it's simply about having the choice not to as well.
A big part of feminism for me is challenging this very misconception. A lot of people feel intimated by feminists and we are often branded as extreme. Just like there is more than one way to be a man or woman, you can identify as a feminist without conforming to a specific brand of feminism as well.
Feminism is an inclusive movement and this is just one of many things we are fighting to change. If you believe both men and women should be treated as equals and should be able live freely outside of gender stereotypes then you're a feminist. It's not a dirty word and it's about time we stopped treating it like one.
Image via Who Needs Feminism?