2014 Feminism: Are We Done With the Bra-Burning Perception?

By Lauren Young on December 30, 2013

If this is what you considered as feminism in 2013, you may need to rethink what you consider feminism.
Photo via okmagazine.com

I was a first semester freshman at Radford University when I signed up for a Women in the World: Introduction to Women Studies class, a class typically devoted to the upperclassman due to its allegedly mature and difficult-to-comprehend material (a ridiculous concept I’ll later dissect). My male friend smirked when I told him I was taking it, and of course the shameful phrase, “where is the men’s studies class?” was actually uttered from the mouth of a middle-aged man. Because yes, men like this have managed to surpass Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest without swallowing their own foot. It’s 2014–it’s time for the men, and most certainly the women, to accurately understand the fundamentals of feminism and not the cartoonish lies spread by bromantic comedies and decrepit white men with cheap dentures.

1. It’s 2014, the bra-burning thing never happened. As much as you’d like it to, it didn’t. This lie points back to a 1968 radical feminist rally picketing a Miss America beauty pageant. In an attempt to objectify the absurdity of beauty pageants, the crowd dumped various cosmetics, high heels, girdles, and of course, bras, into a “freedom trash can” to exhibit a physical rejection of Hollywood-ized beauty and submissiveness. While the event was fueled by outrage and revulsion, it was not by gasoline and a match.

2. It’s called feminism and not equalism for a reason. Because, did you know, feminism is about women? That’s right, men. Feminism is about empowering the female voice and experience, men excluded. Although many issues pertain to ones that victimize men (rape, pedophilia, gender roles) these issues are defined by patriarchal values and traditional mindsets, all of which stem from a male-dominated society that stresses emotionless men trained to think with their phallic regions and not their brains.

3. Some women shave, others don’t. Get over it. If you’re so concerned with whether or not a woman shaves, try dragging a blade across your ape-like legs for a change and count the days it takes for you not keep up with the practice. Feminism praises body positivity, and for some reason that elicits a negative response from the men that demand shaven armpits but leave their own looking like Tarzan’s. That is a double standard, my friend.  Some feminists shave, some don’t. Some people like broccoli, others don’t. Shocking how people have their own personal perspectives and values, huh?

In 2013, Rush Limbaugh stated “The purpose of a kid is to occupy a woman so that the husband can run around and do whatever he wants,” a phrase ancient enough to live in Beaver Cleaver’s household.
Photo via Queerty.com

4. Sexism doesn’t exist in America though, right? Only in underprivileged countries where the dominate race is non-white and female mutilations are prominent? Wrong. In a country where men control the uteruses of women and complain about how they can’t beat their wives to a bloody pulp I would venture to say that there’s something very wrong with the perception of females in this society. Continuously marketed as pieces of meat for the male gaze, women are degraded to objects in fast food commercials and PETA campaigns and then are harassed and raped on streets and in their own homes. “Boys will be boys” is an excuse, not a cute phrase to excuse misbehavior and violence.

The 2013 popularity of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s street art addressed gender harassment issues by speaking directly to male offenders.
Photo via ihollaback.org

5. Feminists do not ignore the cries of male abuse victims. Domestic violence is an issue that does not discriminate based on gender, but there is an overwhelmingly large number of women subjected to violence more so than men with over 84% of spouse abuse victims being female. While that leaves a chunk of men being abused by their wives, this poses another important issue in feminism that raises the question of what this society is teaching males regarding dominance and subservience. Because females are more apt to report domestic abuse as opposed to men, this points toward another issue in which men are taught to be the dominant gender; thus, when a woman abuses them they are either too afraid or embarrassed to report the crime. So no, feminism does not exclude men from domestic abuse, but it does shine a light on the patriarchal values it teaches men and how it impacts the way they view their egos and emotions.

And here’s the thing: feminism is not too mature of a subject for ANY age level and its concepts are far from difficult to comprehend. To the conservative and bigoted mind, feminism is an intricate web of misandrist ideals and unshaven armpits. In reality, it is female empowerment in a patriarchal world defined by aesthetics and traditional gender roles.

If your college happens to offer a women studies or feminism class, I suggest taking it and producing your own opinions based off of factual ideas and events. In a society glazed with subtle misogyny and blatant sexism, it’s important to explore the vast ideologies of liberal and radical feminism and how they apply to your life as a college student and human being. After being force-fed the same wrong material for years and years, its hard to shove away the hand that’s feeding you and question the beliefs you’re eating up, and that’s why 2014 is a turning point in correctly understanding feminism and its differentiation from Rush Limbaugh-esque remarks and Robin Thicke’s rape-justifying lyrics to the heroism of Malala Yousafzai and the morality of Wendy Davis.

So, to bring in the new year that’s sure to come with misogynist movies and ridiculous remarks, know what the word feminism means before you crack another hilarious kitchen joke. But since you’re already telling jokes as old as your 1960s-style kitchen, why don’t you go ahead and make me a sandwich while you’re at it.

Lauren is a current junior studying philosophy and psychology at Binghamton University. When she's not busy drinking coffee, she's probably busy making some.

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