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The F Word: A Photo Essay on the Misconceptions Surrounding Feminism

(T)he word has been thrown back and forth so rapidly and often in our society that it is practically impossible for it not to have picked up an emotional charge. The mere mention of the word can immediately put people in defence mode for a wide range of reasons, ready to justify their stance on any point on the spectrum of opinions on the movement. It is this instantaneous response that often stalls open conversations and perpetuates misconceptions around the movement.

What is feminism?

I would like you to take a moment to really consider the question. Do you know what feminism really is? Chances are when you heard it, or rather read it, there was an immediate emotional response. It was probably unintentional. It might have been positive, negative, or somewhere in between. However, there was definitely a response. The word is so often used in our society that it is practically impossible for it not to have picked up an emotional charge. The mere mention of the word can immediately put people on the defensive for a wide range of reasons. It is this instantaneous response that often stalls open conversations and perpetuates misconceptions around the feminist movement.

Feminism, by definition, is the social movement towards the equality of the genders that utilizes the advocacy for women’s rights as one of the main tools to achieve this goal. Over the years, feminism and feminists have amassed an arsenal of negative stereotypes and a generally bad rap as the movement has progressively become more outspoken and naturally acquired more opposition. In hopes of maintaining a sense of political correctness, many harbour internal doubts about feminists they are afraid to voice but then prevent them from wholly supporting the movement. If fact, many people support the idea of equality for all genders, but are hesitant to align themselves with the feminist movement due to these harmful misconceptions.

Inspired by a 2015 As/Is Buzzfeed video, entitled “I’m A Feminist, But I’m Not…”, I offered friends, family, and social media followers, who self-identity as feminists, the opportunity to addresses misconceptions they feel they or the overall movement face. Each respondent answered one of the following phrases:

I am a feminist, but I am not…

I am a feminist but…

I am a feminist and…

The photo responses below aim to address some of the stereotypes about feminists and feminism.

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