My friend asked me a simple question: “Educate me on feminism. What’s it mean to you?”
Some women may be completely irked by the mere idea that he wouldn’t really know what feminism is. How could he not? It’s everywhere!
It strikes me as a reasonable question, not only because feminism has been distorted by the media, but because feminism means different things to different people.
Two or so years ago, I joined the feminist subreddit. One of the first posts I commented on was the topic, “Why does Reddit hate feminists?”
And I gave an answer very similar to what you say about how the media portrays feminists as “man hating, pink pussy hat wearing women who want to burn their bras and throw away their makeup while marching down the street yelling at people.”
Essentially all I said was that, like with any group, it is the loudest voices that command the most attention. So it’s the feminist extremists that people see, that the media reports on, and it gives a distorted view that all or even most feminists are like this, when in reality the extremists are just a very vocal minority.
I thought this was a very reasonable statement to make, but when I arrived back at my computer a few hours later, I had about 25 comments from different users which all amounted to the same thing — the denial that there is such a thing as feminist extremists. Further, I had a notification from a moderator (a male) that I had been banned from the community.
There are many different flavors of feminism, just as there are many different flavors of Christianity, for example. Within any belief system that is as broad of an umbrella as feminism (or Christianity), you’re going to have a very diverse set of opinions. And you’re going to have your share of wackadoos, and in my experience the wackadoos always want to dominate the conversation.
All of which is just to say that I’m glad you responded to your friend’s question the way you did. Because even someone who is familiar with what feminism stands for in general will not know what feminism means to you personally or what your own beliefs about it are.