How Traditional Feminism is Oppressive to Women

March 4, 2011 by Jennifer Belleau  
Published in Women

Feminism in the traditional sense restricts women more than it should–why a true feminist will change these rules.

I am a feminist.  I’m not afraid to say it.  Many women see “feminist” with a certain stigma.  A feminist, to them, is almost synonymous to a lesbian.  Feminists aren’t pretty, they don’t want to get married, they don’t want to have children, they don’t wear high heels.  At least that is how many women see it.

That is not my view of what a feminist is.  A feminist is just someone who believes women should be given the same treatment in society as men, and that expressing feminininity is different for each person.  A woman is allowed to be a stay-at-home mom, if that’s what she enjoys.  A woman is also allowed to work, and not have children. 

However, the way some feminists portray their ideas is a bit restricting to women.  Referring to high heels and mini skirts as forms of male oppression gives girls the sense that they can choose being beautiful, or they can choose being strong.  They can choose being girly, or they can choose being free.  What I’m saying is that you can choose both.

People are surprised to learn that I identify as a feminist.  I loved dolls as a child, and as an adult I love makeup, hair dye, wearing dresses, and everything girly.  But at the same time, I don’t believe all women must act this way, and that is what makes me a feminist.  I believe a woman can express herself however she wants, as long as it isn’t harmful to others (such as violent demonstrations).  A woman in a flannel top and baggy jeans is still a woman, and a woman in a dress and heels is a woman too.  In fact, the concept that women need to “cover up”, which feminists sometimes use to describe women who dress “for men’s sake”, is a similar value in many anti-feminist religions that force women to wear conservative clothes as to not provoke male attention.

Some people who hear my argument say, “Aren’t you aware that women just wear heels/dresses/makeup/what have you to attract men?”  Yes, that’s true.  It might not be the only reason, but it’s a main reason.  And if you are heterosexual, what’s wrong with attracting men?  In order to be a feminist, you don’t have to eliminate dating from your life.  Besides, men groom themselves in many similar ways to attract women.  They wear flattering, tighter shirts and unbutton the top button.  They wear jeans that flatter their butts.  Men also spend a great amount of time grooming their hair and beards–not to mention, men probably work out to attract women a lot more than women work out to attract men.  Wanting to attract the opposite sex is not exclusive to women.

Feminism as a theory is not oppressive to women, obviously.  But a lot of feminists today have become too radical and therefore they alienate younger women, who figure that all feminists are radically man-hating (which isn’t the case).  A man can be a feminist, actually, if he believes women should have equal treatment in society.  The concept of eliminating all girly things from your life, and rejecting the love of men, won’t bring many followers.  It will only lead more women to refer to themselves as “anti-feminists”, which a striking number of women do today.

Liked it
6 Responses to “How Traditional Feminism is Oppressive to Women”
  1. Sravan s Says:

    That was a new information for me .Thanks

  2. duck01 Says:

    I agree with you. Some feminists are way too radical and give feminism a bad name.

  3. TrevorS Says:

    Well written article that presents the case very succinctly. Being feminist does not mean losing your feminism. Being a person who has the same opportunities as all other people is what counts. Somehow this turns back on itself though, especially in the workplace, where women are faced with the dilemma of whether promotions of women are to meet gender targets, or for merit.
    Good and thought-provoking article. For the record, when I was in the position to employ people, I far rather chose women, because they were better workers, and more focussed than men.

  4. faheemmalik Says:


  5. danise Says:

    wow!this is interesting!!

  6. MissAthena Says:

    Well done article! As a feminist who resisted for a while when younger because I though I didn’t fit the “feminist mold” I completely agree with what you said.

Tell us what you're thinking...

comments powered by Disqus