Firstly, thank you for asking me this question. I appreciate you for allowing me to express my opinion on something I feel incredibly passionate about.
Before getting into the reason for the negative perception of feminism that we see today, it is first important to define it. One of my favorite feminist academics, Bell Hooks defines feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” What you’ll notice in this definition is that there isn’t a mention of culture, race, demographic, socio economics or even gender. Sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression are vices of society that affect men and women alike. History has shown us however, that there has been an intentional disenfranchisement for certain demographics of people. Women are one such demographic. Feminism is the movement to liberate sexist oppression and to establish a sense of equality with in the realm of gender issues.
To now answer your question, the demonization of feminism in recent years has been credited to the misinterpretation of the definition of it. I would say that it often isn’t even a misinterpretation, but an incorrect definition clouded by biases, stereotypes and ignorance. Firstly, “equality” is a relative term. Equality differs from culture to culture, religion to religion etc. Like I said initially, feminism is all inclusive, therefore pure feminism should be sensitive and accommodating to all situations. So when anyone of a certain background rejects feminism, it could possibly be because they’ve been fed the demonized version of feminism that was hijacked by extremists who exclude others from the movement.
Secondly, whenever I’ve asked someone why they feel so passionately against feminism, usually the answer I get is that they feel that feminism is too extreme and doesn’t make any sense. These people that host such seemingly strong views against the movement, haven’t even studied feminist works in depth (99% of the time!). Not only with feminism, but in all studies and practices, there must be a thorough understanding of the basis of your counter argument. At least know the definition of feminism before formulating a solid opinion against it. Otherwise, your opinion is seeded in mere ignorance. This ignorance is rooted in fear of what empowering a demographic of people may bring.
Feminism is scary, in all honesty. Feminism is a threat to the status quo of society and that is why both men and women continue to discredit and demonize it. Feminism tells us that we are important and that we are societal equals (whether “we” be male or female). Conveying this type of message is a form of empowerment that works to fight gender oppression which is a problem for the oligarchical society that we live in. That is a problem.
Let me know if you have anymore questions, I’d be more than ecstatic to answer them.