10 Things That Are Supposed To Be Empowering To Girls That Actually Aren’t At All

You have probably noticed that over the past few years, feminism has adapted from just a movement for gender equality to more of a trend. This is both good and bad. It’s good because it gives feminism more awareness, encourages some much-needed change, and brings up important discussions. With celebrities backing the cause, it becomes more “cool,” which is definitely a positive. Unfortunately, the extreme popularity of feminism can also be a negative because, at some point, the messages begins to become warped. Feminism has, in many ways, become something sellable (think graphic tees that say ‘”FEMINIST” FOR $30). And because it’s become sellable, many people look for ways to make everything seem empowering – even if it isn’t.

That’s one of the reasons there are so many things out there that are supposed to be empowering, and then end up coming up short. It’s not the only reason, of course – there are some extreme feminists out there who take the message a bit too far and end up hurting the cause. And, obviously, not everyone’s ideas of empowering are the same. What makes one girl feel confident in her womanhood might make another girl angry. One Ask Reddit thread explores this idea by asking women what they think is sold as feminist often, even though it misses the mark. Here are some examples of things that are supposed to be empowering that actually aren’t at all… according to some people, at least. You might not agree with them all, and that’s okay – I don’t either!


User Blitzkriek says, "Periods. They're not fantastic. They're not empowering. You f****** bleed and it f****** hurts. End of story."

A lot of people try to make periods seem empowering and special, and I get it, to a certain degree. Periods have long been seen as disgusting and shameful, and they shouldn't be seen as something you have to be embarrassed about. I think it's good that it's become so acceptable to talk about periods in public! But I also don't think that you have to be super proud of your period to be a feminist or a "proper" woman, and some groups make it seem that way. I'm all for not being ashamed of your period, but stuff like free bleeding? Not for me - and I don't exactly find it necessary. But that's just me!

Source: iStock

Nude Photos

User _ILoveMyRealName_ says, "Promiscuity and being nude in magazine covers or social media platforms for the whole world to see . I understand how freeing it must feel but I don't buy into the whole women empowerment intent."

I get the meaning behind this. Taking and posting your own nude or nearly nude selfies can be empowering because it's you taking control of your own sexuality and owning it. I think that's great! I have absolutely nothing against women who feel comfortable doing that. But I can also see how, sometimes, these images can be sold as empowering even though they're really just a ploy for attention (this is mainly in regards to celebrities), because that's just playing into the sexist gender roles of society.

Having A Lot Of Casual Sex

User MinimalistWriter says, "Sleeping around and not feeling things. People don't say this explicitly, but it's heavily implied. I'm all for [not] shaming women for sex and anti-slut campaigns, but vulnerable girls get confused and think that means it's not emotionally and physically risky to be cavalier about sex."

So, I don't find the act of casual sex to have anything wrong with it. You do you! But I can see what this girl is saying. There's a big difference between owning your sexuality and being reckless about sex. You can do it with whoever you want, whenever you want, but you should still be responsible - I think that's the point here. Also, you don't HAVE to enjoy casual sex to be classified as a feminist.

Source: iStock

Being Overweight

User morganKxoxo says, "Being severely overweight. That's not empowering, love yourself yes, but love yourself enough to care for your body and health."

There's a huge body acceptance movement right now that is so wonderful. It's amazing to see women of all shapes and sizes flaunting their bodies and feeling good in their own skin. I'm all for it! However, I agree with this user - once you're at a point where you're legitimately unhealthy, it's not okay. Taking care of yourself is important.

Source: iStock

Bringing Men Down

User strawberryrains says, "I hate when some feminists turn feminism into a tool to bring men down rather than just bringing women up to equality. That kind of feminism is not empowering, it's wrong. Both men and women are important."

Agreed. I know a lot of feminists who always say things like, "Men are the worst" and "Ugh, men suck." I get it. I would be a hypocrite if I acted like I've never said, "I hate boys!" before. But bringing men down as a group because of the actions of one, or a few, men is not cool. I don't really respect that. I don't find it empowering to act like every man sucks because you're a feminist - I think it sounds ignorant.

Wearing Makeup

User Crampssuck says, "Makeup. Do it if you wanna, but it is in no way empowering. We've been conditioned into thinking we need it. At the end of the day when you buy make up your money ends up going to a rich dude, makes them even richer and helps them continue their business where they prey on women's insecurities about their appearance and even sometimes create those insecurities in the first place."

Hmmm. I definitely know a lot of women who feel this way about makeup, but personally? I love it! I also just think it's fun, and to me, it's not something that has to have a huge message behind it, if that makes sense.

Source: iStock

Sex Work

Crampssuck says, "Sex work. Sure the middle class white college kid whose parents support her and she just wants extra money so she can go on overseas holidays might look like she's having a good time. But that is the exception. The overwhelming majority of women in 'sex work' are women who had no other choice than sell sex or end up homeless, have their child starve etc. There's nothing empowering about making yourself sexually available to people that disgust you in order to be able to put food on your table. There nothing empowering about doing exactly what men want. And before someone tries to go off on me. I have the utmost respect for women who are doing what they need to do to survive. My issue is with the people (usually those who haven't even done sex work or if they have were the kind of exception I mentioned earlier) who act as if it's some revolutionary act against the patriarchy when in reality it's playing into the patriarchal idea that men can purchase women's bodies and consent."

I have to agree with this. We published an essay from a sex worker who finds it empowering, and so I've seen both sides of the story. But I agree with what this user said - I don't find it to be a good thing, most of the time.

Source: iStock

The Simple Act Of Being A Woman

User abqkat says, "The whole 'any choice you make is empowering.' Nah, I simply don't believe that to be true, some choices are risky and harmful and not empowering."

One thing that has happened since feminism has become popular is that literally everything any woman does is praised (by certain crowds). The idea that anything you want to do is empowering is silly - and downplays the things that are actually empowering.

Source: iStock

Loving Every Inch Of Yourself

User flawlessqueen says, "Thinking that everything and every part of you has to be beautiful. It's okay to not like aspects of yourself or to think of them as [not pretty]. Accepting yourself as imperfect is a lot more radical than labeling everything as beautiful."

Now, obviously, I find confidence to be empowering. But I agree here - it's not necessary to find every single inch of yourself gorgeous. It's also unrealistic to make girls feel like they need to think that!

Source: iStock

Being Single

User sirenrenn says, "Being single. All my single friends tell me how empowered they are for 'not needing a man.' I am a hard worker. I take care of myself. I make my own decisions. I am a strong young woman. But I also love to love and I love to be loved. I can live my life with my head up and I can take problems on without fear but coming home and having someone who I can give myself to completely is an amazing feeling and I highly enjoy having someone at my side. Yea sometimes I need him with me to make me feel safe and sometimes I look for his reassurance on things but you're allowed to need people and you're allowed to have someone fill in the missing pieces that you don't have."

I like this response because I think it's an example of certain people making everything seem empowering - and, like I said, doing that kind of downplays the important stuff.

Source: iStock

Which one of these things do you disagree with? What did we forget to include here? Tell us in the comments.

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