Okay, so the 'F' word has been culturally very prominent in 2017 and I think it's time to have a quick chat about it. I say this because when we discuss feminism, there is still a heavy backlash. You see it all across social media:
'You think you need feminism? You try looking at third world countries.... it's bad for women there so you shouldn't complain'
'I don't like feminism. I believe in equality for everyone'
'But what about issues facing MEN?'
'Yeah, I don't really like feminism because I think there are negative connotations about the word, so I've never really associated myself with it because people take it to the extreme'
'I don't support feminism because I'm a woman and have never experienced gender bias or sexism'
I shouldn't feel at all anxious at times to state that I'm a feminist, but so many of us do. Being a feminist seems natural, even necessary. Why wouldn't I support gender equality? Why wouldn't I want everyone to have the same rights? Same freedoms? Same opportunities? Same quality of life? Many people out there are opposed to the notion of feminism simply because they do not know what it is. Misinformation on the matter is a huge issue.
So let's straighten this out:
Feminism, noun, the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of equality of the sexes.
Did you catch that? Feminism is about gender equality. It's about everyone being equal. Feminism is often confused with misandry. Misandry is defined as dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men (i.e. the male sex). If you think that feminism and misandry are the same thing then I'm sorry but you are mistaken. Also, feminism focuses on pulling up people regardless of their gender identity. Feminism is about calling out and ameliorating issues that men face in modern society too.
But from the distance I hear the cry of "Why be a feminist? That focuses on women. I'm a better person because I believe in supporting everyone. Isn't it better to be a humanist?"
Humanism is about empathising with human beings collectively and as individuals and that's great. Humans are great. Well, some are a bit rubbish, but as a species we're not that bad. Feminists want gender equality. They want all people to be treated fairly and equally. The reason it's called feminism is because women have historically been ranked lower than men. There have been certain injustices women have had to face whereas men have not. Women are still facing sociocultural issues that men do not have to face. This is called sexism. I can assume this is a word that you've heard.
I've encountered plenty of people who say "Well I'm a woman and men have never treated me badly so sexism can't be that bad, can it?"
How lucky for you to have never encountered sexism. You must live in a wonderful little bubble of joy. I can tell you now that not everyone has your experiences. Just because you've not experienced sexism doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Just because you've not been murdered doesn't mean that murder doesn't happen every damn day. Your experiences, or lack of them, do not undermine the experiences of other people and in 2017 it's so important that we support people and listen to their stories.
- Are you a feminist?
- Do you believe that men and women should be treated equally?
- Do you feel that people should be held back, discriminated against or treated unfairly due to their sex/gender identity?
If you said yes to any of these questions then congratulations, you're a feminist!
If you said no... Are there women in your life? Are you a woman? Why don't you respect them/yourelf? Do you want women to be seen as lesser beings? Are you comfortable explaining to the women in your life why they deserve to be treated differently and have less access to things men are entitled to?
Oh, of course I'm expecting anti feminist comments online for this article. There's an old saying: "The comments on an article about feminism justifies feminism."
So if you were hoping to leave some comment against this article or contact me to argue against feminism, it's probable that you're part of the problem.
If you believe in equality, feminism is about pulling everyone up and providing equal opportunities in our society. Feminism is not a dirty word, it is a necessary fight. If you really feel against feminism, I just ask one thing of you: listen to the people fighting for it. Listen to their experiences. Listen to their concerns. Sure, some people may take things to an extreme. Some people may say things that you don't like. However, if people everywhere are discussing issues relating to feminism and you feel against it, I would caution you to just ask yourself why you're so afraid of feminism in the first place.