Have you ever read something you think is so outrageously wrong you have to correct it? Well, that feeling overwhelmed me when I read fellow Huffington Post UK blogger Jack Fletcher's post entitled Feminism Is For Men Too.
I'm now going to spend the next few hundred words explaining and defending why not agreeing with feminism is not the same as being a misogynist.
There are, as Fletcher rightly says, several misconceptions about feminism. Sadly, he seems to have bought into the main one: "feminism is about gender equality". Anyone who has ever talked to a feminist for any length of time will know that this is not true. Feminism consistently sees the world from the perspective of women, and occasionally adding the phrase 'and men have problems too' in order to create a smokescreen of gender equality.
Yes, I know what the Oxford dictionary defines feminism as, and several other dictionaries to boot. While you're there, why not look up their definition of matriarchy? But the definition is rarely, if ever, what feminists practice. How can we know what feminists practice? Well, let's take a short trip to Tumblr, which is a hive for feminists and people with other extreme opinions (but that's a subject for another time). What happens if you search the biggest feminist network with the words 'men are'?
Oh. And you know those women that decry the obsession with women's bodies rather than having them seen for their personalities?
Oh dear. The patriarchy (a mythical hierarchy used by feminists to blame their problems on when they can't find an actual cause) seems to have let that one slip by them. They're probably busy telling you what tissues to use.
What about male feminists, then, like the aforementioned Jack Fletcher, who warns his female counterparts to "be wary not to exile men from the socialist movement by referring to feminism as just for women"? Well, he should just feel lucky that they have permitted him to be a feminist. One woman detailed the correct way to be a male feminist: "they don't try to take the lead in feminism... they don't argue with women... they don't know what it's like to be in our position so don't act like you do... understand that we have every fucking right to complain about men". Furthermore, "men shouldn't be offended or get defensive when women generalize", but men must be "all-include to all types of women and those who identify as women, not just 'those who have a vagina'".
The feminist generalisations that men are not allowed to defend themselves from include, but are not limited to: thinking a home invite is sexual consent, being rape apologists, seeing women as nothing more than vaginas, having perfectly fitted shirts, always sending women creepy messages, soap insecurity, cowardice, wanting to hit women, recruiting young, vulnerable women, dominance, disregarding boundaries, being glorified, having some internalised poisonous ideas, consistently taking inappropriate photos, being the patriarchy, snatching away things women love and s**ting on them, being rapists, being child molesters, and "backfiring hurf durf buzzwords".
Feminism is littered with hypocrisy and nonsense like this. Perhaps that's why, according to a YouGov poll I voted on at the end of last year, most Brits would not associate as a feminist, yet believe men and women should "have equal rights rights and status in society, and be treated equally in every way". (It worries me that 11% of people think the sexes should not be equal in every way, but we can talk about that some other time.)
This shows that most people are, on the whole, both egalitarian and antifeminist. Why, then, are feminists given such an overly prominent position in the media? It is often said by feminists that there is a lack of female representation in the media, but this isn't true; one of this country's most popular news websites dedicates an entire section to feminism, another had dedicated on average one article per day on feminism in 2014, and protests from the likes of Femen and petitions such as No More Page Three gather heaps of media attention.
So what should we do to combat feminism and stop it from spreading misrepresentation and intolerance? Fletcher suggests feminism needs "a brand change...to 'genderism'". As well as sounding ridiculous, to think the problems with feminism can be solved with a brand change is naïve at best. We need to leave feminism behind, and leave its hypocritical crusaders with it. We need something different.
I propose to you: humanism. The idea that we should care for and respect one another equally because we are all humans has been around for centuries, long before feminism burst onto the scene and chained itself to the scene's railings while trying to set itself on fire. There's nothing misleading about the term humanism in the same way that there is about feminism. It doesn't just try to break down the barrier between genders, but more importantly, the barrier between races, sexualities, social classes, and religions, which in their own ways are also some of the reasons total gender equality has not yet been reached.
Will humanism 'catch on' with current feminists? I doubt it. Most feminists aren't feminists because they care about other people in the world; they're feminists born out of anger and/or hatred, often felt due to a personal experience, but that doesn't justify taking out that anger and hatred on others. I can hope, though, in my more optimistic moments. At least I have put the idea out there, and let people know that feminism isn't for men too, and it's no good for women either.