Feminism | The Truth

“I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?” – Ellen Page

This is going back a bit for me, a couple of my first posts were to do with International Women’s Day and Inspirational Fictional Female Characters.

A few days ago I was talking to some friends and the subject of feminism came up, it was a very enjoyable discussion – possibly because we all had the same views. But it got me thinking so I decided to research it further and I was shocked at the amount of people against feminism for one reason or another.

This is different from what I’ve been doing lately however, it’s something I feel quite strongly and passionately about, so in this post I want us to explore the truth.

Though before we explore the truth, let’s expel some myths.

Feminists Hate Men
I’m tackling this first because it’s one of the most popular arguments against feminism. The above is not true. Sure, there are some women who hate men however, there are also some men who hate women.
Being a feminist does not automatically mean you hate men. In fact today there are more and more women who are trying to include men and advocate for their rights as well as women’s.

Of course, it doesn’t help when you see quotes, such as:

“The feminist movement is just not compatible with happiness. They are not for equality; they want to kill everything masculine” – Phyllis Schlafly

One of my main issues here is that she is against feminism yet was a researcher for the American Enterprise Unit in 1946 and ran for Congress in 1952, now I must admit I’m not the most knowledgable about American politics however, if you ask me those are two highly regarded positions to even attempt for any person. Would this have been possible for her without feminism?

The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex”
This amendment was proposed in 1878, approved just over 40 years later in 1919 and then ratified in 1920. Phyllis Schlafly was born 4 years later.

Women suffrage, the right for women to vote, was fought over for decades. Before that a woman in her position would have been thought of as ludicrous, surely? So surely she, more than anyone, should understand the meaning of the feminist movement and how valuable it is, for where would she be without it?

Another quote which pops up quite frequently is:

“Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians” – Pat Robertson

Well, that escalated quickly.

Someone please, get this man a dictionary! I read this quote and all I wanted to do was meet this man, highlight every word and one-by-one request he spell out the apparent connection. Pat Robertson walk me through your logic, give me a map or something, because honestly I’m lost.

I don’t think I need to say it, but I will:
Feminism does not mean you want to (or have to) leave your husband.
Feminism does not mean you want to kill your child (or any child!)
Feminism does not mean you have to practice witchcraft (and if some do then that’s their belief and if they’re not hurting anyone then leave them to it)
“Feminists want to destroy capitalism” Hmm, nope.
“…and become lesbians” – there are feminists who are homosexual, there are feminists who are heterosexual, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual. However, that is not something you ‘become’ and is not based on any belief.

Feminists are aggressive / Feminists can’t take a joke
If someone does not find something funny, or if they come across as aggressive, that is their personality and should not be associated with every person who has the same belief.

If someone is quite passionate about something then they can come across as aggressive. I hate to say it, but the label is usually associated with women – why? Why can a woman not be passionate? Why does she have to be labeled aggressive? A simple change of wording can alter an entire outlook.

I’ve seen jokes which a lot of women take offence to, whether it be a generalisation or something similar. Sometimes I think ‘oh damn, I sometimes do that’ and have a giggle, but a lot of people take offence. Do what I do – roll your eyes and move on. Unless they insult you directly, in which case I encourage you to stand up for yourself, of course it’s usually attention seeking and so can get out of hand. Use your judgement.

In turn there are some things where I’ve seen feminists depicted as something that is totally twisted and unjustified, it makes me mad but once again I roll my eyes and move on.
Why? Because the poster is looking for attention by putting something completely outlandish on their page and I’m not going to indulge them. Or it’s something they truly believe, in which case anything I say will go through one ear and out the other. You can’t have a rational debate with someone so irrational and stuck in their ways. I’m not saying don’t every try, I’m saying pick your battles. A random attention-seeking post on Facebook isn’t high on my list of priorities.

Feminism Hurts Men / Feminism is just for Women
Why does it have to be either men or women? Why can’t men and women fight for each other, advocate for each other without feeling pressures from either side telling them it’s somehow ‘wrong’ or that it will hurt their own cause in the long run?

That’s wrong. Surely we are all fighting for the same cause? For men and women to have the same, equal rights. For women surely have the right to be paid equal to their male counterpart in their workplace however, there is still a gap. Just like men have the right to take as much time paid paternity leave as women from their workplace however, women are allowed up to 12 months maternity whereas men are only allowed up to 2 weeks paternity.

These are just two of countless ways that men and women can support each other. If we’re constantly fighting one another then the chances of change are small to say the least.

As I said earlier, many feminists want to advocate for the rights of men as well as women. This is becoming more and more common, and it makes sense! Feminists do not want to hurt men. That is not, has never been and never will be their goal. If, in the past, feminism has been viewed as something only for women, that is rapidly changing.

To be honest there are so many men who are more than happy to say that they are a feminist, for example: Daniel Radcliffe; Patrick Stewart; Mark Ruffalo; Daniel Craig, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ryan Gosling, Harry Styles – the list goes on.

So why is it that at a time where so many men are in favour of feminism, so many women are against it?

Women Against Feminism
We’ve covered a couple of myths, though there are so many more a lot of these myths are covered in why apparently a lot of women are against feminism.

I recently came across a Facebook group with this title and, I won’t lie, it baffled me. It says on their page that they are ‘voices against modern feminism and its toxic culture’ they state they’re not judging by it’s dictionary definition but by its actions.

The main themes for advocating against feminism are as follows:

It’s Anti-Male
We’ve covered this. Nowhere does it say that to be a feminist you have to hate men. Nowhere does it say that you can’t appreciate men and the work they do, that you have to undervalue them, that you have to bring them down in order to succeed. It’s intent is not to demoralise men. It does not mean you should disrespect men. It does not mean you want to ‘get rid of men’. 

It portrays women as victims
Let’s take a look at some of the definitions of ‘victim’:
“a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action”
“a person who is tricked or duped”
“a person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment”

Feminism has never harmed or killed anyone. There are some people who unfortunately have been through abuse, domestic or otherwise. It is an issue that both men and women face.

If a man is being, or has been, abused he should be able to report it without being ridiculed by the police.
If a woman is being, or has been, abused she should be able to report it without fear of judgement.
Men should be able to advocate against abuse without fear of ridicule by his peers.
Women should be able to advocate against abuse without fear it somehow means she is ‘shaming all men’

Feminists have not been ‘tricked’ or ‘duped’ into their beliefs. Feminists are not ‘helpless’ and least of all ‘passive’ in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment.

Women have already won the battle / Women already have equal rights / It is not an issue in ‘my’ life
Women already won the battle? Women all over the world have equal rights? You know that for sure?

I’m only asking because I’m fairly certain those statements are not true. Yes, women’s rights in a lot of countries has come a long, long way. Most women are now entitled to education, they are entitled to work, they are entitled to vote. They are entitled to many things, but there are still a lot of issues our countries face, not only in the pay gap but in politics, the treatment of women in general.

There are so many women in other countries who can’t speak out, who don’t have a voice and you – a person who has freedom of speech, a person who has rights – you’re telling me that those women are not entitled to the same thing? Because it’s not an issue in your life that automatically means it’s not your problem?

Plus, what about men? Yes men have many entitlements however, there is still the issue of the treatment of men who don’t identify with the ‘norms’ that society states they must live by. For example, why is it that in some social circles it is deemed wrong for a man to be a stay at home husband/father? Why is it still so unusual to see a man who is a nurse, and why do we have to specify ‘male-nurse’ when we don’t specify ‘female doctor’?

The aim is equal rights across the board for both men and women. It is something that society here, and around the world, has not yet achieved.

That battle you mentioned, it’s only just begun.

It means women have to act like men / It means women can’t be stay at home house-wives or stay at home mothers without being judged 

“It’s not about women acting like men. It’s about women acting like women and being successful” – Zooey Deschanel 

Being a feminist does not mean you have to act like a man. What does it mean to act like a man anyway? We’re going back to these societal pressures that both genders face on a daily basis.

Just to dispel any rumours, you can be a feminist and still wear dresses, skirts, high-heels. You can also not want to do any of those things. That is a personal choice. Do not put that on anyone else.

For me, feminism means that you have choice. It means that you have the choice to go out and build a career, it means you have the choice to be a housewife or stay at home mum. It is not about ridiculing anyone for those choices, no person should ever do that.

Last I checked, the definition of feminism has not changed since the 1800’s-1900’s when society first started using it. I wonder if these women are really against ‘feminism’ or if they’re actually against ‘radical feminism’, something that has been around for decades and is by no means ‘modern’. Plus masculinists have extremism, so is it really surprising that feminists have it too?

The important thing to remember is that not all men, women, masculinists, feminists believe the same thing. There are those who will advocate peacefully and those who resort to extreme ideologies.

For a woman to be against feminism, it is to say that you do not support the belief that men and women should have equal rights.
For a woman to be against feminism, it is a slap in the face to every man and woman who has ever fought for you to be able to live your life with the advantages and privileges to which you are now entitled.

The Truth
The truth is that, compared to the above, it’s actually rather simple.

“For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes”” – Emma Watson

I remember when I first heard about feminism, I think in my early teens. It wasn’t even a question. “It means you believe men and women should be equal?.. So, that means I’m a feminist. Cool.”

There was no question, no doubt in my mind. There was nothing about hating men, nothing about having to be or act a certain way or do certain things.

I am still me. I’ve evolved as I’ve grown up, sure. But my actions, beliefs, desires, ambitions are not defined by my being a feminist. They are defined by me and me alone.

I’ve used this in one of my other posts, but I love this quote so much I’m going to use it again.

“These days, however, I am much calmer – since I realised that it’s technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on women’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game – before going back to quick-liming the dunny. This is why those female columnists in the Daily Mail – giving daily wail against feminism – amuse me. They paid you £1,600 for that, dear, I think. And I bet it’s going in your bank account, and not your husband’s. The more women argue loudly, against feminism, the more they both prove it exists and that they enjoy its hard-won privileges.” – Caitlin Moran

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