One of my earliest posts on this blog was asking whether or not I was a misogynist. Looking back on it now, that was kind of a stupid post, mainly because of one of the variations on that old axiom: “if you have to ask, then you probably are”. The post itself wasn’t so great, either. I basically went into a long list of things that I wondered about… were these examples of problematic thinking?… and tried to justify why I thought that way (mansplaining).
Luckily for me, at least one feminist I know (she’s the only comment on the post) was really nice about it and noted that it wasn’t problematic thinking.
So here’s where I’ve progressed to since then:
A little while back, someone told me that Feminism is wrong because of “equality” or something like that. Because of the setting and the amount of alcohol I had in my system, I had no interest in starting a debate that everyone else who was there would very likely find boring. But it did get me thinking, and now I’m writing this blog.
My thoughts are that it really, truly bothers me how many people are blind to the distinct lack of gender equality these days. It’s amazing how many really do think that women have somehow achieved equality with men. I want to grab these people and shake them:
“Do you watch the news?!? Do you use Google?!? Are you even aware of all the shit that goes on around us every single day?”
I don’t understand how anyone can honestly spend five minutes taking a look around not the whole world, but just the US, and try to say that women have achieved total equality and Feminism is no longer needed. These same people will then go on to confuse Feminism with misandry (this is also gender bigotry, but towards men) and other things like that. We hear about “Feminazis” and worse.
Answer me this: why is it okay to define Feminism by its radicals? With one exception (atheism), we do not define any other ideology or movement by its radicals. If a woman declares herself a Feminist, people will automatically assume this means she’s a man-hating, lesbian or asexual bitch. And if a man dares even try to show support for Feminism, he’s viewed as having had his balls chopped off by these so-called “misandrists”.
When somebody declares themselves to be a Catholic, we don’t automatically assume that they condone pedophilia. When somebody declares themselves to be a Muslim, we don’t automatically assume that they supported the attacks on September 11, 2001. When somebody declares themselves to be a Jew, we don’t automatically assume they think it’s a good idea to throw shit at women who dare pray at the Kotel in anything less than the Jewish equivalent of the Hijab.
When somebody declares themselves to be a liberal, we don’t (despite what Fox News would have you believe) automatically assume that they think the US should be more like the old USSR. When somebody declares themselves to be a Libertarian, we don’t automatically assume that they condone child-trafficking so long as it makes money. When somebody is not white, we don’t automatically assume that they hate white people. When somebody is a homosexual, we don’t (despite what Fox News would have you believe) automatically assume that they hate straight people and want to take away straight marriage/sex.
So why is it okay to make these assumptions with Feminists and their allies? Why does Feminism have to be, within pop culture, an ideology that, for whatever reason, says that women should make men their slaves?
I don’t understand at all how a woman could be against Feminism. It baffles me, honestly. But with men (seeing as I’m one myself), it seems to me as if they’re afraid they’ll lose some sort of power or something with Feminism. As if Feminism isn’t about gender equality, but instead about subjugation of men. And men can get really angry if you try to point out when they engage in misogynistic behavior or use misogynistic words (context means nothing because intent is not magic; history gives a word its meaning; if it has a bigoted history, then maybe it’s better that it’s not used at all).
When reports are released about how women suffer sexual objectification, and sometimes assault, on city streets, men, and some women, will respond by saying that they should “just ignore it”. When a woman goes online and, in the middle of a very long post and video about how great a conference was, takes a side detour to note how she doesn’t like being invited up to somebody’s room at 4:00 AM in a hotel elevator in a foreign country after she’s just explained how she’s tired and wants to go to bed, men (and some women) flip out and call her a man-hating prude and worse. When some women point out that they have been made to feel uncomfortable at conferences due to being objectified, men (and some women) accuse these women of stirring up trouble and controversy where none exists.
If a woman asks not to be objectified, why is it okay to ignore her? Aren’t women worth more than their looks? What about their intellect? What about their thoughts? What about their ideas? What about their innovations? Why do women have to be seen as sexual objects? Why can’t they be seen as human beings? And why does being considered a “man” mean I have to be a misogynist?
I believe Feminism is still important because when I look around, I still see women being held down. When I look around, I see that the equality they have worked so hard for has not yet been reached. They’ve come a long way, but they are nowhere near close to achieving it.
I’m going to now end this blog with some evidence for why I believe that Feminism is still important:
In the Secular/Atheist/Skeptic community:
Sexual Boundaries at The Amazing Meeting – Facebook Discussion
Now, the next time you decide to go telling someone what Feminism’s “all about”, why don’t you first take a look around the Feminism 101 blog.
You know… actually learn something about Feminism before, in your arrogance, you give away your ignorance.
I’m still learning, myself. And it isn’t easy. I sometimes have to think, and do research, to understand why something’s wrong. Hell… I only just stumbled onto why the word “bitch” simply is not good to use, regardless of the context. Now that I understand it (has to do with the history of the word’s use as a pejorative towards, basically, women with opinions), I feel really stupid for not getting it sooner, but that’s what overcoming privilege is all about: opening your eyes to the actually plainly obvious. I’m a white, straight, male. The only way I could be more privileged is if I were a Christian. I didn’t grow up Christian, and I’m an atheist now, so I get to be a little bit of a minority. But I’m still awash in a ridiculous amount of privilege, and recognizing that is the first step to opening your eyes and realizing that we don’t live in Utopia Equalitia and women (and non-whites, and atheists, and homosexuals, and more) are still fighting for equality.
And we have a long way to go before we come close to achieving it.