Why I Can’t Understand People Who Say They Aren’t Feminists

I am writing this on a public bus with enough vigor to arouse the attention of the man behind me, who just read the title of my page and outwardly snorted. I hope he is still reading what I’m writing, the nosey parker. Nice shirt, mate. It really accentuates your bald patch.

Ignorance breeds ignorance. It is an endless cycle. 

In no way is this cycle of ignorance in society more apparent than in the general fear and dislike of the concept of feminism and people who call themselves feminists. Even the word itself has such ugly connotations of hating men or being stuck up and difficult.

I am stuck up and difficult but that has nothing to do with me identifying as a feminist. It’s more to do with my ‘resting bitch’ face and general awkwardness. 

Feminism is not what many people think it is. Feminism is something that all ‘good’ people should support. No exceptions.

Why? Because feminism is not about hating men. It is not about wanting to rule the world in a giant female girl band. It is not about reversing the patriarchy and putting Beyonce in charge as the undisputed Queen of the World (although, now that I think about it, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea…).

It is about equality. 

To say that you are not a feminist or that you do not support the feminist movement is a subtle nod to misogyny. To stand away from the concept is to leave the gender imbalance in place and continue to allow women to be abused, objectified and victimised. 

A major reason that people do try to avoid being linked to the word ‘feminism’ is that it has become a ‘dirty’ word. No, not like butts and balls and boobies, or even like mud and grime and mould. It has become dirty in its connotations. It has lost its meaning in the abuse of the term by many people who don’t support the movement and by a small group within the feminist movement who really do embody the connotations the word now has. People don’t want to be seen as being part of it. 

To say that you are a feminist seems to invite people to roll their eyes at you, to patronise you or, in extreme cases, to call you a bitch or a ‘feminazi’ or even threaten you. 

Just a quick public service announcement to the people who do roll their eyes, patronise, insult and threaten people for their feminist views: fuck you. 

(Quick little detour from the road to a feminist education: I absolutely HATE the term ‘Feminazi’. Are you likening the movement for equality in all areas of society for all genders to the oppressive Nazi regime? Are you really doing that? Are you saying that a person saying that they support gender equality and equal rights is akin to the psychopath Adolf Hitler? Are you kidding me?)

A dislike of feminism is, in the most part, due to a complete ignorance born from a societal lack of education on what it really means to BE a feminist. 

A lot (though, of course, not all) of guys view feminism and feminists themselves with disdain and negativity because they don’t understand the concept behind it. They think that to invoke feminism is to say that all men suck and all women are saints.

Take, for example, this recent video on how the treatment of abuse differs depending on the gender of the perpetrator:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3PgH86OyEM

Reading the comments of this video, you see how misinformed people are with feminism.

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Feminism isn’t about throwing men under the metaphorical bus and calling them all bad guys. It also isn’t about saying that women are all saints who can do no wrong.

Feminism is about fighting for equality between sexes — not replacing the current patriarchy with a matriarchy.

Feminists are not ignorant. They do not think that all women can do no wrong and all men do nothing but. Rather, they are fighting for equality and do so from the perspective of the oppressed in a patriarchal society.

Feminists are fighting particularly against the gender roles in society. The very same gender roles that can entrap men as well.

They are not saying men are evil. They are saying that the society we are part of needs to change.

I understand that domestic violence is a horrible issue – but it is one that is less about gender and more about helping the victims and stopping the persecutors, regardless of their gender.

The views about feminism expressed my these commenters, and held by many more people, are straight up BS. To say that you don’t support feminism is to say that you think women should not have the same rights as men — it is to say that they should be second-class citizens and the ‘second sex’. I think, or at least hope, that a majority of society does not agree with this. I think that if more men understood feminism then there wouldn’t be such horrible connotations associated with the word. And the women and men fighting for the cause would not experience such backlash.

The lack of understanding of feminism as a concept can account for many of the women who shy away from the term as well. When asked if they consider themselves feminists, a lot of women say that they aren’t because they “love men.”

Wait, what?

WHAT?

As feminism is a cause for bettering those very womens’ lives, I struggle with the idea that they have not explored it enough to realise that that is really not what feminism is about.

Feminists do not hate men.

I repeat: Feminists. Do. Not. Hate. Men.

This kind of mislabelling of feminism is much more detrimental to the cause when it is done by people with a social platform that allows them to be heard by a great number of people. For example, the actress Shailene Woodley recently said this exact thing. This kind of sentiment leads to young girls growing up saying that they, too, don’t believe in feminism (the fight for equality) because they love men.

Real feminists (those who follow the core ideals of feminism) want equality and therefore their work does not get in the way of them loving men. In fact, it is helped by it.

Although there are a lot of people who do not support feminism due to their lack of education on the real purpose behind it, there are a whole bunch (yes, this is a highly scientific term) of people who do not support it because they simply do not want equality.

There are people who truly hate women, as seen by the mind-boggling sympathy and support for Elliot Rodger by some, who truly hate women, or at least see them as beneath men in their ‘role’ as a sexual object. They see women as something for them to possess, to own and to control. They simultaneously over-sexualise women from a young age and despise and blame women for the sexuality.

On a local level, it translates to emotional and physical abuse in the domestic home, or sexually predatory behaviour and intimidation in public.

Many people say that feminism is not necessary any more — that, in our current society, we have reached the perfect pinnacle of equality.

To those people I say get your head out of your — sorry, I meant that to those people I say educate yourself.
Do not operate from male privilege or the privilege awarded to you by your socioeconomic position in life (because feminism is most needed in underdeveloped countries where women do not have access to education or a semblance of free will in some cases).
Read the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter.
Read the stories of everyday girls being assaulted, raped or intimidated with no consequences for the male perpetrators. (And, no, I’m not going to say the classic: “Imagine if that was your daughter/wife/mother/sister.” Because you shouldn’t have to imagine someone you know going through this to see its injustice.)
Ask yourself if you think that it is okay that rape victims are vilified because of what they were wearing when the assault took place.
Investigate the wage gap.
Read this: http://thoughtcatalog.com/nico-lang/2012/12/why-we-need-feminism/

The relative oppression of women is not only evident in such obvious ways but also in smaller ones — it can be seen in the derogatory terms with which some men refer to women (“piece of ass” or “bitch” or “slut”).

It can also be seen when guys say one of the most ignorant things in the entire world — that feminism is an excuse to hit women. Yep. That is a real thing.

There was a bunch of guys in my high school who would belittle us and then if we said anything about treating us equally, they would say, “Equal rights means that guys can punch girls, too.”

How about no one punches anyone, dumbass?

Newsflash: you are just twats.

If all you think of with the issue of equality is being allowed to hit women then you have some deep issues. Like, real deep. Like, Mariana Trench deep.

In this bunch of guys, I’m sure that not all of them had such prominent inferiority complexes that they were just bursting to be able to hit women, but they all conformed to what they saw as the norm. It is a common problem in guys particularly. They see their mates talking derogatorily about women and they are too scared to speak out against it.

Whilst I urge them not to fall prey to this form of societal peer pressure, I understand why it happens. What I don’t understand is when the same thing happens in groups of girls.

They call each other sluts and bitches and degrade and dehumanise each other in this way. By doing this to each other, it makes guys think that it is okay to do it to girls as well. Really, it’s not okay for ANYONE to do it.

These girls are often the ones who make fun of the idea of feminism.

But you need to understand — it is a cause fighting for YOU. To go against it is a tad ridiculous.

Whilst you as a reader may not agree with me, this is how I see feminism and, although nervous about voicing this opinion, I steadfastly believe that equality for all genders is important. In Australia, we should not have a man known for saying misogynistic things as the minister for women. We shouldn’t have any man as the minister for women. Even my 10 year old sister picked up on that. Come on, guys.

Educate yourself on feminism.

Stop treating it as a dirty word.

Fight for equality.

Eat mud pies.

(Just thought I’d see how far I could push it with the short, sharp sentences. Mmm, so catchy and effective).

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Females in Film and Literature

We need more women in cinema.

Not women as love interests.

Not women as overly-sexualised heroines.

Not women as the token ‘ass-kicker’ sidekick.

Women in the same roles as men without the need to be sexualised to succeed.

It is fine for women to flaunt their sexuality or be confident with themselves in movies, just as it is fine for them to do the same in daily life. 

Women should be allowed to wear as much or as little as they like without it reflecting their sexual experience, ‘purity’ (as if such a concept existed) or ‘goodness’. 

But at the same time, there is a worrying absence of strong female leads that don’t need men to thrive. 

If a woman is the central character, nine times out of ten (warning: this is not a real statistic but it’s pretty damn obvious so leave it be) they are chasing or being chased by a male character. 

Even female superheroes in film often aren’t taken seriously. 

Before you get on your high horse with your cupid badge, I’m not saying it’s not okay for their to be films about love, or with love playing a prominent role. So don’t start. What I’m saying is that they have a monopoly on the female leads.

I’m all for a good RomCom now and then. It’s great for a girl’s night or to lift your spirits with some easy watching. I’m not denying that.

But what about when I want to see girls being the badasses they are? What about when I want to see girls in the same role as guys, without the need to sexualise them, dumb them down or give them a prominent love interest?

For young girls watching movies, this is the only image of women that they are being offered. What does that teach them? It teaches them to be the good, quiet girl in search of a man to validate her existence. 

I want girls to grow up knowing that whether they have a significant man or woman in their life is not as important as it is often shown to be — it does not validate nor justify them and it especially does not define them.

Often, it comes from literature as well.

Look at the franchises that have been prominent for girls in the last few years — films like the Twilight Saga and the Hunger Games.

Don’t even get me started on Twilight. I have a few bones to pick with the author of that. Not least of which is why the only female characters she offers are either completely dependent on men, ditzy or rude. How about some affirming roles for women? No? Okay.

But the Hunger Games is actually a brilliant trilogy. Not only does it have a lot of strong anti-consumerism messages, a warning against strong centralised government in the form of a dystopian future, and a strong female character, but it FEATURES love rather than focusing on it. (SPOILERS) She chooses her partner based on who she needs to survive. She chose for herself and was strong throughout.

But when made into films, the Hunger Games became very wholeheartedly about the romance and the ‘love triangle’ in it. Or at least the advertising did.

Where are the books and the films that help girls grow in understanding of themselves and the world around them?

Where are the books and the films that focus on females being strong for themselves, finding themselves and working for themselves rather than for men?

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I’m not asking for a token female character to feature in all movies. I’m not saying that at all.

I’m asking for an equal playing field for women.

In literature and film, a male is a female’s purpose. In life, that’s not the case.

In literature and film, men have the ability to play the whole spectrum of roles. Women are not given the same privilege.

Sure, have RomComs. Have females in search of love, or in love. Have bitchy girls and mean girls and ditzy girls and dependent girls.

But have other options as well. Don’t have that as the only means of referral for girls growing up to see what they should be like and who they should be looking for.

In other news, I have high hopes for an upcoming film to fit this bill:

It’s an action movie with a female lead with no need for the love interest of a man to keep her going. And it looks awesome.