It is possible, that I am only a reactive writer. I have not had a drive to write until this week when a popular post ended up on my facebook news feed, and I realized what I really wanted to say about it would be too many words for a facebook comment.
The link for the post is here: http://www.ijreview.com/2014/07/156463-15-women-share-reasons-dont-need-empowered-feminist-movement/
15 Sassy Photos Show Why Thes Women are Rejecting the Feminist Movement
The posts lists women holding up their written reasons why they do not need Feminism. Their reasons where confusing and shocking to me. Some reasons were so ignorant, that I felt embarrassed that women were saying this about a movement that arguably earned them the right to post a picture of themselves and their opinion decades before the internet came into existance.
To avoid ignorance. What is feminism? What is the feminist movement? One definition I found on our trusty ol’ wikipedia states: “Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending a state of equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women.” However, the more muddled a definition, the more room there is for error, so lets simplify. We could pull from that definition that feminism is “defending a state of equal rights for women”. In the most simple explaination, a feminist is a person, (man or woman) who believes that women and men should have equal rights and oppurtunity. Therefore feminism, which is commonly mistaken as being all about gender, is truly about achieving a world where we don’t acknowledge gender.
The only way I can imagine really getting my point across is to state 15 sassy reasons why they are so misinformed, and why the world needs feminism. Lets start with lovely anti-feminist lady number 1.
She states: “I don’t need feminism because I don’t want to politicize my gender.” Tell me about it. I hate politics. They are corrupt, they are sneaky, they are power hungry, and over 80% of people in political positions are men. If gender inequailty isn’t present in politics, why aren’t these numbers closer to 50%? Can women really feel like they receive full representation in government decisions when they are less than 20% of the voice? I can tell you I don’t. I have a firm belief that women and men naturally approach and critically think through problems differently, and I have an even more firm belief that we need some more diverse methods of problem solving in D.C. so I am happy to politicize my gender, because that is what politics are about, represntation, an women are still greatly lacking the representation they deserve when it comes to state and federal decisions.
Anti-feminist Lady number 2: “I don’t need feminism because I am not a Victim” If I just so happened to be eating something when I read this you could have imagined a perfect shock-induced choke. What? Since when is feminism about becoming a victim? Feminism is about gaining women the respect they inherently deserve so that they are no longer victims by default. Maybe I read this wrong, maybe you don’t need feminism because you haven’t ever been a victim. You have never been sexually assulted or verbally abused, denied a job because of your gender, or told you couldn’t play with someone or do something because you were a girl. We’ll you are so lucky! Extremes aside, I remember growing up in my religious community feeling frustrated every summer that the “Young Men” were going on camping, boating, and back-packing trips, and I was excluded from these things simply because I was a girl, and the “Young Women” didn’t pursue such activities. It’s true, looking at it this way makes me a pity-party victimizer. But if they recognized that young girls could enjoy those activities too, I would have probably enjoyed my religion a bit more growing up. Feminism isn’t about making women realize they are victims. Its about achieving equal opportunity for people regardless of their sex.
Anti-Feminist Lady number 3- “I don’t need feminism, I don’t need something that demonizes men, I don’t need something that tells me the actions of a slut are ok and that the possible evidence of those actions can be thrown away like they were nothing but a clump of tissue, and I sure as hell don’t need anything that makes playing the victim out to be empowering.” Woah, thats a long list of loud, offensive, arrogant judgements. So… lets start with the first one. Yes, women have been surpressed by men since the beginning of existence. It would be understandable that some women would try to lash back at those hundreds of years of supression. But those women aren’t what feminism is. Feminism is equality for men and women. Not women demonizing men. I am a feminist, and I believe a small percentage men are complete sexist assholes. But I just avoid these men. I don’t teach my children and society that they are the spawn of satan. Moving on to the slut business. Every single person is entitled by their right of exsitence to their own concept and practice of sexuality. To call an other woman a slut is one of the most pathetic and disempowering things we can do as fellow women who want men to take us seriously. The truth of the matter is that in our society men are praised for lewd behaviour and sexual promiscuity, but a woman is shamed for the same behaviour. No, sexuality is not going to earn us equality. But slut-shaming must stop. There is no excuse for it, you have no right to tell someone else how to live their life. And most importantly an other woman’s sex life has absolutely nothing to do with Feminism, or at least I can’t comprehend how the people you have sex with affects my rights. About the allusion to abortion. I am not going to go far into this but again. An other women’s body is none of your business. I can’t say if abortion is murder, I have no idea if it is or not. No one knows, everyone just believes what they want. Freedom and equality is about choice. If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t get one. End of story. We’ve already gone through the victim line so lets move on, I can tell this is going to be a long post.
Anti-feminist lady number 4- Lets just cut to her last statement because its astonishing, “As a woman in the western world I am not opressed and neither are you” OK. As already stated I come from a religious background and if my mother or grandmother reads my next three words they will be so mad I swore publically but I can’t help it: OH MY GOD! Are you serious? You think women in the western world aren’t Opressed? Lets just skip over Rapeculture and the fact that I can’t walk home from work in the dark without my heartrate in flight mode the whole time incase a man attacks me (because we are programed to think that from the time we are young girls) and talk about Work. (Because of course we’ll get back to rape culture) Just yesterday I met someone who is studying Aerospace engineering and told him all about my awesome friend back home we’ll call her Mary, who did the same degree. She is one of probably 20 girls in the engineering college. But do you know what she told me she really wanted to do for a career? Helicopter pilot. Remember how we are told we can do anything we want if we put our minds to it. We’ll we can’t. Mary chose something other than flying helicopters for a living for one reason. She has spent years working in the helicopter-tourism industry with a company in Alaska that books tours onto glaciers. Shas has a great relationship with her work mates and her boss. But this great boss told her he would never hire her as a Pilot. Never. And this was his reason: It is bad for business because many clients refuse to get in a helicopter with a female pilot. If you think I am making this up I don’t blame you. I didn’t think it was real either when she told me. How heartbreaking for her. So yes. That is actually oppression. Not having the freedom to pursue what you want because you have been told by someone who knows that you are a hard, smart, and reliable worker that there is no job security due to your sex is opression. Thats my story, I bet there are over a million girls out there with similar ones. If you don’t feel opressed then that is great you are happy and comfortable. But the fact is you probably don’t feel opressed because you aren’t challenging traditional societal gender roles and you are doing exactly what men expect of you.
Anti-Feminist Lady number 5- “I don’t need feminism because I am capable of Critical Thinking and I do not need other women representing me” OK thats great. Lets do some critical thinking. Do you think without the work of centuries of feminists before you, the teenage girl that you are would be capable of representing yourself? No, probably not so you should be thankful for that. Also, lets think critically about what feminism is again: movement for equality. Yes. There has been a lot of back-lash to extreme feminsim. But could we possibly think critically enough to realize that extreme feminists might actually be a very small number of people who are acting in a way that is not true to the simple fact that feminism is about obtaining equality to the point that reconigtion of gender is obsolete? Because one man a few months ago shot and killed several people after releasing an angry manifesto that women owed him sex do we now assume all men are misogynists killers? Because we always see stories of muslim extremists bombing innocent people in the name of religion do we now assume all people in the middle east or of muslim faith are suicide killers? No, we don’t assume this. Because we think critically. Yes. Thinking is encouraged, especially when it comes to societal issues. But to say feminists are women who want to be victims to obtain power over men and have lots of sex, and that you dont need them speaking for you, isn’t critical thinking. That is believing the few issues extremists have caused and assuming they are the movement.
Anti-Feminist Lady number 6- “I don’t need feminism because I actually am courageous and strong. And I actually have awards, commendations, medals, and scars to prove it. I don’t need to belittle a man in order to lift myself up.” Ok so this is the first lady that I was like, ok you’re right, you’re the shit, keeping doing what you are doing. Because we do need more women like you. You are leading by example. You don’t identify as a feminist, but you are the ultimate feminist because you are out there pursuing one of the most traditionally male dominant roles our society knows, all while acting like the concept of gender doesn’t exist! This is exactly what we need and I applaud you. I just wish you recognized that feminism is not about be-littling men and its not about pitying women. It is about helping soceity recognize that we have strong women like yourself. It is about creating a society that doesn’t look twice at a female marine because mixed gender roles will no longer be an extreme idea. Maybe then you would be proud of feminism.
Anti-Feminist Lady number 7- “I don’t need feminism because I don’t choose to ignore the fact that men have issues too.” Yes. Men have issues. Lets awknowledge this fact. Lets also awknowledge the term RapeCulture. A term coined to explain the phenomeon of our society to normalize hyper-sexualization and objectification of women. If you are unfamilar with this phenomeon turn on MTV, or YouTube a few commercials, maybe try a Carls Jr one for starters. A big issue for our men, more importantly our young sweet innocent boys, is that they are being raised in a world of media that passively and directly down-plays inequality of women to the point that a woman becomes an object to use rather than a person to know and respect. And this is normal. So normal infact that most girls seek attention by focusing on their body and appearance rather than their personalities and intellect. This is a big issue. And if it is not turned around it will lead to more issues. As person who understands that feminism is a movement that seeks to obtain gender equality, I think it is extremely important that we do not ignore this issue.
Anti-Feminist Lady number 8- “I don’t need Feminism because my choice is to not be associated with it [as it is patronizing and condensending]” .. I think this is what she wrote, or meant to write, I honestly can’t read it, happy to stand corrected by someone who can. Once again, to go into this would be redundant. You dont have to associate with feminism that is fine of course. But that doesn’t mean you do not need it. As women we all need feminism, because by default men recieve more oppurtunity than us… and you don’t even need to do research, you could just go to a general history class to find backing to my claim. If shouting at the top of the world that you are sick of boys getting more repect or opportunity makes you feel like a victim, then stay silent, but you are still a victim. At least the people who are striving for change are doing something. They aren’t even attacking you for not helping them help you. Even when you attack all the work they have done for you.
Anti-Feminist Lady number 9- “I need a feminist like a fish needs a bicycle” I wonder if you would have the courage to say that to the women at the Seneca Falls Convention. Or actually you must not know what was if you dont need feminism. Oh man and thats just the most obvious thing feminist gave to women in America today! Imagine all the other things you must not know about!
Anti-Feminist Lady number 10- “I need feminism because I like to blame men for my unjustifiable slutty actions!” I have to say, if I posted something like that I would have held the poster in front of my face so that no one would know it was me. This goes back to rape culture, to never feeling safe, to how obscene it is for women to call eachother slutty. All I can say is that researchers estimate that of all girls who attend college 1 out of 5 will be raped. And that is just the extreme. There are all levels of verbal and sexual assault that women endure because rapeculture normalizes crude behavior and disrespect of women. 20% ! And honestly I think that is a low-ball guess. Do you know why? Because the vast majority of victims are ashamed to report the abuse. They are ashamed because they think there must have been something they did to invite an other person to force themselves on them. Why? Why would you think you passively did something to deserve a consequence as horrific as rape?! Oh wait. Its because of people like you, anti-feminist number 10, people who blame victims of a horrible personal crime for “asking for it” because they have “unjustifiable sluttly actions” Based on those statistics, if you have ten friends (just to get personal) it is possible that two of them are victims of sexual violence. And no. It wasn’t because they were slutty.
Anti-Feminist Lady number 11- “I don’t need femisim because it has turned from a movement about equality, to a hateful, sexist, corrupt group, that disregard’s people’s issues due to priveledge.” Well actually, the only correct set of words on your poster is that feminism is a movement about equality. It just so happens that it is still a movement about equality. Once again, I won’t deny that there are sexist extremists out there claiming to be feminists, but it is impossible to be sexist and feminist. Therefore I am capable of recognizing that they are not the movement. Infact the vast majority of people who believe in this movement are normal, peaceful, rational, and intelligent men and women who simply believe that there should be equality for all people regardless of gender.
Anti-Feminist Lady number 12- “I do not need feminism because society does not objectify me, feminists are the ones that tell me that! Do I look opressed to you?” Oh dear. You may not look opressed but you definitely sound opressed to the point that its making me second guess if you look opressed, infact I am looking at the background to see if there are bars on the windows of your house. To say that women-objectification is a conspiracy made by feminists… the only explaination I have is that you don’t own a tv, or computer,and don’t recieve any magazines or newspaper, and you have never been let out of the house. We will talk after you read your first magazine because I don’t know how we can have a proper conversation until then.
Anti-feminist Lady number 13- “I don’t need feminism because I am an adult who is capable of taking responsibility for myself and my actions. I define myself and derive my value by my own standards, I don’t need to be empowered. I am not a target for violence and there is no war against me. I respect men, I refuse to demonize them and blame them for my problems.” Good argument. But once again it falls amongst the fallacy of misinformation. Feminsim is not about demonizing men. It is about equality. You are very lucky that you have never been a target of sexual violence and that you have never been told you couldn’t do an activity or have a job because you are a woman, but you are the minority. Most of us, regardless of being adults with responsibilty know what it feels like to be told we can’t do something because of our gender. I am happy that you know your value, feminism is about teaching worth to girls who have been raised in an environment that kept them from knowing their value, and giving them a strong sense of identity.
Anti-feminist Lady number 14- “I dont need feminism because I believe in equality not entitlements and supremacy.” Because I am sick of typing it, and anyone else who has read this far is sick of hearing it rewritten a million different ways, I am going to ask you to just scroll to the top and get an idea of what feminism means. Whats funny is that I totally believe in entitlements! I believe that because I am a human being, I am entitled to the same opportunity of success as an other human being regardless of our gender. I believe that when I walk into an interview, I am entitled to the same amount of respect the male applicant before me got. Feminism is about equality. And we are entitled to that equality because we exist, its simple.
Anti-feminist Lady number 15- “This is what an anti-feminist looks like” I have to say, I have no idea why they saved you for last, as you had no argument, it was a huge let down. I can’t help but think of the irony in how much this image plays on the objectification of women. Thats right. I am going there, its a stretch but I am reaching. And this is why: Because by just stating you are anti feminist with a picture of your face, with nothing intelligent to say.. its ironically just exactly what an overbarring patriarchical society wants from you, just sit there and look pretty. This last picture for me strongly weakend the credibility of the whole page.
So there. That was my reaction to all of your posts. And more than ever I want to say that I am a feminist and I need feminism. I need it because I believe women are more than their bodies and faces. I need to surround myself with strong, powerful, truly beautiful, diverse, intelligent women in a world where media bombards me with images of full chested women with tiny waists and big hair and flawless skin, while the men in media have all different looks and body types. I need to be reminded that my appearance is not everything that I am. I need men who respect me as a person. I need to know I can pursue whatever qualitifcations I want, and that when it comes to obtaining a career position, my employer will consider my personality, skills, and work ethic. Not my sex. I know feminism is still needed because I notice when I am in a work or social environment where my gender is irrelvant. And it shouldn’t be a stark realization. It should be the norm. I am grateful to the feminists that came before me. I am grateful for the doors they opened for me. I am grateful for the women who attended universities when it was against the norm, and women who are still trying to be helicopter pilots even after being told not to. I am grateful to the feminist who raised the man I love, because he respects me and loves me as a person, not his property. I do feel empowered by feminists, and I love that feeling. I am grateful for that feeling because I know it took sacrifice from others for me to have it, and I live in a world now where I can do just about anything. So lets rejoice at the success feminism has been so far, and continue defending our right to equality.
p.s. my feature photo is an example of women objectification in normal society for number 12 😉