Oh, boy. Here it is. Here comes the uncomfortably opinionated post that I never intended to write on this blog.
Remember when I said I would try to write something upbeat?
You might not like it. You will probably disagree. You definitely didn’t ask for it.
But oh well here it is anyways:
In light of an interesting yet controversial post that I recently read, I felt like I needed to write a response. BeautyBeyondBones wrote about her thoughts on feminism, titled “Challenging Feminism.”
Guess what? Challenge accepted!
Her viewpoint questioned the necessity and value of feminism in her society. She actually made many well-argued points that are valid and persuasive, some of which I definitely agree with! But one question she asked was:
“What are [women] fighting for?”
Now, I’m not that political. I don’t like being overly opinionated and shoving my thoughts down people’s throats. At least, not beyond the internet. But for some reason, I couldn’t get that question out of my head.
So, what is my definition of feminism?
For most people, I feel like that word leaves a bad taste. Like it’s taboo. And I’m definitely not oblivious to that picture of extreme feminism that you may have. It’s taking a ridiculously politically-correct turn to the point that everything and anything can be offensive and discriminating.
What kind of person looked at the crossing sign and thought “Damn, now those are clearly some male subliminal messages intended to reinforce their superiority and patriarchy. Better change that quick.”
Feminism definitely has problems. In a way, it has the same problems with religion, in that any individual can take the values and principals of the idea and interpret it uniquely to fit their own beliefs – whether that’s radicalized jihadists, Christian extremists, or literally just anyone with any belief. They twist what they want and claim to be a representation of that ideology.
Unfortunately, feminism is stuck with a similar, undesirable stereotype. You know, what people are labeling the “feminazi” – the typical man-hating, braless, (dare I say) lesbians. It’s the first thing that pops up in my mind as well, which is why I’m sometimes hesitant to call myself a “feminist.”
When you hear “Islam”, you likely think “terrorism.” When you hear “feminism”, you likely think “misandry.”
Both are false correlations.
The root of feminism is, essentially, equality. I’d like to think that we all strive towards a society that’s based on that. But due to a few funky individuals, feminism now has a bad name.
It’s something we think we don’t want.
We’re lucky in North America that overt sexism doesn’t usually present itself. If you’ve never felt even a hair of sexism in your life, good for you. You’re lucky to be surrounded by people who are respectful and to have privileges that many of us don’t have. I think that’s why some women don’t quite understand feminism, because in truth, we really don’t see it.
Discrimination, however, comes in many forms. I don’t disagree with the idea that we are very privileged and don’t face even a fraction of the injustice that women face in other countries.
But discrimination can be psychological. It can be innate. We identify differences and make judgments based on them – which is actually beneficial in an evolutionary perspective. It’s not unique to humans – other animals discriminate as well to help distinguish between what is dangerous and what is safe.
My point is, even though sexism may not be presented in a direct manner, it still exists. Unconscious bias is a thing, people. It manifests itself in subtle ways in society.
It manifests itself in criticizing a female athlete for being too manly.
It manifests itself in replacing a doll in a boy’s hand with a toy car.
It manifests itself in calling a woman bossy, not a boss.
That’s why feminism is a tricky business. We’re not fighting against a behaviour.
We’re fighting against a mindset.
We don’t have to be mothers. We don’t have to be gentle and subservient. We definitely are more than just dainty damsels-in-distress.
We can express our femininity in other ways.
The fact that there are people who express and agree with the very strict idea of the maternal female and the providing male tells me, at least, that there is still some work to be done in our own society.
Until women can be strong and stoic, until men can be sensitive and caring, we fight.
That is feminism.