One misfortune of my new job is that I have fallen far behind in my reading of Jezebel. Luckily, my dear friend Nerd of the Sands chats me up on Facebook, keeping me up to date on all the goodies. He brought my attention to a satirical article titled ‘Things I Learned From #WomenAgainstFeminism.’ Reading it reminded me that, amid all my discussions of feminism and gender equality, I was forgetting to victimize women and hate men. I’m really sorry, guys. I’ve lead you all astray.
Thank God that Jezebel article was written for humor. Every time I pass by the images in it, I fill with anger. Then, I imagine myself, dressed in leather, smoking a cigarette, standing outside a business, unshaven and bra-less whispering maniacally ‘job-havers, JOB-HAVERS’ like that’s the worst thing in the world. Oh how I laugh at the image. Who does that? I admit, I’ve known some feminist to walk around without bras on. Actually, if I’ve already shed my bra for the night, I have no problem making a quick run to the store in my sweatpants and t-shirt. I’m not going to get dressed again just to pick up some vodka and Oreos.
I did make the mistake of going to the Tumblr page, though. It was really hard for me to read much because all I saw was ignorance. These are women who don’t know what feminism is. They are ignorant of what it stands for, believing a stereotype instead of a truth.
I do not hold feminism on a pedestal as if it cannot be criticized. There’s actually a lot that can be discussed. In doing so, the feminist movement can become better and more focused on it’s central aim: gender equality.
It’s all about choice. Men, women and non-binary genders should be able to be body builders, stay-at-home parents or designers. They should be able to do so wearing dresses, pants, jumpsuits or whatever else the fashion world decides to throw at us next. There should be no shame in being who you are. No person should feel pressure to fit into a cookie cutter gender role.
That also means that all the above should also be free to fit that cookie cutter gender role if that’s who they are. If that’s what makes them feel happy and fulfilled, all the more power to them. I used to think we didn’t need to say that, but apparently we do. We need to emphasize the stay-at-home mother, the male body builder, the male Christian pastor and the female matchmaker can all be feminists, too. Feminism is not a lifestyle. It’s nothing more than the apparently radical idea that women are people.
Unfortunately, I’m going to criticize feminism again today, because I think the movement might carry a bit of blame for the ignorance of #WomenAgainstFeminism. For example, there’s a lot of emphasis on women being people, but we should really throw some more words into that statement.
Feminism is the apparently radical idea that women are people, just like men.
Ah, there we go. Feminism does not hate men. I have met women who hate men, but they haven’t been feminists. Even if you call yourself a feminist, you can’t be if you hate men. It’s like Islāmic terrorists who fight in the name of their religion. I’ve seen many Islāmic religious leaders speak out against their actions, saying those acts are not justified by Islam. Just because a person claims their acts of terror are in line with Islam does not mean they are. At the same time, a woman who thinks her hate of men is in line with feminism is always wrong, even if she considers herself a feminist.
Therein lies the second problem. Many women posting on #WomenAgainstFeminism rightfully care for men and are concerned about issues specific to them. When I was discussing equality in anime at Anime Midwest, one woman raised her hand to say she could see a great benefit to an organization dedicated to the well-being of men. There are male specific issues, like prostate cancer, that such an organization may choose to focus on. There’s the one in six men who will be sexually assaulted or raped in America. There’s the male victims of domestic violence, which some studies show may be a far more significant amount of domestic violence victims then first thought.
This is different then the discussion to create a NAAWP to balance the NAACP. Women’s health organizations do not include men in their mission statements. They state clearly that they are working towards the equality and well-being of women. I feel like this divide comes from a place of necessity instead of sexism. If you’re an expert on vaginas, it’s not because of sexism that you’re not also an expert on penises. There two different areas of study and you choose one. If a woman has been assaulted by a man, she may be very uncomfortable or fearful around other men. It makes sense that a place dedicated to the rehabilitation of rape victims may not want men in the same place.
However, men deserve all these services, too. They have issues down under, things they are embarrassed to talk about or admit and they can just as easily be victims of rape or domestic violence. As human beings, equal in dignity to every other human being, they deserve a place they can enter, face no judgement and have their needs met.
Yes, reading some of the ignorance on the #WomenAgainstFeminism Tumblr makes me angry, but is their ignorance willful or has feminism failed them? Let’s be honest, society is not trying to help feminists spread their message. That leaves it up to feminist alone to advocate, to tell the public how those in traditional roles and with traditional values are not to be shamed for their choice anymore then those who choose to live outside them.
What are your thoughts on #WomenAgainstFeminism? What are some of the true criticisms of feminism? Can a person criticize while still being a feminist? Do you think anyone can be a feminist, or only women?