Or am I doing it right? Should I be doing it at all? Is it something from a bygone era that’s fallen out of touch with modern society? Are we past its need altogether? I’ve decided to weigh in, so I’ve donned my Kevlar, grabbed a riot shield, and decided my biker boots work best with this outfit.
From what I’m seeing on social media lately, feminism has become a dirty word, so much so that it’s spawned an anti-feminist movement. Here’s one: Women Against Feminism. Yep, you read that right. According to their ‘about’ page it’s: Women’s voices against modern feminism and its toxic culture. Not an MRA page, sorry!
Confused? I know I am – as much about the ‘toxic culture of modern feminism’ as I am about the apology of it not being an MRA (Men’s Rights Activists) page. What you’ll find on the FB page are photo-posts of women holding placards stating why they ‘don’t need’ feminism. They appear to be strong, independent women prepared to stand up for their beliefs and their rights, which, ironically, is the foundation of feminism
Some of those placards are a little disturbing, and others are downright ridiculous. “I don’t need feminism to perpetuate the myth that 21st century women are oppressed.” I’m sorry, but what world are you living in? The world I’m living in is filled with oppressed women. It’s no myth. Let’s talk child brides, the denial of education for girls, and what of the the 234 Nigerian girls kidnapped earlier this year? Nope, move along, no oppression to see here.
But maybe feminism only applies to those who live in ‘first-world’ countries, you know, ‘cause it’s hard to see beyond our borders, right? So let’s take a look the “myth” of oppression from that perspective. Feminism began as a movement and ideology for the rights and legal and social equality of women. Now call me a cynic, but that equality thing? We haven’t reached it. Equal pay? No. Workplace equality? Nope. Freedom from discrimination, harassment and violence? That gets a big hell to the no. Oppressed? Pfft!
Another placard that didn’t sit well with me was: “I don’t need feminism because my son should not be made to feel less of a person simply because of his gender.”
Yet feminism came into being because women were made to feel less of a person because of their gender.It’s not a movement against men, it’s a movement for equality.
As the mother of a girl and a boy, does my support of feminism mean devaluing my son? I call bullshit; I call a whole lot of bullshit.
Both my children deserve the same opportunities, the same rights. My daughter, however, is the one who may need to fight for those basic rights. I know the kind of crap she will encounter because of her gender. And no, I’m not being fatalistic. I’ve lived it. Most women have – #yesallwomen.
Will my daughter be whistled at and/or cat-called as she walks down the street? Will she be asked to take a drink order “honey” when she’s a journalist at a convention? (True story). Will someone believe it well within their rights to grab her arse while she’s out with friends? Will she be called a slut or a lesbian if she refuses another’s advances? It breaks my heart that she will encounter something that objectifies her, dehumanises her, reduces her to a particular sum of her parts. It also enrages me.
Statistically, my son sits much lower on that probability scale. Is that fair? No. Is it reality? Yes. Both my children have been taught their gender doesn’t matter when it comes to who they are or what they can achieve. There is nothing they can’t do if they apply themselves. Anyone that tells them different is full of shit (and will get my foot lodged firmly up their arse). Anyone who treats my children differently because of their gender will also get my foot firmly lodged up their arse.
My children are taught tolerance; they’re taught that we’re all equal; they’re taught to stand up for their rights and the rights of others. They know that words that marginalise another based on gender, race, appearance, faith, will not be tolerated in our home. They also understand that the world around them is filled with unfairness. It’s filled with bias, discrimination, wrong-doing and injustice. They also understand that neither of them has to be okay with that – not for themselves, and not for others.
As for those against feminism, and especially those women against feminism, you keep standing up for your beliefs, for your right to say what you feel and what you think, I applaud your absolute right to do so. Just as I applaud the absolute right I have to disagree with you. Feminism fought for those rights, along with so many other rights for women. (Check out this post for a great summation).
Me? I’m proud to be a feminist, and my husband and I are proud to be raising two more. Being a feminist doesn’t mean I hate men — I’m married to one and raising another. Being a feminist doesn’t mean I want to subjugate men. Author Mary Shelley said it best: “I do not wish for women to have power over men, but over themselves.”
So when I ask myself if I’m doing feminism the “right” way or the “wrong” way, I look at my daughter and my son, and I see the kind, compassionate people they are, and you bet your arse my answer is “the right way”.