We need to re-contextualise feminism in order to stop spreading nasty rumours about it.
Believe it or not, but a bunch of young women decided to join a Tumblr campaign called Women Against Feminism, started by an anonymous creator. The website features different women photographing themselves with a piece of writing that explains why they do not need feminism.
As Ruby Hamad on DailyLife.au beautifully explains in 5 succinct examples, these women are a confirmation of the fact that feminism is needed and, in some cases, has actually won battles.
All seemed well and harmony was restored in the online debate. Despite this Miles1984 felt the need to write this comment in response to Ruby’s article:
Mark these words, dear reader, because this is the quintessential argument against feminism, or, in fact, any kind of movement fighting to achieve equal rights in a struggle with a dominant social class. Perhaps it will be useful to better understand the misinformation and ignorance in Miles1984’s opinion if we changed it around and replaced feminism with “civil rights movement.”
Feminism is in essence a civil rights movement, though the latter became associated mostly with the fight of African-Americans to demand the end of separatism and equality between ‘races’ and the protection of everyone’s rights, not only white people’s. Feminism’s fight is similar as, between other things, it aims at ending discrimination on the basis of gender and the protection of everyone’s rights, not just male’s.
Admittedly, the “between other things” remain a bit of a blurry and fuzzy cloud of all sorts of claims made by all sorts of definitions of feminists. Feminists do not agree between themselves on a many issues, like pornography, sex workers, etc., but still a common area can definitely be found on the idea of ending gender-based discrimination. Just like the African-American civil right’s movement struggle to end race-based discrimination.
Miles1984’s comment in relation to African-American civil rights movement would sound like this:
“Civil rights movement does NOT represent all African-American people and never actually has. Civil rights movement can only really speak for African American civil rights activists, NOT for all African American people. Civil rights movement is not truly about equality. It fights for African-American people’s rights, not really white people’s. Sure there may be some side issues that are put behind white people’s issues. But African-American civil rights movement cares for African-American people. It does not give priority to both races. It is not equal. It is as divisive as its name. I don’t see much future for civil rights movement, tbh.” – Ridiculous, right?
Feminism is not a political ideology. It fights for all women’s rights. Not all women may decide to make use of laws allowing them to fight in the military’s frontline, but a few of them wanted to do so, and then were allowed to do so because of an ongoing fight to give women the same employment opportunities as men.
Feminism does not fight for men’s rights in the same way as African-American civil rights movement were not fighting for white people’s rights, but a) white people were still welcome to join civil rights movement and protest just as much as males are welcome to support feminism and b) feminism’s fight for women’s rights will also produce benefits for men as it is a widely accepted economic principle that more empowered women will contribute to society’s growth and development.
And let’s get one last thing straight, no matter what the Women Against Feminism or Shailene Woodley may think: feminists do not hate men nor do they want to ‘take their power away’. Feminists condemn the patriarchy, which is an abstract concept to indicate society’s norms and customs that discriminate against women. Enforcers of the patriarchy are, in fact, both men and women, yet feminists do not hate these people, they merely think that their actions are detrimental to a vast percentage of the world’s population.
So if feminism is eventually just a movement for societal change as much as the civil rights movement, why does it have such a bad reputation? Is it because of angry women who were burning bras a few decades ago? And what exactly was wrong with that? Women did and do have a right to be angry just like any other part of society which sees itself diminish, discriminated, and in some cases even threatened by the dominant group – just like African-American people were ( and to some extent, still are). Some resorted to violent action, like those who joined the Black Panthers. As far as I know, feminism on all its forms has, to this day, remained peaceful. That’s because feminists, contrary to some people’s beliefs, do not hate other human beings.
When Caroline Criado Perez started a campaign to have more women featured on British currency, she did not hate the Bank of England, or her own country. She simply thought that not enough women were sufficiently commemorated on the British banknotes.
Jane Austen is expected to replace Charles Darwin in 2017. But no one hates Charles Darwin or belittles what he has accomplished. Figures on banknotes periodically change. It is time to remind the world that women have a place in our countries’ histories, too. Otherwise, we may run the risk of people forgetting about their contributions and taking for granted the rights we continue to enjoy because of their work.
By Sofia Lotto Persio
Photo Credits:Knight_Before and women against feminism tumblr