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Perspectives on Feminism

In this post, I’m going to look at the various perspectives I often see cited by people against feminism, in an effort to unravel and attempt to debunk these perceptions. This list is in no way exhaustive but is instead a closer look at what I see come up time and time again in conversations. And thus we have my humble opinion on the following perspectives:
  • The focus on an extremist minority to judge feminism as a whole by: I’m sure we can all agree that no one wants negative stereotypes to influence the view of an entire body of people, in any regard. Why is it easy then for pretty much the same people to focus on the negative stereotypes that arise from an extreme minority of feminists and allow that to influence their views on feminism in its entirety? You see a few things about free-bleeding and feminists who don’t shave (yay for personal life choices) and decide that’s enough to base a decision on when it doesn’t even apply to a significant percentage of feminists. Where is the logic? In the same way, not liking a few people who are feminists doesn’t mean feminism in itself is at fault. That much should go without saying.
  • The myopic view of certain feminist issues: for example, there are people who want to focus on the sexual liberation aspect of feminism and claim that feminism is just a way for women to sleep around guilt-free but won’t focus on how important sexual autonomy is for women at a point in time when rape culture is alive and thriving. I know how hard this might be for some of us, but try to understand that women owning their sexuality in a society hell bent on stifling it and using it against them is a necessary aspect of our progression as a species and actually goes beyond your penis.
  • How you’re seemingly supposed to be doing something on a large scale platform for you to qualify as a certified Feminist: The fact of the matter is feminism is a vast, vast plane of existence and we can’t all be out there on the front lines, fighting for laws to be passed or whatever it is you think validates someone’s feminism. Everyday feminism counts just as much as the feminism taking to the streets to riot and protest. Just because something isn’t taking up a valuable amount of your space/time/energy/resources doesn’t mean you’re not contributing to the bigger picture. Passion about feminist issues, is enough. Change doesn’t just happen. It begins with a decision. When you take notice of everything that’s wrong with the models of society and the ways in which they affect the genders and you lift your hand up in solidarity, you have every right to claim the feminist title. Dialogue counts. No one will ever implement change on this grand a scale in one fell swoop. Talking about feminist issues so that people are aware and implored to change their perspective- and in turn how they interact with the world- it begins there. There aren’t quotas you have to meet or tasks you have to accomplish and anyone suggesting otherwise is either projecting their own inadequacies or just doesn’t get it. Yes, we need more people actively contributing to the movement where they can, but that alone is not the entire premise of feminism.
  • The “but if a man were to…” rhetoric with regards to things women are seemingly allowed to get away with: There’s a confusing tendency to misinterpret the fight against Gender-Based Violence as either acceptance of or a lack of interest in abuse against men. Just because someone is fighting against a prevalent issue does not mean they have turned a blind eye to the plight of others. Men face injustices, no one is arguing that. But to compare it to the injustices women face and claim that there’s not enough being done about it is terribly disingenuous. The principles of feminism don’t condone violence against anyone – and if efforts around this issue seem to be one-sided, it is simply because the prevalence of the cases against women are higher than those against men – which still doesn’t mean there is nothing being done about it.
  • The traditionalist, who doesn’t want feminism to get in the way of their values: the truth is, culture is not monolithic or stagnant. Things change and people evolve and the things they believe in along with them. One can keep their values and not be concerned about what everyone else is choosing to do with their lives. And if you believe everything is the way it is for a reason, that men and women each have their roles to play and feminism is just going to disrupt ‘the order of things’, then well, a conversation about gender roles in society is a post for another day.

And lastly:

  • The people who can’t seem to figure out just what feminists are mad about anyway, because there’s nothing left to fight for. Women can vote now and there are plenty of women in positions of power, what more could we possibly want? Or increasingly, how we just want to be put on a pedestal by keeping all the benefits of being a woman in today’s world but still cry for some illusive need for equality. Look. I’m personally not worried about who gets to pay the bill when I go on a date or whether someone is opening doors for me. If as a man, you feel like these things somehow negate my need for social justice then you can keep whatever preferential treatment you assume I get for being a woman, because there are things I care about more than any of that such as the wage gap, my reproductive rights, violence against women and really just everyday sexism. All of these are issues that we still face since women got the right to vote. As a matter of fact, if you were paying attention, you’d realize that all the systems that seem to favor women have been put in place because of views influenced by the patriarchal nature of our society- which is exactly what feminism is fighting against in the first place.

All I’m trying to say is if you’re going to be against feminism, get your facts straight. Don’t hate it just because trolling feminists is the new wave when there are real issues being addressed outside of the compressed details that people try to reduce it to.
There are of course a few more perspectives I didn’t think were worth exploring but bear mentioning:

  • Influenced by religion: this requires a whole other post, to be honest.
  • Women who want to separate themselves from feminism because they don’t want it to affect their proximity to and relationship with men: feminism wants to free you from compromising yourself for the sake of male attention but if that’s how you want to go about it then we really won’t stand in your way.
  • People who assume feminists want everyone to be a feminist and just can’t handle criticism or opposing views: in a perfect world, yes, we would all be feminists. But alas, it isn’t and not everyone has to identify as feminist- just that if you’re going to criticize the movement, don’t let it be from a place of willful ignorance.
  • Feminists are ugly, bitter, men-haters: Jesus is going to have to take the wheel on this one. I’m powerless to argue against such well thought out sentiments.

Yours faithfully,
A Fed Up Feminist.

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