This post was originally going to be a letter to women who are against feminism, and it was probably going to be angry, pointing out all the things feminism has done for you that you may not even realize.
But that’s before I found this post, which reminded me of why I wanted to focus my energy on feminism in the first place.
Feminism is stupidly elite.
It’s frustratingly not accessible. And it’s honestly kind of scary to get into. Even I am finding myself intimidated at times, when people question what I’ve said and dissect what I argue, because I know that I am no expert. I know that my blog is young and that there are people out there who know their stuff way better than I do. I took a couple of classes about feminism in university, but I actually got real tired of all the political talk and painfully theoretical papers. It was just too much, after while.
So I called myself a feminist, because I believed in equality, but I wasn’t really an advocate. I was pretty done with it.
And that is because feminism shut me out. People who knew feminism made me feel like I couldn’t get it into it because I didn’t know enough, and voices were shouting at me from every direction, no matter what I thought.
Really, who wants to be yelled at?
So if you are against feminism, I don’t blame you.
I didn’t become a feminist as a result of people yelling at me and trying to aggressively convince me to become one.
I became a feminist from reading on my own and learning more about it.
Which is exactly what I’m doing right now…. only now I’m also trying to share what I’m learning and help others understand what I find.
Feminism needs to be easier to understand, not patronizing.
I understand the problems with feminism, and I understand why you might not like it.
But with that in mind… if I can make it accessible, then maybe I can reach you.
If you are a woman against feminism, I want you to know that I was there too.
So I promise not to yell at you in capital letters from behind my screen.
No more really challenging jargon and confusing theories.
No more yelling and aggressive arguments and shutting each other down.
Just you, me, and some humor. (And a glass of wine. Go get one if you don’t already have one!)
I don’t want this to be a lecture. I know people have spewed facts at you before.
But feminism really has done more than you think in order to help you.
You still with me? If you are, I’d like to share why feminism probably does matter to you.
It is because of feminism that women’s opinions are seen as valid today.
We couldn’t even be having this discussion if it weren’t for the existence of feminism.
The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was passed as recently as 1919 in response to feminists vying for a right to vote.
Less than 100 years ago, you would not have been allowed to vote in the United States.
So yes — feminism has been about women’s rights for quite some time.
I mean, it did originally stem from political rights like voting in elections.
And then feminists began to focus more on gender inequality and discrimination, and later the intersectionality of race.
You see, women are now allowed to vote and have many other rights that men do, but they are not treated equally.
Women are still paid less than men, and not just because they are taking maternity leaves. In the US, an estimated 10-15% of the gender wage gap is a result of discrimination. That may not seem like a lot, but if we just accept that we are discriminated against as “the way things are” then we are not helping ourselves. At all. Instead, we’re saying we’re fine with being treated as if we are less than men. Are you really just fine with making less than a man who is equally as qualified as you are, just because you are a woman?
Women are still sexualized far more than men are, women are still apparently to blame for any sexual assault they experience, women are told not to walk alone at night… and the list could go on.
We know this.
But feminism is not about just women anymore.
The history of feminism is very much about women fighting for equal rights as men. But along the way, feminists have brought benefits to men as well.
It’s about everyone — we all benefit from feminism because feminism is about equality, straight up. Simple as that.
But let’s not pull an #AllLivesMatter or #NotAllMen here and discredit feminism. Yes, all lives matter. No, it’s not all men. Yes, men experience discrimination as well. Yes, they deserve representation and support as well.
It’s just that they also hold the privilege.
Men are not systematically discriminated against the same way that women are. Society already favours men. We are diminishing the cause if we say that men deserve a “movement” too, because they are already more privileged.
Again, that is not to say that men don’t face any discrimination. Yes, they do. The point is that women are the ones being treated as lesser by society as a whole. The men who face discrimination are often facing it because they bear “feminine” traits — they want to be a stay-at-home-dad, or they are “sensitive,” or they are weak.
So while feminism is indeed about equality for all, the fact that it is about women’s rights is very important.
No “ism” is perfect.
There is a reason that there are three waves of feminism, with a fourth arguably on the rise.
Feminism is not perfect.
Feminism changes. As we achieve more, we learn more. We realize our failures and try to improve.
The first wave was about allowing women to vote. The second focused more on discrimination once that had been achieved. The third realized the extreme nature of second wave may not have been quite right, and toned it down a little while still focusing on those issues, and also addressing intersectionality.
So sure — maybe women did need to focus more on other genders beyond female.
Why be against feminism for what it has done in the past?
Nobody’s perfect. And feminists have changed their beliefs. Feminism is evolving. We are doing more. We are learning.
That’s all we can do.
So if you believe that women should be treated equally to men, and that men deserve to respected and supported just as much as women, don’t be afraid to call yourself a feminist. Do your own reading. Learn more. Discuss. Share.
Just remember that just because one form of feminism shut down men, it doesn’t mean that’s what all feminism is about now.
In fact, nowadays, I would argue that we’re in the beginning of a new wave of feminism that goes against that. If anything is indicative of this, it’s UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson’s speech two years ago, where she publicly addressed that feminism is not about man-hating. (Click here for the transcript of her speech.) Not to mention all the other feminists who are saying this.
I hope you’ll join them.
Let’s make feminism for everyone — together.
What are your thoughts on why people are against feminism?