I just stumbled across a site called “Women Against Feminism”. It has testimonials from countless women who carry placards where they’ve written their reasons for not being a feminist. Interesting. Let’s have a look.
The main reasons these women state for not being a feminist seem to be divided into the following categories:
- They don’t want to be labeled as “victims”, nor do they feel like they are oppressed
- They don’t believe in the existence of a patriarchy
- They don’t want to be “anti-men” and understandably resent statements like “all men are potential rapists”
- They feel like feminism is depriving them of their right to be sexy, or cook, shave, or wear nice clothes
- They believe that in the West the battle has already been won, and equality exists
- They have been treated badly by feminists who try to make everyone fit into the same mold
I think many of the points these women make are valid. Some of them are based on misunderstandings of what it is to be a feminist. Just like there are millions of feminists out there, there is no one true conception of what it means to be a feminist. Some of these anti-feminists have simply ran into some hard-to-handle humans whose convictions are perhaps somewhat stronger than their reality testing ability.
There’s no doubt that sometimes so-called modern feminism has overstepped the limit. It’s ridiculous to think that all men are potential rapists. If you can say that, you may as well say that all women are potential pedophiles. It’s non-sensical. Statements like these are based on someone’s personal agenda, not research.
But should we judge feminism based on the opinions of these marginal bigots? That’s like judging all Muslims based on Osama. Which, in case you’re uncertain, is also mad since approximately one quarter of the world’s population are Muslims and most of these people really do not agree with him.
Two can play this game. Here is my feminine manifesto. I wrote it quickly so forgive me if I left something out. Surprisingly (or not) it carries several of the same items that the anti-feminists have placed on their placards.
Maybe some of the confusion arises from the fact that modern feminist problems are different than the old ones. Women constantly scorn other women. Women place pressures on other women to be a certain way. Particularly mothers are pressured into certain things, whether it’s working/staying at home, wearing make-up/being natural, breastfeeding, being thin but not too thin, being sexy but not too sexy… Some of this pressure is from men, but often it seems that men are but bemused bystanders in all this aggression pouring from women to women. Some of this pressure comes directly from people who stamp themselves as feminists.
So I can see that people are tired. Some of the modern feminists may in fact be creating the very problems they should be helping to annihilate. They’ve got it wrong. But you shouldn’t blame all the other feminists who are working their butts off for the following goals (among others):
- To make women equal in the job market (Women with the same qualifications are still not considered for leadership positions anywhere near as often as men are. Women are still payed less for the same work. The world is still mostly run by men.)
- To divide housework equally (Women often choose to stay at home and take care of the home, which is fine if that’s what they want. It becomes a problem when both parties are working and the woman, against her will, still bears the brunt of the housework and child-minding, which according to studies is often the case)
- To give women the right to be sexual and dress as they wish without being branded as sluts
- To allow women the freedom to make their own decisions and not be forced to fit into a stereotype
- To support women’s rights not only in the West, but most importantly in third world countries, where women desperately need it.
The anti-feminists feel like they don’t need help. They’re not victims. They can fight their own battles. I respect that. I encourage their feelings of empowerment. That’s a very good attitude for taking on the world, I aim for it too. But I hope that these people are aware that the decisions they and their daughters make are constantly molded by the subconscious ideas prevalent in our society. I’m referring to the sort of insidious inequality where subconscious attitudes and feelings direct our activities. This is inevitable, it’s how all people work. But being aware of such bias can help us eradicate it.
An example. One study showed that girls got lower grades for maths just because they were girls. When the papers were rated without names, the girls scored better. With the names on, the teachers rated girls at the same level than the boys. In spite of this, the boys were encouraged to pursue mathematics more. Discrimination like this is difficult to see, and the teachers themselves don’t necessarily realize that they’re doing it. It discourages girls from pursuing well-paid careers in mathematical and scientific fields even though their abilities would allow for it at least as well as the boys. Thus reinforcing stereotypes like that girls are not good at science or have no interest in that field, even though research has disproven those stereotypes long ago.
Here is the link to the study.
We are not impervious to these influences, as much as we might like to be. When feminism began, it was men who were holding us down. Now it’s mostly subconscious attitudes and beliefs from both men and women. Men are no longer the enemy, but other women, feminist or not, should not be the enemy either. Women are supposed to be your friends, your partners in crime. Isn’t feminism supposed to be about propping other women up, instead of putting them down?
The feminist movement was created for women, not against women (or men for that matter). It’s not supposed to turn women into men, either. It’s supposed to empower us and give us equal opportunities for success.
That is why I am a feminist.