Feminism in essence is a social movement seeking equality for all genders in all aspects of society – political, economic and social. However, there is a divide between women who supports feminism and women who are against feminism. Largely, the cause of the divide is from the misinterpretation of the feminist movement since there are a number of paradigms which can easily cause confusion and create stereotypes. There exists a Tumblr page called “Women against Feminism” which consists of various pictures of women and their reasons as to why they are against feminism. I will draw what I think are the three most common claims of an anti-feminist as to why they are against feminism, and throw light on what they are getting wrong about what feminism represents and how feminism in reality supports what they stand for.
The first picture from the Tumblr page claims that “I don’t need feminism because human rights are universal, indivisible, and inalienable and they encompass women’s rights too. Having a separate ideology is contradictory.” In response to this I draw on the earliest, classical, and theoretical starting point of feminism – liberal feminism. The suffragettes who engaged in activism for their right to vote exemplifies how despite the fact that we are all the same – human beings – there is an obvious divide between the rights and privileges of the two genders. Liberal feminists see the lack of equality in the law as the cause of women’s oppression and they fight for the ability to be an imperative part of society and have a voice just as men have. Society has long progressed since those early times and that is in part because of the activism that the feminist movement have strived for. Nevertheless, there still very much exists the lack of equality in human rights all over the world such as the inability of women to have an education. Indeed, like many women claim, human rights should be universal, indivisible, and inalienable, but that is not the reality. If so, there wouldn’t be women like Malala Yousafzai fighting for the rights of women to get an education in their country.
Whereas liberal feminism fights for the equality of women in the political stage, care-based feminism dominates the domestic stage. The second picture from the page is just as misinformed, as she claims, “I don’t need feminism because I’m enjoying my role as a supportive wife. I love that my man is the head of my household. And I value being a stay at home mom, over slaving for a corporation while neglecting my family.” Her stance exhibits the assumption that feminists disdain women who value being domestic, who stay at home and take care of the family. These life choices have always been associated with femininity, while working and providing for the family are masculine. Contrary to what she says, the care-based feminism paradigm encourages femininity. Care-based feminists argue that women are oppressed because there is a devaluing of women’s roles and feminine values. It is the society and not feminism who undervalue these personas. How many times has one seen a woman run for a position in government and be criticized that this is not her arena of expertise or how someone can be belittled because she’s seen as too emotional and caring – traits associated to femininity. A care-based feminist fights for the change of attitude toward feminine values and to have it respected, supported, and valued just as society has always valued masculinity.
Lastly, we have the most common stereotype about feminists – the man haters. The third picture is against feminism for this exact reason as she states, “I don’t need feminism. Feminism promotes making men our enemies. Men aren’t our enemies. – an anti-feminist.” In her picture, she heavily underlines the word men emphasizing her point. The assumption that feminists are blaming men for the existing oppression and inequality in society is very common and deceiving. Radical feminism points out that the existing oppression and inequality in society is a systemic problem and not men themselves that are the cause; it is the patriarchal nature of the society that is wrong. Our society exists in such a way that it is men and masculinity that is dominant and valued more. There exists a hierarchy of power and power imbalance that inhabits every aspect of society in a manner that degrades and limits women. This is apparent in the government, academia, social rules, and popular culture. Our society is heavily socialized that it is acceptable to objectify women and the notion of the male gaze is prevalent in films.
The feminist movement is far from being perfect, but it is a movement for a noble cause. It is not a bunch of hairy, bra burning, and man-hating women. All feminists agree that oppression exists and there is no doubt about that. Feminism is rooted in an ideal that one’s gender should not be a vital factor that can hinder or spell success in the way they choose to live their lives – whether that’s running for presidency, staying at home, pursuing an education, being a runway model, or choosing a career that is male-dominated. One’s gender should not inhibit and limit anyone. Moreover, that our society should shift its paradigm to one that is not dominated by one group and puts importance one over another. What exists is a systemic and structural predicament where people are severely socialized to believe that everything is faultless, where the lack of proper information and education leads to the perpetuation of stereotypes and division – instead of unity in a well-intentioned movement.