Feminism is such an innate, fundamental part of humanity’s core beliefs that to deny it would be directly against human nature.
While I respect the viewpoints of Tara Kennedy-Kline in her article I Am A Mother Of Two Children And I Cannot (And Will Not) Support Feminism, her lack of understanding of what feminism truly entails, apparent in her reasoning against several campaigns, displays an argument that is rooted strictly in ignorance.
Kline begins her article by claiming that she “may have been [a feminist] at one time”, but no longer is because the message “changed into something degrading, offensive… accusatory.” Her uncertainty about labeling herself is reflective of her gross misinterpretation of the word “feminism”, a term which, according to Merriam-Webster, simply means “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” While certain campaigns may be distasteful to her, the definition of feminism is not a fluid one; being a feminist will never mean suppressing masculinity, nor will it tell boys “not to treasure, protect and admire the women in their lives.”
Kline makes repeated references to the pride she feels in raising her two sons to follow her morals by teaching them to “to open doors and carry heavy loads, to ask a girl out on a date and pay the bill without expecting anything in return.” What Kline fails to realize, however, is that chivalry and feminism are not mutually exclusive. She references The FCKH8 campaign as evidence that boys are dissuaded from showing any signs of affection to girls; however, the true message was not to discourage chivalry. Rather, it proved a frightening point: the world is much more intolerant towards obscene language than the social and economic injustices faced by women daily.
According to Kline, Hollaback!, a non-profit designed to end street harassment, is a movement that “sends the message that if [her] sons make eye contact with, or say ‘hello’ to, a woman they don’t know, they are a predator.” This is a blatant overstatement, as the organization’s website reveals countless stories of extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous situations women have faced as a result of unsolicited approaches. As a woman, surely Kline has experienced similar catcalls, stares and gestures by males and felt the oppressive stigma of being female in a predominantly patriarchal world.
As a woman, it is shocking she so callously tosses the statistic that “1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted” because she is more worried that “100% of all men [will be viewed as] rapists.” As a woman, it is disheartening to hear her labeling other women as “easy” or sluts, and, as a woman, it is terribly saddening that she does “not believe that opposite sexes can ever be completely equal”. I encourage Kline to reevaluate this statement and to state exactly what these “very specific limitations are” that are currently barring gender equality across the nations. Frankly, if she determines a justification as to why women are still being oppressed 35 years after the International Bill of Rights for Women was signed, she may be one of the greatest sociologists of all time.
While support of all campaign methods is not obligatory, I cannot (and will not) believe that Kline or any other person can successfully argue against feminism because to deny it is to deny equality, opportunity, liberty and everything free people have stood and continue to stand for.
I believe that most antifeminism stems from the deceptive nature of society and our ignorance of current issues. Feminism is not about denying women the right to be housewives or degrading men as oppressive monsters. It simply gives women, and men, the right to choose their lifestyle without forcing them into a preconceived, stereotypical notion of what is considered “normal.” I am saddened Kline does not see this, and I am saddened that she condemns an ideology both genders will benefit from. I am confident, however, her two boys will grow up to become everything she wants them to be: respectful, chivalrous, loving and virtuous gentlemen, and so, fittingly, I am confident they will be feminists.