We live in a world where people speak or write before thinking; but I want you all to close your eyes and imagine with me for a minute. Envision a world where a section of society was casually but systematically discriminated against. This group was barred from education and most careers. They couldn’t make financial, marital, or political decisions autonomously, if at all. They basically were born, grew up, reproduced, and died. Essentially, that was the female existence before feminism, and that’s what civilization could regress to if these incredibly misguided women keep bashing the very movement that gave them the right to publicly bash anything. People wake up!
American women, as blessed and as free as we are, seem to have forgotten how integral feminism is to our equal standing in society as women. Therefore, as someone raised in an ultra-conservative household, where feminist ideas were considered sin; I will explain why I do (and must) support feminism.
Unfortunately, it has become evident that many uninformed individuals have a fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of feminism. Furthermore, the defense of men ad nauseam, which inevitably crops up in every dialogue about women’s rights, demonstrates that people confuse feminism and misandry. Feminism is the battle for equality; misandry is hatred of men. Please educate yourself on that matter. The Merriam-Webster dictionary officially defines the word as: “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities”. That’s it! That is simply all there is to it. If you believe that, you’re a feminist. Boom!
To start off, I understand that not everyone agrees with all of the ideas flown under the banner of women’s lib. But the questionable actions of a few radical females does not validate the argument that feminism as a whole is corrupted. The fight for women’s rights is about more than those documentaries that the college girl down the street makes. It’s about more than the hateful comments made by some bitter woman on a sub-Reddit deep in the Internet. It’s about more than those political protestors you pass every day on your way to work. Feminism is a movement. A movement. Just think about that.
Feminism hasn’t been derailed by a few crazies, there have always been extremists. The few do not represent the many. Thus, people who take issue with campaigns such as #YesAllWomen and Hollaback! need to open their eyes and recognize that those are just two of the myriad facets of the feminist movement. This patchwork quality is what makes the fight for female equality such an interesting dynamic in the modern dialogue about human rights.
Additionally, people tend to list partiality to traditional gender roles among the reasons they’re against feminism. There is nothing wrong with women who exhibit traits such as being maternal, demure, or classy. Just as there is nothing wrong with men demonstrating strength of character, bravery, or basic respect for ladies. The problem comes when those caricatures of the Western world’s ideal man and woman become the only option. America has to realize that the idea that those are fundamental and intrinsic qualities of the respective genders is simply archaic. They’re merely cultural constructs. Every society has its unique notions of how men and women ought to act.
Similarly, critics of the movement have asserted that feminism is teaching boys that they are wrong to look at girls. Merely looking is not necessarily the problem. After all what red-blooded straight female doesn’t appreciate seeing a nice pair of pecs and biceps on a guy at the beach? The problem feminists have with men in this area is objectification, and guys thinking they have a right to a woman’s body because she’s wearing a low-cut shirt.
By the same token, I have heard many men (and some women) opine, “Respect is earned, not demanded.” This statement is so ignorant of the history of the oppression of women that I have difficulty processing it. While that aphorism may be true in some circumstances, the millennia of cruelty against women speaks to its inappropriateness in this context. I mean it’s cringe worthy that people would even use such a statement when arguing against feminism.
Consider this: it was acceptable, in various cultures, basically from the beginning of time until approximately 100 years ago, for men to treat women like property. Throughout history, the law has supported a man acting as his sister’s or mother’s legal guardian, beating his wife, not educating his daughters, receiving little to no punishment for adultery while the unfaithful wife was killed, and even snuffing out the life of his infant girl because she wouldn’t grow to be a man. That’s not even considering the countless other horrors women were submitted to, ranging from indignities to atrocities. To those who demand women earn respect: are you saying women haven’t been treated fairly for 1000’s of years because we don’t deserve it?
Ultimately, it is evident that regardless of the aspects of modern feminism that some take issue with, the battle for female equality has brought us very far from the conditions our great-grandmothers were living in. Now I may just be an idealistic young woman, but personally, I think the centuries old battle for female equality is kind of amazing. The feminist movement is a beautiful motley of people who are united in the fight for freedom and liberty for all humanity. After all, what could be more awe-inspiring, more wonderful, more magnificent than a common sisterhood across the globe, standing in solidarity and helping one another move the human race forward to a new day of equality for all?