Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Let's Talk About Feminism

Hello there everyone! In case you all didn't know, I identify as a feminist, and a very enthusiastic one at that. Due to recent attention towards feminist extremists, I thought I should clarify the different schools of thought that exist within feminism. 

     Many people see feminists as man haters. People think that the feminist movement is out to gain female supremacy. I know a lot of people who are completely against feminists because they believe that to be a feminist, you must: a) hate men b) think all men are rapists/creeps c)wish to control men and  reverse sexism. Feminists have begun to be portrayed as uber-sexist, power hungry man haters. Now, I'm sure there are some good examples of women out there who identify as feminists and practice these beliefs and behaviors. After all, this stereotype had to come from somewhere. But, that's just the thing. It's a stereotype. Meaning that yes, some self-identified feminists act this way. Some, but not all

      However, this stereotype has become so widespread that it has caused a huge backlash against the feminist movement as a whole, rather than just targeting the sect which believes in man-hating and reversed inequality. This backlash is everywhere, from the way people speak, write, and think about feminists to spawning actual movements and trends such as the "I don't need feminism because..." theme on tumblr and other social media outlets. The scope of the movement as well as the stereotype are encapsulated perfectly in this picture:

     According to her statement in this picture, this girl believes in equality. Good for her, because so do I! But, wait a minute. I'm a feminist. But I believe in equality. Hmm. According to the previously discussed stereotype, something is wrong here. 

     Alright, let's clear this up. First, we need to look at the other side of the coin. There are feminists who are, in fact, the very opposite of the stereotype (what? YES). Feminists who believe in gender equality, who know that men also have issues with gender stereotyping, and who basically believe in equal rights for everyone, no matter what race, socio-economic class, sexuality, or gender. Basically, this kind of feminist believes in good vibes for everybody. 

      Don't take my word for it, though! A few weeks ago, a professor at UCSC, Bettina Aptheker, gave an excellent lecture based off of her working definition of feminism, which you can read here. Aptheker is an important part of the feminist movement, and I, for one, think she does a great job of representing those feminists who believe in the total equality of all peoples. So you see, there may be feminists who do indeed adhere to common stereotypes. But there are also many awesome, people-loving, equality-seeking feminists out there who are great people. The really interesting aspect of this conflict is that many people who are against feminism on the grounds that it is sexist, man-hating, etc.. agree with the breed of feminist I am discussing here. Here is an excellent piece of photographic proof: 

      Now, compare this photo with the one above it. Both girls advocate gender equality, yes? However, one supports feminism, and one does not. Hm. It seems to me that these two, who are seemingly opposed, actually share the same viewpoint. How nice. 

     Maybe that can clear up a little confusion. What we see is that feminism is not all bad, and that those who claim to be against feminism may need to do a little more research into the movement before condemning it based on a stereotype. 

     However, my question is, why is this a problem? Where did the divide between radical, man-hating feminists and peaceful, equality-supporting feminists come from? The fact that feminists must constantly defend and clarify their cause is irritating as well as hindering to progress. I hope that by writing this article, I will have cleared up at least one person's misconception of feminism as a whole. 

     Please just remember that before you say something to yourself or someone else about how wrong or crazy feminism is, remember that there is more than one kind of feminist, and that she or he is fighting for your gender rights as well hers or his. Thank you!

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