Feminism needs your help. What’s that? You’re not a feminist? Good news! You’re wrong! Here’s why:
- You don’t know what feminism means (nothing to be ashamed of),
- You are blind to inequality (only a little embarrassing, but easily repaired),
- You are willfully misogynist (go ahead and be ashamed).
Feminism is not man-hating or bra-burning. Bras are expensive. Feminism simply means you’re aware that women face inequality, and you’re not cool with that. Lets assume you are not a fan of racism. You’re not against racism because you’re a revolutionary, you’re against it because you’re not an ass. It’s the same with feminism. You’re not a feminist because you hate men, you’re a feminist because you don’t hate women. Feminism is the radical push to treat 50% of our population as human beings.
Feminism: Where did you come from, where did you go?
Feminism needs your help. It’s not some bold new cause; women have been screaming that they’re not just objects in a man’s society for as long as we’ve been a society. Just ask Lucretia. She was raped by a prince and then started the revolution that pushed Western civilization toward democracy. She’s the one in that painting there, stabbing herself to death to prevent future rapists from getting away with their crimes without consequences. The Roman Republic was a result of the ensuing revolution. It was like democracy, but with more togas—you may have heard of it. This was 510 BCE. Yup, feminists have been working on the same problems further back than the year zero. Seriously. It’s getting old.
Hard to imagine a world, 2,500 years later, in which women are still objectified, victimized, and marginalized in the exact same ways. Unless you have—I don’t know—eyes. Women continue to earn less than men and suffer more workplace harassment. Women are fed a constant toxic blend of societal slut-shaming and prude-bashing. More than one in four women in the US are still victims of rape or attempted rape. ONE in f****ing FOUR. Elliot Rodger brought the male-chauvinist “Men’s Rights” movement into the light with his recent insane killing spree, but the problem doesn’t lie with a minority of monsters. It lies with me. It lies with you.
Modern Feminism: #YesAllWomen
Feminism needs your help. Recently, the issue trended on twitter with a couple catchy hashtags. Here is a quick glossary of terms for some reference:
- Twitter—A place to go to contribute in or observe as a spectator the death of literacy and respectful discourse. Also, a site on which beautiful things occasionally happen.
- Hashtag—A word or phrase posted on twitter with a # as a prefix, enabling others to speak on the same subject and connect. Helpful in linking such pivotal issues as art, politics, and how well one can type “OneDirection” with one’s nose.
- #NotAllMen—A common defense positing the obvious fact that not every man on Earth is a D-bag. Also a satirical hashtag movement created to deride men who use this point to derail discussions about feminism.
- #YesAllWomen—A hashtag movement which shifted the focus from accusation and condescension to the very real effects of widespread societal misogyny on, yes, literally every woman in the world.
If you’ve not read any #YesAllWomen posts, then leave right now and go read a few. They’re moving. The beauty of the trend is that it stopped focusing on who to blame for the problem, and started focusing on accepting that there is a problem (which is the first step to recovery, if my vast experience with TV shows about addicts has taught me anything).
#NotAllMen, the sarcastic precursor to #YesAllWomen, was a flawed effort. It was, perhaps, a necessary one that brought about some good discussion, but it was inherently faulty—and it’s worthwhile to learn from its shortcomings. The first problem with #NotAllMen is that it’s true. Not all men are guilty of the specific crimes in question. The discussions these posts derail are far more important than the hurt feelings of the privileged—but maligning the male gender as a whole isn’t feminism, it’s misandry, against which a defensive reaction is natural. Do women deserve to be misandrists after years of misogyny? They sure as hell do! Will it fix anything? No. Feminism needs men, and it especially needs those men who are on the line—thinking about it, but not sure if they belong in the same camp. Mocking and alienating these men is the opposite of helpful.
The second problem with #NotAllMen is that it focuses on men alone. Don’t get me wrong, men act the part, but society sets the stage. Men do the raping, but our society promotes rape-culture. Men take positions of pride and power, but our society expects that of men and insults any signs of weakness, just as it expects women to be docile and supportive and insults their boldness. This is no excuse for monstrous acts, but we need to attack the root of the problem in addition to dealing with the thorns.
I married the smartest, most creatively talented human being I’ve ever met. It was not a male chauvinist who told her that she shouldn’t take an AP math class because “it’s harder for girls.” It was a female guidance counselor. It was not a male chauvinist who read her high school poetry and said, “This is good, did your boyfriend help you?” It was a female teacher. It is not a male chauvinist today who soaks up her supportive encouragement and frequently forgets to give it back. That one’s me. I’m working on it. She deserves better.
Men ARE guilty. Yes, ALL men, but not JUST men. Men and women together are guilty of allowing these stereotypes to persist. WE are guilty of “Man up,” and “don’t be a girl.” WE are guilty of “boys will be boys,” and “a woman’s place.” WE are guilty of Beauty and the Beast and Twilight and every action movie ever filmed. WE set the stage and rehearse the strong-man and weak-woman roles until we assume that there is no other way to be.
There is another way to be. It’s called feminism. It needs your help.