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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

To be or not to be a feminist?

About a year ago I decided I no longer self identified as a feminist. I had my reasons which I will outline. Feminism has historically been about women’s rights. It grew out of the 17th century European Enlightenment, which placed emphasis on reason, rational and critical thinking, rather than accepting the dogmatic and rigid structures of absolutism brought to us by faith. Western society was predominately male-dominated; women had little political rights such as the right to vote, and there were few women up-holding positions of economic power and high social status.

Nowadays, things have changed. Saying ‘nothing’s changed’ completely ignores all of the incredible work feminism has done for women over the past few centuries. Women can vote, drive, go to uni, not go to uni, have kids, not have kids – etc etc. I believe that in the West (i.e Europe, North America, Canada and Oceania) we no longer live in a patriarchal society. Women are no longer second class citizens, and men and women more or less have positions of equal status considering social, political and economic rights. Needless to say, that doesn’t mean issues of gender roles affect both women and men today (yeah, sexism against men is a thing), but it does mean that the original issues have shifted.

Herein lays my main problem with the modern feminist movement. Ban Bossy? Dressing up little girls and making them curse? The modern feminist movement has completely missed the point of original first and second wave feminism. First of all, feminism is a WOMEN’S movement. It had nothing to do with gay rights, trans rights or men’s rights originally – the LGBT movement and the feminist movement are two different things. Secondly, the world has changed. We’re not living in the 1800s or 1963 anymore. The same things that affected women back then no longer affect women now. I’ve never felt unable to do something because I’m a woman. I’ve been able to work, have an education, vote, walk around without being accompanied by a guy and generally live life like a normal person. There are real problems facing modern women that the feminist movement doesn’t really seem to be doing anything about, and I’m not just talking FGM or domestic violence. What about the problem of women trying to balance motherhood and a career as a result of feminism? Of course women should have careers and high ambitions, but if I don't know how she does it is anything to go by, having a high powered job and being expected to do most of the childcare stuff seems to be an over-expectation that would drive anyone round the bend.

Making a problem out of something which isn’t there like some of these crazy misandric feminists do is just putting the entire movement to shame. ‘Oh no, a guy called me pretty and opened the door for me – he thinks I’m beneath him!’ Seriously?

Feminism has become something of a fashion trend rather than actually caring about the deeper problems women used to face outlined by 20th century academics like Simone De Beauvoir and Germaine Greer. It’s almost ‘cool’ to jump on the ‘feminist wave.’ Why do I need to call myself a feminist? Can’t I just be a person who cares about male and female equality without giving myself a label? I love How to be a woman, but the original feminist movement was a bit more serious than ‘having a vagina and wanting to be in control of it.’ We can be pro-equality for women, men, LGBT people and people of every ethnic background without having to give ourselves unnecessary labels just to jump on the Liberal trend.

7 comments:

  1. I think the reason you don't identify as a feminist is because you've slightly misunderstood what feminism is. No, your right, the feminist movement taking place now is nothing like the 1st wave of feminism nor the 2nd wave. Just as the 2nd was nothing like the first.
    The first wave was about equality in the eyes of the law (the right to vote, the right to an education etc. It's all legislative).
    The second wave was about sexual equality and the sexual liberation of women (contraceptive rights & abortion - still legislative but also socially entrenched).
    Unlike the 1st and 2nd, which so heavily focussed on the white woman (generally middle class), the third wave (which we are currently in) is about understanding the varying levels of female oppression. Working class women, women of colour or women with disabilities etc are all facing multitudes of social issues on top of their patriarchal oppression. Women of colour are less likely to report their victimisation to the police whether they are the victim of a white or black man. Yes, this is a racial issue but it is also an issue for women and the more unified a social movement can be, the better. There is power in numbers and the fact that the third wave supports so many interlocking social movements can only serve to produce stronger, fairer social change that serves the interests of many.

    Abyway, that's why I'm a feminist xoxo

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    1. Fair enough, but can't one say that men also face social issues such as being less likely to have custody of their children, generally serving longer prison sentences, and simple things like being expected to be 'manly' men but also being in touch with their soft 'feminine' side? I would say the issue of masculinity is just as prominent as issues facing modern women, and the misandric side of feminism (although I am well aware that many feminists are not misandrists) doesn't seem to take into account men's rights and some even view men's rights activism as an abomination.

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    2. No doubt men face lots of social inequality but feminism supports that struggle too. Feminism fights the gender stereotyping that forces men AND women to adopt roles that oppress them. Changing the name of the movement doesn't change it's intent (gender equality/feminism are synonymous). Also, just to let you know that women who have children are actually more likely to be punished more harshly by the law whereas men, fathers or not, tend to have similar sentences. Why should women be defined by our ability to reproduce and men by their actions? Now that's an abomination.

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  2. Ok, so I have a few questions.

    1. Do Feminists care about children, and if so, what do they think about white children when they get older. Would they still care about their future and what happens to them? Examples being: Rape, torture, suicide, depression, and other stuff like that?

    2. Why do feminists get to bully, and beat non feminists and get away with it like in those youtube videos? And why do they cover up the cameras in the videos? That just makes them look more suspicious when you show it to the officers.

    3. Lets say that for some reason in the future, a president was elected who gave feminists everything they wanted. Do you think that they would be happy and stop being jerks or do you think they would still cause trouble?

    I'm sorry if all this is confusing and whatnot, but I am just a dumb teen trying to figure out the world before he steps into the deep end. Also, I have a few other questions, but I think the first three are a good enough start. Thanks for reading this.

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    1. 1) I'm sure most feminists care about children, unless they don't really like children. I think they only wouldn't care about white children if they were racists. Feminism fought for women to get the biggest say in child custody, as it's believed that 'the woman should raise kids better.' I find this ironic as I thought feminism was about challenging traditional gender roles but as a movement it is a bit all over the place hence why you are confused. (And so am I to be honest, hence why I stopped identifying with it). I am sure the average feminist does not wish any of those things on anyone, as feminists are people and most people are not fundamentally cruel. Most people don't wish rape or pain on others. I would say this is to do with the person as an individual, not whether or not they were a feminist.

      2) Again this is based on the individual person. People do stuff like that because they're horrible. They become so wrapped up in their ideology and their agenda that they beat up anyone who dares disagree with them. An extreme example is ISIS. It is important for us to remember that not all feminists are like that. Beating people up has nothing to do with feminism, it's about what the person themselves is like. The fundamental aims of feminism are about abolishing the patriarchy (which I believe no longer exists). It's (originally) a political and intellectual movement, not a violent one.

      3) I hope that doesn't happen because if that did happen we would live in a horrible dystopia controlled by people driven by a regressive ideology! I think because feminism is so divided it's hard to say. The main thing is that when people want something, when they get it they usually are not satisfied and start raising the bar higher and higher. That is the problem with having high expectations. Let's say you give a person everything they want; then their desires will shift and they'll want something else. That's just how humans are. Happiness is internal, not external.

      Happy to give my opinion on anything else and feel free to check out my other feminism-related posts! I'm sure you're not dumb lol. It's good to ask questions; curiosity is a sign of intelligence.

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  3. Really intriguing and interesting post! I recently wrote about feminism too, and I agree at points it can feel like the movement is becoming a trend and disregarding what it initially stood for. I think we just need to continue to remind ourselves that feminism is a movement for men and women alike in hope of a better future and society. Unfortunately, the term feminism can be warped and wrongly redefined by women who have not fully understood the concept and it can be exhausting continuing to identify as a feminist and constantly defending the movement. But we must continue, in hope that generations to come can have a happier life. (Ew that sounded really cliche)
    Loved the post. Feel free to check out mine too!

    https://theloststudentsociety.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks for your comment and I deffo will check out your blog. However I disagree; I think feminism has always been about women's rights on the grounds of being equal to men, and seeks to help women (femme) go against the male establishment (patriarchy), and so has created this us-against-them environment regarding men and women. This started to appear around the 60s and 70s, when feminism took a more radical turn, as opposed to early feminism which was more about establishing voting rights, property rights and education. In France, the feminist movement is more egalitarian than in Britain and America. (I've got some other blog posts all about this if you want to have a look - just click the 'feminism' tab on my blog).
      I prefer to describe myself as an egalitarian rather than a feminist because feminism doesn't really care about men's rights, it's only ever been about women.

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