Feminism tends to get a bad rap. People often mistake the ideology of feminism for the subgroup of feminism, called radical feminism. When this happens, they assume that feminists hate men and are “crazy.” Others say “Why do we need feminism? Women have rights now so there is no need for it.” Well, we will always need it, because feminism is a good ideology that not only uplifts women and advocates for their rights, but it also advocates for men’s rights. In this article, I will be explaining why and how feminism is for everyone and why we still need it.
For most of my life, I too correlated feminism with women with crazy hair who hated men. That was until I actually sat down and learned about it. Feminism started off with the first wave, focusing on giving opportunities to women, including allowing them to vote and giving them property rights. Second-wave feminism was when the sexual revolution occurred. Second-wave focused on reproductive rights, brought about changes in divorce and custody laws, and Roe vs. Wade allowed women to have reproductive freedom and gave women the right to educational equality. Third-wave feminism focused on diffusing sexual harassment as well as putting an emphasis on placing more women in positions of power. Then we learn about different kinds of feminism, such as intersectional feminism. It recognizes everyone’s needs. Intersectional feminism includes people of all races, ethnicities and genders. Yes, that includes men as well. Men need feminism too because of the patriarchal society that we still live in that does not allow men to express themselves emotionally or creatively due to being seen as feminine. The patriarchy views being feminine, as “bad.” This outlook can be very dangerous because this is exactly why many men suffer from depression and suicide; they do not feel as if they can cry, be emotional, or be vulnerable to their friends without being seen as weak, or “gay.” It teaches men that being aggressive and not showing emotion are “manly” traits. They bottle up their emotions and they can explode into anger because they were taught that they were not allowed to deal with their emotions. That’s why changing our language is so important. Saying phrases like “run like a girl,” or “boys don’t cry” are very harmful and they impose toxic gender norms onto young children that impact how they think for the rest of their lives.
Speaking of toxicity, misogyny creates an environment where toxic behaviours are allowed and brushed over. Things such as sending other people’s nudes around without their consent, watching porn in (and outside) relationships, and sexually harassing others with no punishment. These are all things that still very much happen every day and most of the time get swept under the rug. Many people still believe that these things are okay, however, they can be very traumatizing to people, mostly women, however, these things occur to men as well. More education needs to be taught about the consequences of these actions. Singer, Madison Beer in a podcast called Call Her Daddy, spoke on her story of how someone had shared her nudes at the age of 14. These photos and videos ended up on Twitter for everyone to watch, and she later attempted suicide due to the trauma she endured. Many men and women do not realize the harm of watching porn, but many women are like Madison, who never consented to have her nudes shared, for millions of people to watch. She also spoke about how people called her a slut for this, however, she did not choose to share these, and she was 14. She also speaks to how people commented about how this was “fatherless behaviour.” They shame her instead of the supposed absent father. Again, the language we choose to use is very harmful, and we misuse it all the time. Shaming the victims, instead of the true guilty party. Shaming most commonly the women, instead of the man.
Many people think that feminism is a Western issue and that because we have rights and can vote, all is well in the world. But many often forget that the world is so much bigger than our Western society. Women around the world don’t have the same opportunities that we do. Women in Afghanistan have recently been banned from attending university. For years in China and India, mothers killed or aborted their girls because having a son was seen as a blessing, and to have a daughter was a burden. So yes, we in our Western society have it pretty good in comparison, but that is why we still need feminism.
We need it for the women around the world who still don’t have rights and are mistreated, we need it to change the stigma around femininity being bad, and we need it to educate others about toxic masculinity and misogyny.