By: Darragh Dandurand Friedman
Yes. Women (and men) need feminism. Why? Well feminism is actually the movement for equal rights, not a man-hating joke that it’s cracked up to be. Feminism at its core is the belief that all men and women are created equal and therefore should be given the same opportunities, treatment and respect. For the most part, that’s the simple answer. Feminism is actually multi-layered and can be studied as an academic field, let alone lived as a life style. We all need to understand what feminism represents and how positive a movement it is.
I am always so disheartened when someone tells me that they care about women’s rights, but that they don’t want to call themselves a feminist simply because the word often has a negative connotation. To this I say that if you do care about equality and civil rights you should be a feminist and you probably are a closet one, you are just scared of a word. Yes, you’re scared of a word. Redefine it, baby! Make it your own! Learn to love it and learn to live it because only good things can come of being a conscious human being.
Although as a feminist I sometimes feel that the world is against me, this savory angst does not rear its ugly head often. Normally I feel this way when someone tells me my ideas of gender and sex equality are outdated or unneeded or, in the words of my grandmother, “embarrassed for you to be practicing the politics you practice.” But in reality, feminism and feminists do not have the “world” against us. Instead you may be surprised to know that there is a global network of feminists working for recognition, peace and civil rights. They go by different names, are different colors and speak different languages. Some are religious and some are not. Some are attracted to men and others to women. Some of these activists are even men. Some feminists believe that equality is near and others don’t. Some study feminist theory in school (me!) and others are carrying picket signs on the street or online.
Our world is a beautiful one, but it’s far from perfect, just like each and every person on it. There are days when sometimes I think it would be easier if I did not care so deeply about feminism and all that it stands for, but then I realize how much more wonderful it is to identify as a feminist because I believe it is right and it governs the way I live. I cannot imagine not studying, practicing and working for feminism.
And, at the end of the day, we still need feminism because of the way this prompt was worded (that, and a billion other reasons!): Of course we need feminism to understand that not only women need feminism. It’s not always about being sensitive and pointing our the ills in society, it’s about realizing that we’ve got a long way to go.
Here are a few of my favorite reasons we need feminism by Andi Enns:
· Jokes are made when female babies are born – “oops, better luck next time.” – while boys are a celebration.
· Women (and girls) won’t go in public without cosmetics because they’re so afraid of being judged for their natural face.
· Despite being against the law, women are still asked in job interviews if they plan on having children, and then negatively judged for their answer either way.
· Being assertive doesn’t make me “ballsy,” since assertiveness doesn’t come from testicles.
· Saying “I don’t want kids” is met with “You’ll change your mind, when you meet the right man.” Men who don’t want kids are accepted.
· Women are expected to tidy communal spaces at work and school after men leave the room.
· As the only woman in a meeting, you’re expected to be the secretary.
· “Slut” and “whore” are still insults, because it’s shameful to be a sexual woman.
· We’re still held to “lady like” standards at home and work – no such standard is a barrier for men. It’s funny when men fart, but disgusting when women do it. It’s ok when men swear, but on women it’s uncouth.
· Girls are still told “It means he likes you” when boys hit them. Violence is touted as flattery.
· Women who keep their maiden name after the wedding have to justify it for the rest of their life. Men aren’t asked to change their identity just because they get married.