My response to knee-jerk reactions to the word feminism
Occasionally I feel the need to post something with the word “feminism” in it to see which of my male friends react, and how. I find that if there is a negative reaction it’s usually the same complaint. What that complaint usually boils down to is, “I’m sick of feeling guilty for being a man. You have your rights now so be quiet.”
I’m sorry that you feel my desire for actual equality means you have to feel guilty. You don’t. If you are a man and you have a problem with feminism, you don’t get it. Because you are a man.
Every single day I have to face the million little signs that I am not considered the equal of my male peers. Most of them are innocent enough, a sort of benign sexism. At work, online, on the street. I see it in the way other women think of themselves, this insidious feeling of inferiority, weakness, that never goes away. In all but the strongest of us, it pervades everything we do. The way my social currency goes down in value as I age, gain weight, or simply choose not to make an effort with my hair and makeup one day. The way I am automatically taken less seriously at work unless I assert myself almost forcefully. The way people are surprised when I do.
I see this inequality when men who express vulnerability are told to “man up” or are called pussies. I see it in the bitterness of men who are told it is not themselves women value but their status objects. I see it in the unreasonable expectations placed on both genders because of their genders. I see it woven into the very fabric of our language where masculine words express power and strength and feminine words express weakness.
This is patriarchy, and it is a load of shit. Feminism is not a dirty word. It is a movement that demands closer examination of our culture and our assumptions. It is not about being bitter, or taking away men’s rights. It is about not being content now that we aren’t barefoot, pregnant and confined to the kitchen anymore, not being content to be allowed to vote, not being content because we are “relatively equal” when compared to some other societies, or our own 100 years ago. It’s about not being content until we are actually equal, meaning also that we’ve rectified the social pressures on men to play their prescribed roles as well. It’s about calling out those prescribed roles for the complete bullshit that they are and fixing this.
So please don’t take my feminism as a personal affront, an attack on men or a war waged in bitterness. I see it as a social responsibility and necessary, though I’m sure my hopes will not be fulfilled in my lifetime.