Back in January my university held a Diversity Awareness Program. It was pretty good. I always go to events like these so it was nice to see unfamiliar faces.
At one point the instructor says “Raise your hand if you do not identify as a feminist” One girl raises her hand so he asks her why. She says that she doesn’t want to identify as a feminist because she believes that all people should be equal…
The instructor says, “Raise your hand if you believe that men and women should have equal rights” EVERYONE (including this girl) raises their hand. The instructor says “Congratulations! You are a feminist!”
Later, all of the women are asked to sit in a circle in the middle of the room and discuss men. Someone talks about an observation of participation between men and women in a sports related class. This lead to someone asking about how they feel when they are lifting weights next to a guy in the gym vs next to a girl. Someone goes on to mention that sometimes they feel intimidated next to guys *side note* I understand the intimidation thing to an extent. Honestly I’m the kind of person that just doesn’t get intimidated often, because people can judge me all they want and it has no affect on me. Why should it? But my issue with this is that most of the time guys are going to lift more than girls. It’s just the way their bodies are built. On the other hand, there are some girls who can lift like it’s their job. Everyone is different, it’s really not that big a deal. *End side note* So then, the instructor asks for thoughts on how the conversation went and this same girl says “I think it’s interesting how the conversation ended up being about how men are bad…” WHAT?! WTF? NO ONE SAID THAT! No woman in this room thinks that men are bad. The conversation was simply about how some women feel intimidated at the gym. How the hell does that correlate to men being bad? And if you (like me) don’t feel that way, it doesn’t really matter because that is someone else’s reality, You don’t have to fit into it.
So that and a few other things that I’ve seen lately made me wonder where these stupid, misleading stigmas about feminism came from. Feminism is not about burning your bras, or hating men. Being a feminist (and yes, I am a feminist) means that I believe that I should have the same rights as a man. And yes, sexism actually does exist and there is proof (wage gap)! On the other hand, that does not mean that the feminist movement is about women overshadowing men. Again this is about gender equality. So men should also have all of the resources that women do. A lot of people have a false belief that men can’t get sexually abused. News flash: they do. And there are tons of counselors out there and shelters for women that should also be accessible to men. The very first U.S. shelter for male abuse victims opened up this year in Arizona. It’s a start but there’s still a long way to go.
There’s also some sort of hatred for the word feminism that I don’t get. I literally had someone tell me that they didn’t want to identify as a feminist (even though they believed in everything that it stood for) because they didn’t want to be associated with the negative stigma of the word. So basically, what you’re saying is that you’re choosing not to identify as something that you are, because you’re afraid of what other people will think? Who the hell cares what they think. You just worry about being you!
Moral of the story: Before you go talking down on feminism, educate yourself. And if you believe in gender equality (yeah, it makes you a feminist too) then educate other people when you hear them make sexist comments (that includes comments about men, women and gender non-conforming individuals)
So when it comes to feminists “We need more of those and if you still hate the word, it is not the word that is important. It’s the idea and the ambition behind it.” ~Emma Watson