Check your privilege!
Recently, I’ve been seeing a massive influx of photos of ‘WomenAgainstFeminism’ posting their own reasons why they say no to feminism. Oh sweet misguided children. You’ve probably seen them too, some of them take previous posts from the popular campaign #YesAllWomen and carefully explain why all this feminist nonsense is just an excuse for us gals to have a good bitching session. Apparently we like playing the victim when situations don’t go our way and blaming it on the patriarchy is just attention seeking at its finest. Most of these reasons seem to centre on the idea that feminism isn’t about equality. How can it be if it only focuses on one gender? (It doesn’t incidentally) and that it’s just an opportunity for women to give excuses for personal failings (also not true). Another thing they all seem to have in common is a fundamental misunderstanding of what feminism is and what it’s already achieved so far. You can’t have it both ways and say that feminism is totally unnecessary whilst enjoying all the rights it’s given you; being able to vote, being paid the same wage as your male counterparts, to use birth control, to be considered valued members of society etc…
What it really exposes is a level of ignorance about what gender equality really means and their own relatively privileged status, as people who have never experienced the kind of crippling sexism that in some countries stops women living their everyday lives. It makes light of the harassment, abuse, discrimination and objectification that many women experience on a daily basis. It’s a frustrating thing to watch someone explain, in a very self-satisfied way that they’re not feminists, but they support gender equality and everything that goes along with it. Sometimes it’s funny to watch someone dig their own grave and hop right into it, but this is just plain baffling. These people seem to relish telling people why they aren’t feminists, imagining themselves to be radical, forward thinking and ahead of their time. They then proceed to describe what they do believe in. We already have that, it’s called feminism. It’s not about one gender’s superiority over another, it’s about ensuring that men and women are treated equally in all aspects of life. It’s as simple as that, (or so you’d think).
The reason it’s called feminism, is because it’s trying to ensure women have equal rights to men, as we live in a historically patriarchal world. Feminists don’t hate men. Feminists don’t believe women are superior to men. One of the most obvious and asinine retorts I hear a lot when I mention to people I’m a feminist is this; “How can it be about equality when it’s called FEMinism, you wouldn’t want it to be called MASCULISM would you?” It’s not about establishing male rights for the same reason you don’t get the red mushroom in Mario kart when you’re already in the lead. You don’t need the help. Another corker is “Sexism doesn’t happen..I mean, maybe in some parts of the world where, like, women aren’t allowed to go to school or whatever..but not in this country. In this day and age”. Haha. Hahahahaha. AHAHAHA. In the words of Russell Brand, you are essentially, an oxygen thief.
It’s a difficult one, on the one hand a part of me is desperate to alleviate these people from their incorrect assumptions and explain to them what feminism REALLY means and why it’s an important step in the right direction for equality in society. Another part of me thinks if I have to convince you, we don’t need you on our side. If someone said to you, “I think black people are equal to white people, I’m not a racist, I support racial equality”, they wouldn’t be getting a pat on the back, you’d be thinking, well, good. You’d expect that as standard in a modern society. As far as I’m concerned, the same goes for feminism. You don’t get brownie points in my book for telling me you believe in gender equality. Good for you, that makes you part of a sensible majority. A lot of guys wouldn’t call themselves feminists for the simple reason they don’t like the name, it comes with a lot of stereotypical baggage and feminine connotations. “It sounds a little gay”. Being gay or girly are bad things, obviously, who would voluntarily want to be associated with that?! There are so many things wrong with that I don’t even know where to start. God forbid they endanger their tenuous grasp on masculinity (whatever that is), by being associated with anything a bit girly. Get over yourself. If you’re that worried about appearing manly you have some deep seated insecurities that you need to sort out in your own time. All this might seem fairly innocuous given the level of ignorance of some of the people posting, but a small number of people are taking this tripe seriously and that’s enough to make it worth addressing.
However, there’s an unforeseen upside to this misguided madness as the internet does what it does best and mercilessly takes the piss. These posts have given birth to some of the most fantastically sarcastic, hilarious replies on Twitter curtsey of for example, @NoToFeminism. Some of these gems include; “I don’t need fesimnim because I prefer old men to be in charge of my reproductive system it is comforting like putting on grandads cardigan.” and my own personal favourite,“I don’t need femisimi because wondering if I’m going to be attacked just walking home really gets my blood racing it is like free drugs!!!!!”.
So to sum up, feminism doesn’t make women victims, it doesn’t mean you think women are better than men and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re against gender equality. That would be sexism. It’s important to know which one’s which.