Feminism is not over, our work is not done.
The fact that people still wince when Feminism comes up means there is still a lot of work to do. People wince because some parts of the media, of the ‘old boys’ club have convinced them that Feminists are mean, scary, unshaven bitches. People wince because one (or 4) Feminists they met were harsh and horrible.
I understand how that experience would shape your perception, but here’s the thing:
Some Feminists may be mean, scary, unshaven bitches, they might be harsh and horrible, but that’s not because they were Feminists, that’s because they are mean, scary, harsh, horrible people, the Feminist part is a coincidence. They don’t know how to make their points any other way.
I had some rotten teachers when I was in school, that didn’t make me decide all teachers were rotten. I’ve been served by some pretty lousy customer service people, that didn’t make me decide all customer service people were lousy. And I’ve met some socialists who wanted to destroy everyone in their path who disagreed with them, and others who just wanted change to happen, and they were willing to keep pushing until it did. That didn’t make me think all socialist were nutjobs.
I’m a Feminist (obviously), please do me the courtesy of judging me for who I am, not because you once met someone who used the same label and made it a bad thing.
AND consider, perhaps, that maybe that harsh (or not so harsh) person put you on the defensive. Humans seem to lean toward binaries, so to like one thing means to dislike another, so if you hear Feminist, maybe you automatically jump to the idea that Feminists are anti-masculine. Let go of that for a second and consider what else that could mean – you don’t have to let me convince you, just consider the possibility that you don’t have the whole picture. You can also do a quick read of this great Tomato Nation post to see what Feminism is really about.
I confess, I used to be put off by Feminism. When I was a teenager I believed I was equal to the guys but I was afraid of the backlash from calling myself a Feminist so I would use that stupid line ‘I’m not a Feminist but I believe in equal rights.’ That was me claiming my space while hiding from a label that might cause me hassle. Sometime in my 20s, I stopped hiding and just claimed Feminism.
Feminism is about equal rights for women. AND equal rights for men. It’s about breaking down this gender bullshit that we pretend is natural, and deciding for ourselves how we want to contruct and conduct ourselves. It’s not about putting men down, and it’s not about exalting women. It’s about seeing how our current social structure is failing us all.
It’s about fixing a society that dismisses women, it’s about getting rid of the lousy idea that women are men’s property – to be used, abused and tossed aside. No not EVERY man thinks that, of course not, it’s very few, but until we have a better structure for dealing with the ones that do, we need Feminists calling attention to the system that supports that attitude. And our system does. Big time. I know you, as a reasonable person, don’t, but the system was designed when women were considered property and we haven’t rooted out and eliminated all the parts that still function that way.
Feminists see all this change as needing to start with fixing women’s current status, that’s why we use the word FEMinism. We need to bring women up to the position of men, and then when everyone is at the same table, on the same level playing field, we can make even more change.
The thing is though, bringing women to the table, onto the field, that will help free men too. We’re not looking to downgrade the masculine, we’re looking to get riddy of the shitty parts of both masculinity and femininity – the parts that say that men aren’t capable of behaving themselves, the parts that say that women can expect to live off men, that kind of thing.
I’m a Feminist for me, for my Sisters, for my Mother, for my Mother-in-Law, and for my female friends. I’m a Feminist for my husband, my sons, my Dad, my Father-in-law, my Brothers-in-law and my male friends. I’m a Feminist for you.
I want change in our world. I want everyone to be able to live the lives they choose unconstrained by outdated notions of masculinity and femininity. Yeah, I know that’s a big wish, but if we don’t keep trying it will never happen.