So here’s the thing. We, feminists, get a bad rap sometimes.
Last weekend I attended an art show with family and my bf. We were having a great time, looking at pieces of art and photographs. A local jazz band was playing in one part of the building and there were appetizers laid out on tables (I sampled!). Then the music went quiet, and the event’s coordinator announced a slam poetry reading. Well, yes, I love poetry, and this got me excited. Live readings! The first two poems were from teen females.
The “F” word was spoken, as were a few other cuss words, in these poems. One poem was about the menstrual cycle, and both were spoken in angry voices, with a focus on how women are treated (on personal, community and more general levels). Many people looked uncomfortable at the language and the harsh tones of the voices behind the microphones, which were at odds with the calm environment of the rest of the event. A few people – men and women – said they found it highly shocking to hear, especially with many young people at the event. I said to one family member, “this is why feminists get a bad name sometimes.” You see, it makes it seem like all feminists are overcome with anger. And that we hate men.
But I don’t. And I’m a feminist.
Then I saw this on Twitter recently:
Look at that bubble of hate in the “feminist” mind. I felt ill when I saw the image. Yes, I know it was tweeted out by a parody account. But I don’t find it funny. It’s in bad taste. You’ll notice it also plays into other female stereotypes, including those about red-heads and “crazy cat ladies” (other article topics sometime, perhaps). When exactly did the word “feminist” become synonymous with hate?
Feminism: A Turn-off for Men?
Feminism has been a turn-off for at least one man I’ve known. Let me tell you a story.
I went on a first date with a guy a few years back that I had met online and we had a fun conversation when we met in person. He liked that I was witty, and I the same for him. Fast forward a few dates later, and we realized we both have public profiles – he showed me his YouTube page, and I showed him my Twitter feed. Well, he looked at the word “feminist” within my Twitter bio and went “Woah, you didn’t tell me that” (me paraphrasing). Let’s just say he found that word a turn-off and wasn’t shy about telling me so.
It could be that he’s been met with angry women before who identified themselves to him as feminists – and believe me I DO get their anger. I get the poems being said at the art event I went to were likely in an effort to stand up for the past generations of females that have been wronged. Trust me I get it. But why do we have to be shocking and yelling in tone to get our points across? Wouldn’t respectful voices get more of a positive reaction? I know I don’t do well when someone raises their voice at me – I usually get my back up when that happens and don’t listen clearly.
What Feminism Is, and Isn’t
To me, feminism is not about “let’s put down men to help women get what we deserve.” NO. I believe that for women to reach gender equality, we must work with men rather than being against them. It will take all of society to move toward equality.
BUT let this please be known. To anyone who says gender equality is already here, I disagree. There’s the #MeToo movement. And yes I know that sexual harassment in the workplace affects men as well as women. It affects more than twice as many women as men though, as per a 2017 CNBC survey.
I believe that feminism is about equality in society, politics and all other rights between the sexes. So, is that a turn-off? And do we have to use a shocking tone of voice to shake up a peaceful art event to share this message?
What I am also saying is that feminism is not about being “the same.” We have different physical attributes, obviously. So we cannot get to the same physicality between genders most of the time. Even between guys and between girls there are different levels of strength. Instead, feminism is about equal RIGHTS and OPPORTUNITIES.
Rethinking Assumptions about Feminism
Are there extremes when it comes to feminist attitudes? As with most things, I’m sure there are. But to anyone who is against the term feminism I ask that you please understand we’re not all man-haters. Or searing with anger 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I have a boyfriend I adore, a father I love deeply, and one of my best friends is a guy. And, yes, I’m a feminist.
What are your thoughts on feminists being grouped together as man-haters?