The issues with modern feminism, and how to fix them.
Why it’s not about hating men and burning our bras
By Jamie Ballard
WITH PERMISSION VIA TWITTER
I feel awkward calling myself a feminist, though I know I shouldn’t. It’s because I don’t always fit into the popular interpretation of the word as a man-hating, sexually adventurous, perpetually pissed-off woman.
It’s refreshing to see the stereotype acknowledged, at least. Man-hating, miserable sluts generally evokes the old “you don’t understand feminism” card, which is usually followed by zero evidence to refute the man-hating, miserable slut trope.
Jamie is pretty adorable though. There is hope here. I know it!
The way my boyfriend (who does believe in gender equality) described it was “Feminism feels like being yelled at for something I didn’t personally do.” And he has a good point. Some people think about feminism in words like “patriarchal society” and “female oppression” and “rape culture.” These things all have validity, but too often they’re used to paint everyone with a broad brush. Are you a cis-gender man with a penis? Then you’re part of the oppressive patriarchal society and it’s your fault women suffer from economic, social, and political discrimination.
Men are not a monolith, they can not be held responsible for things they did not actually do or privileges they do not actually have or powers they do not actually wield?
Where have I heard that before?
Seems wrong, doesn’t it?
Another issue to be found with particular brands of feminism is that sometimes while it claims to be empowering women, it actually allows women to blame society for our issues, thusly playing the victim rather than actually forcing ourselves to make progress. When we complain about the wage gap or rape culture or not being able to have a career and a family, we brush off any personal responsibility. “Society” is not to blame for these flaws. If we’re supposed to be these strong and empowered people, then why aren’t we acting like it?
There is no wage gap, women are infantalized and treated as perpetual victims and encouraged to reject the concepts of personal responsibility and accountability and instead blame “society”, by which we mean “patriarchy”, by which we mean “men”?
I swear I have heard all this stuff somewhere before. Where was it?
This isn’t to say we’ve achieved total gender equality – there are still problems that need to be solved. But let’s actually work towards solving them.
Great idea! Let’s work towards solving problems instead of just whining about oppression that doesn’t exist for white, college-educated feminists.
Instead of complaining about the wage gap, work so hard that they have no choice but to pay you more. Instead of complaining about how we live in a world that says “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape,” start educating other people. Instead of fretting about your career and family coexisting, realize that millions of women do both without any significant damage to either aspect of their lives.
Work hard and erase the hours worked gap? Educate both men and women about what is and is not rape and what sexual consent actually means and that everyone can be both victims and perpetrators? Millions of women work and raise a family with no damage to either?
This is the absolute key lie that feminism has taught you, Jamie.
If you do choose to have children, and have the presence of mind to do that within the legal bonds of matrimony and you decide that those bonds cannot be broken by anything but the most intolerable abuse, then you are going to find out a very harsh truth: leaving your baby to go sit in a cubicle is going to kill you.
Rip your heart out.
That is the reality for most women. They hate going to work and paying someone else to raise their children but they have not set up their lives or marriages or relationships to give them an honest choice. Most women who have small children would prefer to work part-time, if at all. Most women who are working do so because they MUST. They have not made choices that give them any choices.
But maybe that’s not you. Okay. Maybe you are gonna sail out the door with a big smile totally glad to get away from that screaming kid for 8 hours! Some women are like that. You will have no problems.
But what if you’re not? What if you are one of the woman who sit weeping at their desks sick to their souls at what they are doing?
I would think it through. Very carefully.
Instead of acting like a victim, recognize that equal opportunity doesn’t mean equal outcome. Women and men, in nearly all cases, do have the same opportunities. It’s what we make of them that’s differing.
Men do not have a system of privileges that they use to keep women down? Women make different choices. This is feeling rather familiar, again.
Here’s what I think of feminism: neither men nor women are superior, and we need both genders to be empowered and cooperative. People are people, and while we differ in a lot of ways, everyone is a part of our social fabric. There are men in my life I love, and women in my life I love. So how can I say one of these groups is superior? How can I pit them against one another? And how can women expect respect from men if they don’t respect them as well?
Respect is mutual and must be earned? Demonizing entire groups is counterproductive to society?
Are there issues with how women are treated? Absolutely. But writing this article, or a ranting tumblr post won’t really change that. What will change that is genuine action, be it by volunteering somewhere, educating people, or by just being so kickass at what you do that it doesn’t matter what’s between your legs.
I has a little sad here. You’re so close, Jamie. Yes there are issues with how women are treated. There are issues with how almost everyone except the very rich are treated but feminism has blinkered you to only focus on or care about women. You just wrote that you have men you love. Can you care about them and their issues too?
I want to get married and raise kids someday, and that doesn’t make me a bad feminist. Nor does my desire to have serious relationships, instead of numerous sexual escapades. But likewise, women who choose not to start a family, or who do have multiple partners aren’t bad feminists. Neither of us are holding back the cause.
Here’s a question though: why should any man want to marry you? What does marriage hold for men? You may choose parenthood. He may not. You may break apart your marriage for the most spurious of reasons but you are extremely unlikely to be turned into a mommy the kids only see every other weekend. You can force a man to support children that are not even biologically his! You can choose to work or stay at home.
He is betting half his stuff and his kids that you won’t walk out. Why would he do that?
I’m feminine in the conventional sense. And I’m proud of it. But I respect masculinity as well.
I love that you are feminine in the conventional sense, and that you respect masculinity and it gives me hope that you might just take the final leap and really get it!
I am a feminist.
You’re a Men’s Human Rights Activist.
Lots of love,