feminist mythbusting, part I

So, I have a confession.  This might come as a surprise, but…I am a feminist.  A big, huge, raging Crazy Feminazi™. Actually, that really shouldn’t be a surprise.  If you’ve read more than one of my posts and haven’t figured that one out for yourself, I don’t really know what to tell you.

As you’ve probably noticed, feminism has kind of been having its day in the light for the past couple years or so.  Some might even call it “trendy”.  Nowadays, it seems that every time a female celebrity gets interviewed, she gets asked the question, “Are you a feminist?”  And, I mean, I guess that’s better than asking mundane questions about their diets for their latest movies or where they get their hair done or whatever, but many of their answers have revealed something about the public’s view on this controversial topic:

People really, really don’t know what feminism even is.

Of course, I’m far from the first one to try to correct these misconceptions, but I thought I might as well add my voice to the crowd, because I really like hearing myself talk (reading myself write, whatever, same/diff).  So, without further ado, here are a few of the most common “myths” about feminism that I encounter in my trollings around the Web and in my daily life:

“Feminists hate men/think women are superior to men/think all men should die.”

One of the common celebrity answers to the “Are you a feminist?” question is “No, because I love men.”

Feminists do not hate men, nor do they think women are superior to men.  We think we are equal to men, hence why we are fighting for, you know, equality.

As with most human beings, I have a father, as well as a brother and a number of male friends whom I love and care for deeply.  They will all tell you that I’ve never tried to stab them in their sleep or slip poison into their meals in the name of female empowerment (that they know of…MWAHAHA).  I also hope to marry a dude someday, should I be able to find one who can tolerate my many personality flaws, including (but not limited to) my hatred of talking to people, my inclination to spiteful thoughts and behaviour, and my tendency to think of myself as the single most hilarious being on the planet.

What many people fail to understand is that our patriarchal society has backfired on those who built it and is also harmful to men.  Boys are taught to hide their emotions and are called “pussies” and “weak” if this conditioning fails.  The patriarchy puts an unnecessarily large stock in a guy’s “manliness” levels, which includes things such as number of sexual conquests, aggressiveness, and stoicness in the face of potentially emotional events.  This also complicates the issue of men getting raped; while it is far less common than women getting raped, it does happen and it is still an issue that needs to be addressed.  The problem is, because our society perpetuates the idea that men are inherently and unfailingly sexual beings, male rape victims are often told that they should have just “enjoyed it” and that if a guy didn’t enjoy the sex(/rape), he isn’t a “real man”.  All of this conditioning, which essentially results in the internalization of emotions, lends itself to men having a higher suicide rate than women, despite women having a higher (reported) rate of mental illnesses like depression.  Genius idea: perhaps this is because of this whole “men aren’t supposed to feel things” idiocy, leading them to feel trapped and alone when they inevitably end up feeling things, and see no other way out than death.

(Also worth noting: many of the “insults” commonly thrown at men are comparing them to girls, eg. “You throw/run like a girl!” “Don’t cry, what are you, a girl?” “Pussayyyy”, telling emotional men that they are “being a girl”, etc.  So, being compared to a girl is an insult, eh?  Interesting.)

Basically, these mythical “ball-buster, kill all men” feminists don’t actually exist.  Or, if they do, we don’t want them here and want them to go away.  Generally, when you hear a feminist stating that they “hate men”, they are talking about the institution of men.  In other words, our current societal structure that allows for men to have certain privileges over women that perpetuates itself in an endless loop, regardless of whether individual guys are actually consciously taking advantage of it.  Either that, or some dude was really rude to her that day, so she’s letting off some steam.  We are aware that not literally all men are horrendously awful people, so, guys, it would be nice if you stopped worrying about your hurt feelings and help us do something about the ones who are.

Some more handy points.
Some more handy points.


“Feminists hate traditionally feminine things, such as make-up and cooking.”

Man, people talk about us like we’re such a hateful group!  We apparently hate so many things!

Let’s take a gander at this barf-worthy article published in GQ in 2003.  And no, being a men’s magazine does not excuse this truly impressive display of idiocy.  Pretty shocking how far we’ve come since then.  (To view a scan of the full article, click here.  Nausea warning.)

Accurate.
Accurate.

So, I mean, with depictions like that, I suppose this whole stereotype doesn’t come as a surprise.

Here’s the truth: feminists are against women being forced or expected to fill traditional gender roles; however, that does not mean that if you want to wear the frilliest dress with the highest heels and the sparkliest lipstick while baking a cake, we’re not totally A-OK with you doing that.  Those of you who know me somewhat well and/or follow me on Instagram will know that some of my top hobbies are painting my nails, fashion, and baking.  I mean, how else am I supposed to get people to be friends with me if I don’t give them food?  It’s really the only reliable way I’ve been able to trick people into overlooking my horrible personality.  After all, who hates cupcakes?

In conjunction with this, presenting yourself as feminine while also being a feminist does not mean that your membership to the Feminist Club is revoked.  Contrary to what the dumbass who made this…

anita sarkeesian
We’re not going to get into GamerGate and Anita Sarkeesian today, though.

…clearly believes, you can wear lipstick and jewellery and totally still have lots of valid things to say about feminism, including issues you may have about the connotations of lipstick and jewellery.  The girl on the far right of the GQ image could be just as much of a feminist as the girl on the left.

Conversely, if a woman doesn’t feel like subscribing to traditional gender roles, ie. if she doesn’t like wearing make-up or skirts or if she’s really bad at cooking and prefers woodworking or something, she shouldn’t be hated on for that.  She shouldn’t be made to feel as if she’s “failed” as a woman.  Women shouldn’t have to be “womanly” in order to be viewed as valid human beings.

This also ties in with the whole “feminists don’t shave” thing.  Sure, some don’t, but many, myself included, do.  Personally, I really enjoy my legs feeling like dolphins, hence why I usually shave even in the winter when nobody else but me will be seeing them.  The point is, women shouldn’t be shamed for not shaving.  After all, it’s just hair.  We all have it.  You’re not going to die of infectious diseases if you touch a girl’s leg hair.  Calm the fuck down.

“Feminists don’t have a sense of humour.”

This is just silly.  I have a fantastic sense of humour.  Studies indicate that roughly 9 out of 10 people who meet me think that I am the funniest person they have ever met (citation needed).  The only things feminists don’t find funny are things that aren’t funny, such as rape jokes and “get back in the kitchen, woman” punchlines.  I fail to see how rape jokes are in any way humorous.  A classic: “It’s not rape if you yell ‘surprise’!”  Actually, it is still rape; rape is defined as engaging in sexual behaviour with a person who has not consented.  Yelling “surprise” does not negate the need for consent.  And wow, “get back in the kitchen!”  Ha!  I get it!  Because women have been traditionally delegated to household tasks, such as those committed in the kitchen!  Hilarious!

Furthermore, I know some people like to make these “jokes” with the express intent of upsetting feminists (or women in general), to which I ask: What are you, twelve years old?  If you ask me, any person who feels the need to rely on such unfunny material in order to make “jokes” is both uncreative and, well, lacking in a sense of humour.

“We don’t need feminism anymore!  Women got the right to vote ages ago, and I’ve never seen/experienced any inequality, stop whining!”

You’re right.  Women did get the right to vote ages ago (actually, it was less than 100 years ago, so it wasn’t that long ago).  The wage gap is illegal.  Rape is illegal.  Domestic violence is illegal.  Discrimination based on gender (or race, or sexual orientation, etc.) is illegal.

Fun question: Do you know what else is illegal?

Meth.

Do you know what people still do?

Meth.

Sexism didn’t end the day these things were scribed into the law; it’s far more complicated than that.  In case you haven’t noticed, the justice system is super fucked up and jumps through loopholes at every opportunity.  Rape culture is a thing.  The wage gap is still a thing.  Discrimination is still a thing.  We need to affect social change, that is, subvert our society’s systems, in order to achieve true equality.

As for the whining, picture this:  Eugene and Terrence are standing locked in a room.  Terrence is facing away from Eugene.  Every three minutes, a squirrel sneaks through a hole in the room and bites Eugene on the ankle really hard and runs away.  Eugene is understandably rather distressed.  Eugene keeps telling Terrence, “Help! There is a really time-conscious squirrel continually biting me on the ankle!”  Terrence says, “No, there isn’t, I haven’t seen any squirrels.  Stop whining, you’re making it up.”  Eugene says, “But you’re turned away!  How could you possibly see the squirrel if you don’t turn around?”  Terrence replies, “I shouldn’t have to turn around.  If there really was a squirrel, I would be able to see it, or at least hear it!” Obviously very exasperated by this point, Eugene says, “Well, then you’re clearly not listening hard enough.”

In case the subtleties of my fantastic metaphor were lost on you, Eugene represents women (and other marginalized groups), Terrence represents th ignorant masses, and the squirrel represents sexism (also racism and homophobia and all the rest).  I know, I’m brilliant.  Much like how Terrence doesn’t believe that the squirrel exists just because it’s not in his field of vision, so many people seem to be of the mindset that if they are not experiencing discrimination, then it must not be happening.  This is pretty common with the female celebrities; Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (AKA Penny from the totally not sexist and wonderful show The Big Bang Theory) was recently quoted saying, “[Feminism is] not really something I think about.  Things are different now, and I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around … I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that’s because I’ve never really faced inequality.”  Well, that’s really great for you, Kaley, a pretty white woman living a Hollywood lifestyle.  Even if you feel like you’ve never faced inequality (although, I guarantee you have, you’ve just been socialized to understand it as “normal”, so you didn’t recognize it), how can you hear about all the injustice around you and say that feminism isn’t necessary?

In the interest of not bombarding everyone with a wall of text, Feminist Mythbusting will return next week with more myths to bust.  So, if your favourite myth hasn’t been busted yet, stay tuned!

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