Do you hate feminists because you believe in gender equality? CONGRATULATION! You are a feminist!
What exactly is your definition of feminism? When people hear the word feminist, they often become affiliated with aggressive man-hating people wearing revealing clothes that scream either my body, my choice or men are trash.
I’ll start with my own definition of feminism. Feminism is more than just women’s rights. It is a fight! A fight for equality to happen. A fight for racism, classism, ableism, ageism, patriarchy, homophobia, and etc. Regardless of race, gender, class, religion, or etc, everyone can be a feminist. Unfortunately, the term became affiliated with man-hating. Part of the problem also lies in the word itself. People emphasis on the word fem, which most people misunderstood as preferable treatment of women over men. Maybe if we change feminism to peoplelism? That would’ve been so much better? No, because the fact that women have been excluded for decades would be ignored. It is like denying that the whole system including gender targets women.
NOTE: Feminism doesn’t mean you have to hate men, walk naked down the streets, or even have only women rule society. It is also about men, everybody, anybody, equality! Besides, we can’t beat gender inequality without the support of men. We need everyone in this with us, we all should be feminists.
- Women earn money less than men. Based on a report by the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation, women worldwide only earn 77 percent of the amount that men do. For every dollar a white man makes, a white woman makes around 80 cents and a black woman just 63 cents. Besides, the figure has only improved by 3 percent in the past two decades.
- There are significantly more men in positions of power and influence than women. According to the UN Women, just 22 percents of the world’s politicians are women and only 4 percent of CEOs in the Fortune 500 companies are women. Meanwhile, 0 percent are black women.
- Women suffer all means of violence everyday. The violence includes all forms of abuse at the hands of men. The survey in the UN Women report revealed that 70 percent of women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime.
Your body, your choice
Have you ever leave home for a trip then have your parents warn you about being around men? What about them telling you to dress a certain way so that you do not distract men? Unfortunately, my parents did and I am certain yours did too. It is always women that have to act in certain ways to not distract men. Why is it our responsibility? Why can’t men behave too? Why won’t parents educate their sons instead of their daughters?
The notion of your body, your choice doesn’t mean you are pressure to wear revealing clothes but it is an idea of respecting people. You wear whatever you feel comfortable with. It is your right to do so. We do not force a Muslim woman to take off their hijab or a religious person to wear a crop top. We merely want people to respect others’ boundaries. We feminists just hope and dream of walking down any streets alone and still feel secure. A community where anyone can feel secure walking home alone without being attacked. Even to wear clothes without being judged. For decades, women have been pressured to follow rules: wore the appropriate clothes, wore bright clothing, walked on lit streets, but why do they still get attacked? Was it because their bodies not being covered enough? No, women do not get attacked because of the clothes they wear. Women get attacked because of their attackers.
Smash the patriarchy
Patriarchy describes the structure in which men have power over women. The term power here is related to privilege: a system where male-dominated the power structure in the society over women.
The problem lies when masculinity is seen as more respectable and holds more privileges than women. Especially anyone who is seen as effeminate. Patriarchy has permeated nearly every aspect of our lives and you might not realize it. You may never give a thought to why you have to prepare for supper while your male relatives play around or even when strangers catcall you in public. I am pretty sure that these kinds of situations happened to you once in your lifetime, especially if you’re in an Asian household.
Feminists never want you to feel victimized! We simply do not want you to continue living under the undue influence of the patriarchal system forever. We are here to dismantle the system. The system men set up. The equality version they set. All their supremacy just relies on exploitation and violence. Nobody wants to be a part of that. It is time you all step up and speak up for yourself, defend yourself!
Men can be victims of the system too. Although patriarchy is set up to benefit men, it can also hurt men in many ways as they are under constant scrutiny for not being masculine enough.
Toxic masculinity is a certain masculine trait where men asserted dominance over others and refused to act or behave anything related to femininity. They are also harmful to women and men both physically and mentally.
What causes toxic masculinity? When men feel the need to fulfill the need for ideal men.
Wait. How exactly is toxic masculinity hurting men themselves? Well, toxic masculinity pressures men to behave in a certain way. Examples could be pressuring men to avoid wearing a certain color (purple) because they can be subjected as gay or effeminate, suppress their emotion, always be emotionally unavailable, assigned be the head of the family, get gaslighted when they are sexually abused (men can get sexually harassed too), or basically, anything that does not show weakness and is above women especially in asserting dominance. They either defend their masculinity when threatened by using violence or exerting power and control.
Combatting toxic masculinity:
- Acknowledge that the patriarchy exists
- Call out misogyny and toxic behavior in others
- Educate yourself on the systems of oppression
- Commit to dismantling the patriarchy
NOT ALL MEN
Not all men, a famous controversial phrase we hear all the time. However, it may not be all men but it is all women. Generally, no one actually thinks of all men but It’s just enough men to make us afraid.
Recently there have been trends on TikTok, a popular social media platform today, where women speak up about themselves being sexually harassed. Comments got heated up as people began feeling sorry for the victims then proceed to blame all men or question why men with a face-with-rolling-eyes emoji expressing their disappointment. People have been arguing whether the word all is appropriate since not all men should be blamed for the actions of those who harm women.
However, the argument failed to acknowledge that it is enough men to make all women afraid. Women even have to defend themselves from men and not just any men, but all men. You clearly do not walk down streets full of men and pick which one to trust because you are taught to be aware of all men. One of the videos based on a TikTok from YouTuber Kristina Maione clearly explained the famous phrase as to why it is part of the problem.
In her video, Kristina mentioned that people tend to generalise things. She compared the phrase ‘not all men’ to warn people to be careful around ticks, explaining that not all ticks carry Lyme disease, but humans still generalise the issue.
She explained: “When we speak up about women’s oppression and women’s abuse we obviously know it’s not all men. But when one in three women in their lifetime are either raped or physically abused by a man, it is enough men… to make all women afraid.”
However, there are still some people who think that the phrase “not all men” should be used since it makes men feel uncomfortable, but just a friendly reminder that men will never be oppressed. They have the privilege. They are the creators of the oppression.
Now that we’ve come to the end! Do you still think of man-hating people with anger issues when thinking of feminists? Well, we cannot force you to think like us, but it does not hurt to understand what feminists want. It can and will happen if we’re on the same boat together. We need your help. We need you to become part of us. From making a change to creating a better environment!
How do we start to create change? A very broad question to ask, but if we start creating gender equality at home then that’s already a small change. Small changes do give back big results.
Lastly, it is for you to understand that feminism is about everyone regardless of their gender, race, etc. because feminism does not revolve around done gender. However, we mainly see women centered in feminism because they are the main victims of society. They were oppressed for decades and are still even now. Through lack of education from doing house chores to serving husbands, sexual harassment to job insecurity. In fact, women are strong. They have the full capability just like any normal humans, but they will always lose out because of their sex.