It’s not just men that don’t understand feminism, it’s women as well. As an ideology, feminism should be open to interpretation and misunderstanding. An intangible construct, feminism is a philosophy that welcomes debate. But what people have misunderstood about feminism for decades, is that it’s an anti-male declaration. That’s what people get wrong. It’s not an anti-male philosophy, it’s a pro-women one.
I won’t speak for all feminists, but I will speak about what feminism means for me.
Feminism, at its core, is a belief that women should determine the life they want to live with no interference from anyone else. Once another person, a male in particular, tries to impede or obstruct a women’s right to make choices about the life she sees fit, then she should be empowered and supported to remain on her determined life course.
Of course, there are subtopics in feminism, such as body image, self-esteem, and the most significant, access to appropriate health care, but the umbrella for my form of feminism is the unwavering belief that women should decide for themselves what life they want to live. So, if they choose to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, then so be it. It’s only my job to empower her in that choice if she wants my empowerment.
And if a woman wants to run a Fortune 500, or be President, that’s cool too.
I think that the feminist impression is skewed because of the media and patriarchy (which of course controls the media…) The caricature of the stereotypical feminist is a women who does not shave, freebleeds, and is unattractive. Thus, she takes her frustrations out on society for her physical shortcomings. Pretty women reject feminism because they’re pretty, while the ugly trolls embrace it because they have nothing else to cling to.
For awhile, I thought this fictional belief in feminism was dead. With the growing rise in feminists and our intelligent declaration in the public sphere, I thought the world was finally beginning to understand that women deserve certain considerations in the socio-political arena. But no. On Gawker (go figure), I read an infuriating exchange, where a man proudly proclaimed that feminism is a point of solace for ugly female trolls.
The dialogue was a response to an article about Lena Dunham on SNL. I’ll admit, I don’t follow Lena Dunham, and I didn’t watch her segments, and I’ve never seen Girls, but that has little to do with her beliefs in feminism or her subjective lack of attractiveness. Instead, she angers me because I believe she fuels gentrification and first-world bratty entitlement. But that’s a different story.
But to stay on point, the notion that feminism is a platform for the subjectively unattractive to voice their concerns is ludicrous. When domestic violence is alive, well, and underreported … when women are victims of sexual assault and rape, then put on trial to defend themselves against predators … when women and girls are trafficked into sexual slavery … when government tries to control our health choices, our anger is not a product of our “unattractive” physical attributes.
In 2014, we’re a more educated society, with more access and resources for information sharing and productive ideation. To constantly regurgitate flawed prejudicial ideas that hold no semblance of intellect or critical thought have no place in the globalized society that we all, men and women alike, are building.
Feminism is not a support group for us supposedly troll-looking females. It’s an execution in leveling the playing field for victims of rape culture and patriarchy. For getting justice for female victims who have been oppressed, subjugated, and marginalized into the throes of an uneven society. Feminism is not an attack on men, it’s a way to ensure the safety of women.
Man up, bro.