The stigma around a ‘Feminist’

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Respect the Rights of Women – Source: Julie Ricard on Unsplash

Why you should care?

Do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

There is a wide misconception that those who call themselves a ‘Feminist’ consider women to be superior to men, think that women deserve more rights than men, or even, are ‘men-hating’. However, feminism and misandry (dislike and prejudice against men) are not synonymous.

Feminism allows people to look at the world not as it is, but how it should be. Women and men are worthy of equal human rights: the feminist movement is not in place to disempower men, but instead to advocate equality of the sexes in all areas of society. The movement intends to place women on the same pedestal as men, so that it is a fair playing field, not to give women an unjust advantage. Perhaps the root of this fallacy is people thinking that women and men are in fact equal in society nowadays, and that giving women any more rights would put them above men, that it is ‘going too far’. But it is paramount that these people understand that, although it may not be obvious to you in your environment, the discrimination and oppression that women face, nationally and globally, remains prevalent today. 

The discussion of feminism triggers a defensive response in many people and the conversation is all too often dismissed to avoid conflict or discomfort. Rather than avoiding these important exchanges, people should choose to engage, and try to listen to the other person’s opinion. It can be very easy to overlook someone else’s discomfort or problems when you can’t see them. However it is incredibly important that the young men of this generation listen to the stories of their friends and sisters. Lots of young men and boys think that when we women talk about harassment, we are referring to the worst case scenarios, usually meaning either rape or abuse. But actually, it is the ‘little things’ that have a detrimental effect on women’s confidence on the street. These ‘radical feminists’ are in fact striving to benefit everyone – both women and men. 

Feminism benefits men as well. The equality of the sexes is in everyone’s best interest, as it would allow men to be freed from both toxic masculinity and the society that imposes set standards. Instead of being repeatedly told to ‘man up’, we should instead aim for a society where men are not frowned upon when opening up about their emotions. As Canadian author Justine Musk said:

The enemy of feminism isn’t men. It’s patriarchy, and patriarchy is not men. It is a system, and women can support the system of patriarchy just as men can support the feminist movement.

Let’s face it; women will not be able to initiate a turn around here by themselves. Men are needed to make a permanent difference. Feminism requires support from everyone. It is not a women’s protest against men, but instead an opportunity for all of society, women, men, older and younger generations, to come together and create change.
We should all be feminists.

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