Stop The Man Hating: Feminism Is For Everyone
Militancy against men is not a solution to gender inequality
The biggest threat to feminism today is not extreme opinions restricting rights to abortion or other fundamental rights of women, nor people oppressing feminists fighting for these causes. These are widely seen by many as just that: fundamental rights.
The biggest threat to a broad feminism is the old – and the entirely false – idea that there is a battle between the genders, and one that needs to be fought aggressively.
Since the rise of social media in the past few years, what was once a very simple ideal – that women and men should be equal – has become clouded in confusion and misplaced passion. Feminism has moved from a noble and clear social movement into an endless theoretical academic pursuit, a competition between women, and a literary minefield.
Unfortunately, the modern perception of a ‘feminist’ has become one of a hysterical person sitting behind a keyboard, sharing articles with their e-friends, desperate to collect ‘likes’, use equality buzzwords, and decry anyone who seems to fall below whatever their personal idea of a ‘feminist’ is.
People are terrified to write or say anything lest they provoke a torrent of social media abuse. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow anyone their two cents, however misinformed or abusive.
One of The Tab’s co-editors recently summed this up in a blog on the Huffington Post, after being hounded by people who said they were in effect ‘better feminists’ than her.
There is no greater example of this than UCLU’s Women’s Officer Beth Sutton, who burst into a debate on Monday to accuse George Galloway of being a ‘rape apologist,’ before being forcibly removed.
One astute commenter observed the problems and said:
“Miss Sutton has allowed this event to take place in the interests of free speech… and then tried to use it as a platform to create publicity about feminist issues rather than the original UNSC debate.”
Miss Sutton then took to her preferred method of communication, Twitter, to vent her anger:
It’s classic rhetoric from the new generation of confused and aggressive ‘feminists’. The woman who manhandled her out was well within her right to do so. Equality doesn’t mean that all women are the same or hold the same views, in the same way that not all men are ‘the patriarchy’. A woman doesn’t have to help another woman out, just as a man doesn’t have to help another man out because they are the same gender.
On Ms. Sutton’s public Facebook profile, between the usual memes and photos of Bob Dylan, are photos of an angry Beth with captions like “DELICIOUS MALE TEARS” or “KILL ALL MEN”. Of course, these are not more than just badly worded tongue-in-cheek comments, but what cannot be understated is how this only solidifies the misconception that feminism – and women’s issues – are the realm of women, and men seem if not hated, at least unwanted. In an official position as women’s officer, these statements are clumsy and clutzy at best, alienating and slightly threatening at worst. If the terminology were reversed in gender, she would most certainly be answering to someone about hate crimes.
There are real problems at hand with the sexualisation of women in society, a rape culture that permeates all societal groups, equal pay, and just plain misogyny. I thoroughly believe that feminism has many solutions to all of these problems. The only problem: you need to stop shouting things that alienate fifty per cent of the population. Feminism is not about the superiority of women over men. It should not be an ideology used for revenge for millennia of oppression. To get feminism to work we need to put these wrongs aside, and most of all, not blame “men” as a single entity.
By using extremely inflammatory rhetoric towards both men and women within UCL, women like Beth Sutton oppress less radical, more inclusive feminism and through this hurts the feminist cause by alienating what certainly is a large majority of the student population.
Feminism is for everyone. I get angry every time I hear “I’m not a feminist but…” I get angry because I know it is because of these militant feminists. Most people would say that cornerstones like equal pay or more flexible parental leave are no brainers – but are hesitant to rally under the feminist cause. The biggest threat towards feminism is the misconception that you hate men if you are one. A healthy and a much more inclusive feminism would create a better and happier UCL and provide much needed space for such a discussion.