I’m a feminist and I’m over people saying that feminism is man-hating
Doesn’t The Odyssey realise it’s 2016
Recently, I read an article in The Odyssey called ‘I’m a Female and I’m So Over Feminists’, which was all about- you guessed it- how the author, a white woman living in a first-world country- decided that because she wasn’t oppressed, feminism as a movement was redundant. In her words, “… this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than anywhere else in the world”. I’ve never heard something more indicative of white privilege in my entire life.
As a woman of colour who grew up in a developing country, let me tell you that this is absolutely not the case everywhere else. In many countries, female genital mutilation, child marriage, stopping women from pursuing a higher education, and even female infanticide is very much a thing. But please, by all means, reduce feminism to the physical differences between men and women and the ubiquitous whine of “what’s wrong with men being gentlemen?”
The article starts with the author talking about how her boyfriend’s class got into a heated argument over female sports, and “how male TV stations air less female competitions than that of males” with the female students outnumbering the men. This, apparently, led the men to feel somewhat insecure and persecuted because of their opinions. The author dismissed the female students’ arguments that society is unfair to women regarding this issue as “a load of bull”. She added “On a realistic level, how many women are going to turn on Sports Center in the middle of the day?… It’s a business, not a boycott against female athletics”.
First of all, to assume that women are not as interested in sports as men are is to teeter precariously close to perpetuating the damaging stereotype that women are fragile and feminine, and not interested in sporty, outdoorsy activities; stereotypes that feminists work so hard to dispel. Secondly, women not being given enough recognition in the athletic field is a real problem. One only has to watch the video of the female sports reporters Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro having mean tweets read to them to know sexism in this male-dominated field is extremely real; for the author to dismiss this problem as ‘a load of bull’ is, quite frankly, ignorant beyond belief. TV stations don’t not air these matches because of a lack of demand. They don’t air these matches because of the widespread belief that women’s sports don’t really matter anyway.
She then moves on to ‘chivalry’, complaining that if a man so much as opens a door for a woman, offers to fix a tire for them, or offers to pay for dinner, it’s blasphemy. Look, of course people should open doors for others, that’s common courtesy. But why should it be only men who need to offer? I don’t have a problem with a man offering to fix my tire because he wants to do me a solid. I have a problem with a man offering to fix my tire because I’m a ‘weak woman who can’t do it myself’. Along the same lines, I have a problem with a man offering to pay on a date because I’m a woman. The underlying assumption that women are weak and that men naturally fall into the role of protector is toxic to both men and women, and needs to be destroyed. Offer to do something nice out of the goodness of your heart, not because of your damn gender. If men have a problem with not being able to open doors or fix tires for women, you really have to wonder just how secure in their masculinity they are.
Then comes the most problematic part of the whole essay: when the author, in her infinite wisdom, takes it upon herself to teach us biology. “There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain”.
Wow. Just wow. Let’s start with the most obvious criticism: FEMINISM ISN’T ABOUT PHYSICAL EQUALITY. It’s about equal social, political and economic rights. I mean, for Christ’s sake, by this point in history we should know that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s no neat little binary of ‘male’ and ‘female’ bodies. There are skinny men physically weaker than women out there, ya know. I don’t know any of my guy friends who’d want to go up against Rhonda Rousey. Also, women do not ‘have more efficient brains’ than men. Being intelligent has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with your gender- yet another argument in favor of feminism. Finally, this paragraph completely ignores the existence of non-binary people who do not identify as either male or female. Feminism is about them too, guys. It’s an umbrella term that encompasses equal rights for EVERYONE (yes, even men! Shocker!).
Next, she decides to tackle the glass ceiling. Big surprise; she thinks it’s not a big deal: “Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it’s being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let’s stop blaming men and society about how we continue to “struggle” and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark on today’s workforce. We’re doing a kick-ass job, let’s stop the complaining.” Again with the white feminism, author. Yes, women are doing their best, and even managing to succeed in climbing the corporate ladder, and that’s wonderful! But let’s not forget that it’s mostly white women who are finding the most success. Women of colour make much less money than white women, who in turn make less than men of colour, who make less than white men. Getting the picture? And that’s just in America; let’s not even go to some countries where most women aren’t even allowed to go to school. This is why intersectionality in feminism is so desperately needed, and for you to dismiss it because you, a white woman, and other white women like you are successful, is blatantly disrespectful to women of colour who still face obstacles in their workplace.
To conclude, dear author, if, as you say, you “consider myself to be a very strong and independent female”, then do I have news for you: YOU’RE A FEMINIST! Feminism isn’t, as you seem to believe, about women hating men and thinking they’re better than them; that’s misandry. Feminism is about women wanting justice, political and social equality, and basic respect as human beings. Because we’re equal, and that’s that. “Time to embrace it”.