Do you hate feminists? Are you sure?

Do you hate feminists? Are you sure?

“Here stop trying to be a feminist okay!”, “ugh! another typical feminist!”, “I totally support equality, but I am no feminist”, “I don’t mean to sound like a feminist but..”

Comments like these are becoming more and more common by the day and the term “feminism” or the “feminists” seem to be referred to with a lot of hatred and toxicity, don’t you agree? What do you think is the reason for this?

Myths about Feminism

Just like the most common root cause behind many of the social issues faced by the world today, the main reason behind the hatred and toxicity received by this movement is actually different perceptions and stereotypes these so-called “non-feminists” have on the terms “feminism” and “feminists”. Now this can be a result of their lack of understanding or awareness of the concept or more commonly it can be led by another group who demonstrate toxic behavior and attitude in the name of feminism – which is unfortunate. Feminism isn’t a concept that only benefits women, which then would have made all feminists sexists – which isn’t the case. Feminists are not some angry, unreasonable mob of radicals who absolutely reject the concepts such as femininity or masculinity, heterosexual relationships or marriages, motherhood or stay-home wives. 

Feminism is not about hating men; it is not about saying that women are better than men in whichever the way. These are some of the sad misconceptions specially led by certain media personnel and celebrities in the country and in the world, who identify themselves as “so-called-feminists” which then really negates the important work done by the “actual feminists” towards this cause. Therefore, it is vital that we all just pause for a second, and understand what feminism is actually about.

What is Feminism?

We discussed what feminism is not; let’s now look at the more important question – what then is it actually about? Feminism is essentially about providing equal opportunities and equal rights for all human beings; it is about having a choice regardless of one’s gender; it is about respect, it is about the freedom to express the most authentic version of self without having the fear of judgement. It’s about a better world, where everyone feels safe to be free on their own skin – a world where anybody can be whoever they choose to be. 

So, pause a little here, take a deep breath and ask yourself, are you someone who doesn’t really want that? Is that against your system of values or your belief on the right thing to do?

So, if it is about everybody, the next question you might ask would then be, why do people call themselves feminists instead of humanists or even equalists? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – a Nigerian writer and a foremost feminist, in one of her interviews gives a great answer to this common question. Although feminism is about justice for everybody, “you have to name a problem”. Over the centuries, for a multitude of historical, social, political, economic and cultural reasons it is the ‘women’ who are excluded; it is the ‘women’ who haven’t had the same choice or opportunity; it is the ‘women’ who to date have to experience double burden. This is the problem and that is why “you need to call it what it is”. It is as same as calling the #BlackLivesMatter movement as it is; not in any way to suggest that ‘other’ lives don’t matter, but just to name and address the problem at hand and to give it the due intensity it deserves. 

Why is feminism important?

Over decades, gender roles and stereotypes have posed serious challenges on how women and men get to operate in the personal, social and career trajectories of their lives. These gender stereotypes, unconscious biases and cultural norms have outlined what a man and a woman can and can not be, and what is accepted and expected of them. While most of these exert pressure on women and their way of life, some stereotypes associated with toxic masculinity such as “men don’t cry” are of course known to have had serious negative impacts on mental and social wellbeing of men as well as women around them. From young ages, almost all children are conditioned by their parents, their families and their society on these norms and eventually they are “accepted” by these children – both male and female which then get passed on to their daughters and sons. These conditionings are heavily associated with strong emotions to the child such as shame, value and a false sense of respect that they lose themselves in the way. Simple conditioning such as “boys like blue and girls like pink” are the initial steps of putting children into these boxes, of what is accepted and what is not – which they later fear to go against even if it means being free in their own skin. 

Even to date, it is ‘accepted’ that a mother is the primary caregiver of a family, and women are ‘expected’ to get married at a certain age, bear children at a certain age, carry out household chores, be responsible for their children’s bad behavior, give priority to home and family over career, dress in a certain way, behave in a certain way and the list just goes on. This also means on the other hand, that men are ‘expected’ to be tough, to earn more, pay bills and support the family, to figure it out on their own, not to show emotions, to pursue only certain kinds of passions and carriers that are ‘accepted’ for men, to establish their position in the house-hold as the head, and to ensure that the power distribution within the family is understood by everyone. This toxic sense of importance boosted by masculine ego in men, accepted by most women then results in an overall toxic, unhealthy family front where the woman bears the double burden and settles at it – which is unfortunate. To date, there is a huge gender pay gap in companies across the world because equally qualified and equally performing women are ‘perceived’ to be comparatively incompetent, indecisive, too-soft and lack leadership skills for certain positions when compared to men. The question feminists ask is, how is that fair?

This article doesn’t go on to say that all women should be career focused and they should give-up their duties and responsibilities of childcare and homecare. It goes on to say that they should have a say in deciding what they want, and this should not make them miserable as an individual. If a woman wants to be a stay-home mom that’s perfectly fine, if another woman wants to put on a business suit and sit on a board meeting that should also be perfectly fine. Similarly, if a man wants to be a CEO that should be as okay as allowing a little boy to play with a doll because that’s what he really wants to do.

So really, it is not about a bunch of angry women who burn bras, hate lipstick or high-heels, don’t shave and who want a world without men. Instead, it’s about a group of people who are working hard to level the playing field, towards making the world a better place for everybody. The actual question is, do you think you are not one of them?

Taniya Lewwanduwage 

The views expressed on this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Hashtag Generation.

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