Unfortunately, I just viewed this page about Feminism on Buzzfeed and cannot get the images out of my mind.
Please read this essay in a calm, professional voice (for those out there who may think I am "bitching" about feminism) as that is the way I intend it to be read.
Of course, as a feminist, it boggles my mind how people can be so uneducated when it comes to understanding women's rights. It seems so natural that everyone would want equality. I have purposely surrounded myself with social media that supports feminism and equality; however, in the real world, there are many people out there thinking that feminism is "the devil." Therefore, this post is to educate you on feminism:
First, please read this definition. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/women's%2520movement Focus on the word EQUALITY.... not supremacy which is what many of these people are mistakening feminism for. Women are currently socially and politically unequal due to our country's patriarchal values. Therefore, feminists are trying to gain equality though political and social justice movements.
The purpose of this piece is to explain to anti-feminists why feminists are passionate about making sure everyone is educated with facts on this subject. Backlash is not a new thing, but hopefully by reading up on the subject, the complicated world of feminism can be simplified for those who it may seem confusing for.
Secondly, you must understand that there are many different "types" of feminism. You see, there is lesbian feminism, chicano feminism, radical feminism, separatist feminism, black feminism, the list goes on (http://sparkcharts.sparknotes.com/womens/womens/section4.php) Therefore, please be understood that you may be referring to a certain type of feminism (most likely radical) which may have a completely different lens and motivation than a broader range of "feminism." OR the media and misogynists have skewed the definition of these types of feminisms which make them seem bad or scary in order to ward off the fight for equal power. (IE: patriarchal society values male power... would not want females to gain power... see?)
It makes me so sad to see these young women taking for granted all that feminism has earned for them. Yes, they can vote- Hooray! Question: Who in the world do you think earned them that right? Answer: Feminists. Voting wasn't always so, friends. For example, in 1870, black men were (finally) allowed to vote. 50, yes, fifty, years later in 1920, women secured the same right to vote. Ladies in the US haven't even been able to vote for 100 years. How can people forget that? The worst thing that one can do is to forget the past and take it all for granted. We are doomed to repeat it if we have forgotten. All these "rights" that women have nowadays weren't just magically given to us like they were granted to white men by default. Women had to rally, fight, and picket their way through a patriarchal world that systematically disadvantages both men and women.
Look at where we are over one hundred years later, still earning 70-80 cents per a (white) man's dollar. When you say, "I get equal pay so I don't need feminism," you are being extremely egocentric. That is fantastically wonderful that you have procured a job that pays you equally. What about the other 99% of women who may not have that benefit, especially ones who have the added weight of our country's racism on their plate? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/09/30/a-closer-look-at-the-pay-gap-in-charts/
Please note that the gap is within the same occupations, not just because women have "chosen" to take lower paying jobs. Think about the role of women and their paid and unpaid work. Women's work has historically been isolated into the private sphere which means unpaid work. Their skills have developed around domestic work. Isn't it funny how domestic work is one of the lowest paid jobs? This is due to historical disadvantages. Today, our society does not encourage women to participate in male-dominated careers like engineering or science, but rather capitalizes on women continuing to take lower-paying "gendered" jobs. Feminism works to encourage girls to feel comfortable when choosing their career path whatever it may be, engineering or the culinary arts. This also means encouraging women who want to be stay-at-home moms, but also identifying that the role of mother is an unpaid necessity in our culture. Feminism works towards valuing women's experiences no matter what they may be.
I am an unmarried woman and own a house. I am "allowed to have that right" because of a bunch of "married women's property rights laws" that happened in the late 1800's that eventually developed into women being able to own property. Did white men ever have to go through these laws to be able to own property, no. They were simply given this ability to do so. Please don't be ignorant and say, "I am super equal to everyone because I have these same rights now, so I don't need feminism anymore" because that is narrow-minded and negates all of the historical hardships that has brought you these freedoms. You may be privileged enough (please research the definition of privilege if you do not understand it) to have those rights, but others may not. White, educated, American women may think they don't need feminism because they have a certain amount of privilege granted to them in our racist-based "modern" society, but do not let that fool you, ladies. In case you would like a refresher course on women's rights earned by feminism and women's liberation movements, please review the about.com and wikipedia (don't judge, they are extremely concise and quick for the purpose of this blog) pages.
Note how in some places women have just earned the right to vote in The 2000s!!!
I am quite unsure how some of the comments from the "anti-feminist" page are equating feminism with being a victim.... a victim (or survivor rather) of patriarchal powers maybe? Yes, and men are targets as well. The patriarchy disadvantages both sexes. Men must be the all-mighty singular masculine breadwinners forever and ever- this is the thought process behind patriarchy. Households who have dual-income earners might be thought of as feminists. Women who choose to follow a career or education are breaking the chain of patriarchal reign.
I have a boyfriend, male friends and coworkers, brothers, and a dad. I know lots of other feminists who do as well. I am unsure what kind of anti-feminist propaganda these people are reading that say feminists hate men. Feminists hate the sexist-values of the patriarchy, not men. Get it right.
Society objectifies us all whether you (choose to) feel the objectification or not. Sometimes it really is about education. You can be blissfully happy watching media until you take a theory course on communications and advertising and understand that men, women, trans-individuals, homosexuals, heterosexuals, Black, White, Native, etc are objectified and exploited for monetary purposes.... the media use our "identities" to sell us objects, desires. This is essentially the way our modern, capitalist society works. Feminists don't want others, including men, to be objectified and reduced to mere objects because the media portrays us as less than human. Period.
Finally, if you must separate yourself from feminist values yet still spout off about equality, you may want to identify as "humanitiarian" (not humanist) rather than "anti-feminist" in order to save yourself social media backlash. (Although, many argue that humanitarianism or equalism cannot be achieved until the direct misogyny of our society is addressed through feminism. One of my favorite articles: http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/05/why-not-say-everyday-humanism-instead-of-everyday-feminism/)
Moral of the story: educate yourself. I leave you with one last nugget of advice: