There are many misconceptions out there about feminism. People apply things to feminism that aren’t necessary too feminism. While some feminists may add those particular beliefs to their version of feminism, it is not necessarily something accepted by all feminists.
Remember: feminism is a widespread movement with millions of members. Saying that all feminists X is almost certainly wrong. Saying things like “all feminists hate men” would be like someone saying “all atheists hate god” or “all Christians hate gay people.” Do you see how this can be a problem?
Yes, some feminists hate men, but most don’t. I certainly don’t, otherwise why would I plan on marrying one? And how would you account for all the male feminists? Even if some male feminists hated themselves, I highly doubt that would be commonly held among all male feminists. To say it is is a cop-out. It’s a way to dismiss them so that you don’t have to deal with their arguments.
So rather than make baseless claims, or applying a version of feminism to me that I don’t agree with, how about I let you know what my feminism actually looks like. The foundation of my feminism is the simple idea that men and women are equal. No sex is superior to the other. This is the one thing that most feminists share. But, as everybody else does, I’ve added other beliefs to my feminism. The first thing I’d add is that there are more than two sexes. Intersex people are also the equals of men and women, or, more aptly, males and females. Then I’d add the gendered dimension, since man and woman are gender terms, not sex terms, the gender aspect of the feminist claim is explicit. So I’d add that there are more that two genders and they are all equals. This makes me a trans* inclusive feminist. Sadly, not all feminists are inclusive to trans* people, but I believe that they are a very important part of the movement.
The next thing that I would add to my feminism is the ethnic aspect. Feminists worked along side African-Americans back when neither were considered legal persons. But despite this, feminism was very much a white, middle class movement. It was mostly made up of white, middle class women and it mostly dealt with their problems. This is an issue that still exists. As does racial discrimination and disparity. But we’re all people. We all deserve equal rights. As such, feminism shouldn’t be devoted solely to solving the problems of white women. It should be devoted to solving the problems of all women, be they white, black, Asian, Middle Eastern, trans*, intersex, rich, poor, etc.
I already mentioned the focus on middle class women. Like I said, feminism is for all women. Feminism, in my mind, should spend more time focusing on problems faced by poor women. They are the ones mostly likely to be single mothers, to struggle with child care payments, to have to work so often that they barely get to see their children. To watch there children get substandard educations and drop out of school, to be uneducated themselves, to be victimized, etc. Solving those problems alone would drastically improve our societies. Because of that potential, I’d say that this should be a major focus of feminism.
I alluded to males within feminism earlier, but have also said that feminism is for women. So let’s talk about that. Men are an important part of the feminist movement. They are great allies. And they benefit from feminism in many ways. It’s much the same as straight allies in the LGBTQ movement. Those allies are important, because it shows that the LGBTQ movement isn’t anti-straight people. They also give the LGBTQ movement some strength that they would not otherwise have. Straight people have the power to convince other straight people that non-straight people deserve equal rights. They give the movement legitimacy for some. They also give it a certain political strength. The number of LGBTQ people is fairly small, but straight people help the numbers grow. This gives incentive for governments to actually support LGBTQ rights. While the movement isn’t for straight people, they are important allies, and they reap many benefits. For example, they’ve changed views on sex from something controlled by the church to a normal human behaviour. It forces governments to give marriage benefits to more people. They can no longer deny people as easily as they could before. And it have made society more accepting in general. In the same way, feminism isn’t for men, but it benefits them. Men add power and legitimacy to the movement and in return they get a more fair society. For example, if we stop looking at men as strong defenders and women as weak nurturers, then society can no longer justify drafting men and not women, or giving preference to mothers in custody cases. Personally, I’m glad that my country doesn’t have the draft, and I hope it’s abolished in other countries sooner rather than later, but more women in the military can only be a good thing. Women are often over looked for promotions, they are less likely to be allowed into combat situations, rape in the military is rampant, and they are overall treated worse than men. This doesn’t mean that every woman in the military will experience these things, but too many do. But more women in the military, especially in higher up positions, will normalize it. Men will no longer be able to get away with abusing their female coworkers, and they will no longer be able to excuse their own behaviour by saying “she can’t do the job.” And I have no problem with more men getting custody of their children. Custody should be given to whoever is most capable of raising the child, not who ever is seen as biologically more nurturing. But we can’t achieve these things with traditional views of gender. We need to change how we see men and women. We need to be equals.
The final point that I feel I need to make is this claim that feminism is a way to play the victim card. Pray tell me, at what point in this post did I play the victim card? This isn’t about being a victim, it’s about equality. I don’t know how I could make this any more clear. I don’t think that I’m a victim, but I do think that there are many problems with society that need to be addressed. However, there are a lot of people out there who have been victimized. They are, definitionally speaking, victims. Most of them choose not to focus solely on their victimhood and are able to fight to overcome their pain and fear. These people are very brave and should not be shamed. So what exactly do you find so wrong about being a victim? Why do you feel the need to shame these people? Why not just accept that some people are victims and we as a society should do our best to prevent the victimization of others?
This is what my feminism looks like. I am a trans* inclusive, non-man hating, intersectional feminist.