Wednesday, 16 July 2014

An Open Letter To Women Against Feminism

Dear WomenAgainstFeminism,

I came across your Tumblr thread the other day and I'm not going to lie, my initial action was one of anger. Your belief that feminism exists to demonize men, while demanding special treatment, illicit's a particular kind of despair.

You know yourself the strong opposition to your campaign, but I'm not here to call you an idiot or belittle you the way every other feminist with a laptop has done. The progression of either of our views won't be helped by such an argument. Indeed, I don't want to have an argument at all. But I do want to point out some areas of contention.

First off, it seems that you have been given some hysterical account of what feminism is. In it's most simple form, feminism is the advancement of gender equality. The focus is on the female gender because historically and socially, we have been treated as the lesser sex. We have progressed (in the Western World) past campaigning for a woman's right to vote or own property on her own, but that does not mean things are equal.

It's not just about the pay-gap, although that it one of the most blatant manifestations of sexism. Contrary to your argument, the gender pay gap doesn't exist simply because men are better at their jobs or don't take as much time off. International research on the area refutes this point. Discrepancies are more alike to the inherent perception of a woman's ability to hold a role outside the traditional typecast than they are because women are more focused on children than careers.

This is apparent when you examine the amount of women in upper-power positions in the corporate world; simply put, there are more barriers - economic, cultural and social - for a women to overcome in order to get to the top. Feminists are not outraged because they're competing against men, we're outraged because the playing field is uneven, specifically because of our gender.

But as I said, this is not just about wages. Your point that you don't need feminism because you're not personally discriminated against or oppressed may be true, but you seem to be ignoring the factors that have led to this state. If all the men in your life respect you and treat you as your equal, that is fantastic - but it's also feminism. Things weren't always this way. At some point, someone fought for you to have the right to drive a car, get an education, have sex outside marriage and generally, all the rights that you have and deserve. They didn't happen by magic. Men weren't always taught to treat women with respect and equate an equal status to them.

In the context of history, it's a rather recent phenomenon that women aren't restricted to the role of wife, homemaker and mother. There is nothing wrong with this role, it is one I hope to hold myself one day, with pride. But feminism created the choice for women to hold other roles too. Without feminism, you would be shackled to that expectation by society and your peers with no alternative.

Sticking with this reason for you not needing feminism, while it's great that you have the freedom of choice, lots of women don't. It takes a rather selfish and self-centered perspective to condemn those who are forcefully oppressed to their lot in life based on their geography or cultural background. If we all took the attitude that "it doesn't affect me so it's not my problem", the world we live in would be in a more dire state than it already is.

You also argue that feminism trivializes rape by creating "rape culture" when the reality is the opposite. I have never once heard a feminist liken a catcall to rape as you assert, so if this is true, please point me in the direction of the people who are making these claims. What feminists do believe is that the social normalization of rape and sexual violence in movies, music, and everyday jokes, assists in trivializing rape. Which is not okay. It makes a horrendous act seem like a regular occurrence; something to be expected and something which can be used as a punch-line in a joke.

It's not socially acceptable to use degrading terminology starting with the letter "N" to describe coloured people, but somehow it is socially acceptable to say "My hair got raped by the wind." This may seem like minor, typical, over PC bullsh*t, but prejudices grow from the shadows. They originate in the smallest comparisons and minor thought-process', before growing legs into a rooted belief. So rather than trying to "trivialize" rape, feminists are fighting against rape culture to ensure this doesn't happen.

Lastly, your view that feminists are angry, hairy, monsters of opinion, is as outdated as the notion that women are inferior to men. I find it offensive that thanks to this perception, all feminists are lumped into a category of hysterical females who hate men and get outraged by anything decent a guy does for them, automatically labeling it as sexist.

I don't hate men. I don't get offended easily. I have a sense of humour. I wear high-heels. I'm not a champion of reverse sexism. If I don't get a promotion in work, I don't use my gender as the reason why.

But I am a feminist. I believe in equality, irrespective of gender. In fact, irrespective of any other criteria that does not have anything to do with a person's ability. I, luckily, don't live in a society where my basic human rights are hampered because I was born with a vagina. But that does not mean I live in a world where the sexes are treated evenly by the law and by my peers. Just because a country has laws against rape doesn't mean the process is workable. Just because I can drive a car without being stoned doesn't there's nothing to fight for.

And just because you label yourself as a woman against feminism, doesn't mean you don't benefit from the fruits of feminism. Indeed, it is due to this movement that you have the right to voice this opinion, as flawed as it is.

Mucho Love,

Vicky xoxo

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