Dear boy who tweeted that “all feminists are the worst people”:
You probably don’t know this, but when the women’s rights movement–feminism–was gaining attention, the idea of gender equality really was threatening and undesirable to a lot of people. People wanted to stop this movement because they didn’t want women to have equal rights. One of the most effective, carefully calculated strategies to dissuade people from supporting this movement was to try and make the idea of feminism and feminists inherently unpleasant.
People in the media publicized these stigmas into our culture, broad stereotypes that would make people loathe to consider themselves feminists. They did this because they were threatened by the prospect of women gaining equal power.
You’re probably familiar with many of these stereotypes, and you endorsed quite a few of them in the ensuing twitter fight that followed after someone objected to your original tweet.
People were trained to believe that all feminists are:
–manly women who don’t shave or wear bras
–women who are extremely forceful and militant
–women who hate men
–women who are unfairly prejudiced to men. (You supported this directly with that picture you favorited that said, “all feminists be like, ‘all men are the offender and all women are the victim,’” though you should know that’s a narrow and sexist statement; it implies that masculinity makes everyone an insensitive brute and all women are weak and powerless–this is in fact the exact thing feminism is fighting against!)
—all feminists are women, men cannot be feminists.
Also, people perpetuated the stigma that women who consider themselves feminists are nothing but whiny, nagging shrews who can’t stop shouting about their opinions, which should then be disregarded because those holding the opinions aren’t ladylike enough in their presentation. This was something you relied on to discount the opinions of the people who disagreed with you. When you said, “I’ve had enough of you feminists now,” that was directly implied, and it was offensive.
Now. I don’t doubt that on a small, individual basis, you could find some people who do fit the stereotype. Of course. There are always people who take things to the extreme–though there’s not always anything wrong with that–and there are always people who are less than perfect representatives of the things they believe in. For example, there are many wonderful, good Christians. There are also people who live a totally different lifestyle because of their faith–again, there’s not a thing wrong with that–but it would just be incorrect to assume that everyone who considers themselves Christian lives like the Amish. However, I too can think of a few people who have done awful things in the name of Christianity, but this doesn’t mean I assume all Christians are bad. Similarly, just because there are women who live different lifestyles because they are view certain aspects of our culture as oppressive, this doesn’t mean everyone who’s a feminist does. In fact, the vast VAST majority does not. And maybe there are a few women who have done violent things or are unfairly biased towards all men, but this shouldn’t mean everyone assumes all feminists exhibit all these behaviors.
Really. Really and truly, the dictionary definition of feminism is, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” And that’s all it means. Equality. Not that women are superior and men should have less rights. Equality. It means advocating for gender equality.
Do any research and you’ll also discover that feminism is not just the “sexist, narrow, and one-sided” thing you thought it was. It advocates in many way for equality of men, who also have valid and very concerns in our society. Men too face body image pressure. They’re taught there’s only one way to be masculine. They’re called derogatory terms and compared to women if they like things like dancing or baking or fashion. Men in childcare professions and stay at home fathers are treated with less respect than women who hold these same jobs. And that’s just scratching the surface, but feminism is trying to end gender stigmas for everyone.
A feminist is anyone who supports gender equality. To be a feminist, you needn’t support everyone who has ever considered themselves a feminist. You don’t have to defend everything that has ever been done in the name of feminism. You can disagree with certain aspects of the feminism movement. But it means gender equality. Really. Believe me. And yes, men can be feminists. In fact, they should be. Everyone should be a feminist.
If you understand what feminism really is–supporting equal rights for men and women–and you maintain you are you are not a feminist, not only are you saying you DO NOT support gender equality, you’re reaffirming all the sexist stigmas of feminism that were initiated to scare people away from it. By saying you support gender equality but not “feminism”, you are perpetuating every stereotype that has historically–and still is–used to try to separate feminism from its actual meaning to dissuade women and men from pursuing their best interests while enforcing gender oppression. That’s why your first–and following–tweets specifically irritated me.
You don’t have to feel terribly affected by gender inequality in your day to day life. You don’t need to be particularly outspoken about it. You only have to believe that there should be equality. You don’t have to subscribe to anything. You just have to understand the problem. In fact, if I asked you, “do you believe women should have the right to vote?” “do you believe women should make the same amount of money as men for the same amount of work?” “do you think women should the same basic rights and freedoms as men?” and you said “yes,” then you ARE a feminist! And that’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. Many well-known celebrities you probably look up to (both men and women!) are outspoken feminists.
I hate to go on and on. I bet you’re in many way a good person. I just wanted to correct some ignorance I’d seen going around.