There has been a lot of talk of “feminism” on the Internet recently. From Ray Rice beating his wife unconscious in an elevator and the horrifying reveal of the undercurrents of domestic violence in the NFL to Emma Watson speaking to the U.N. and advocating for the importance of gender equality. There has also been a lot of outcry (usually by men or ultra-conservatives) against any “feminist” agendas being touted in the aftermath of these occurrences.
I wish I could say that I know everything there is to know about feminism and could say with conviction that I was or wasn’t a feminist, but I can’t. It’s too complicated of an issue with too many parties and opinions out there muddying the water so that it becomes to confusing and quite frankly, daunting to identify one way or the other. If you say you’re a feminist but you don’t totally understand everything the movement entails then you are seen as uneducated and a detriment to the cause. If you’re a woman and say that you’re not a feminist or maybe you say you’re a “humanist,” then you’re seen as ignorant and haughty. That you think you’re better than the women who identify as feminists. So then, what’s the right answer?
I don’t think there is one. Not unless you have the time and energy to relentlessly study the current trends in feminism and it’s opposing movements. Most of us—men and women—are not like that. We’re struggling just to get through our day to day lives, and perhaps we are interested in the topic and wonder whether we are feminists or not, but we just don’t know if it’s worth the struggle to find out.
I do know some things though:
- Violence towards women is never appropriate. Domestic violence shouldn’t be tolerated in our society. And we shouldn’t make excuses for those who abuse (physically or emotionally) their “loved” ones.
- It isn’t fair that an 18-year-old girl like Hannah Graham can’t make stupid decisions one night while in college and come home safe. It especially isn’t fair that people would rather say that it’s her fault—because she was drinking, because she was wearing a crop top, because she left alone—than address the real issue that someone did something to her. That she didn’t “ask” for it to happen no matter what she was wearing or doing that night. I’d like to know the statistics of men who go out on the town and get drunk while in college and are kidnapped and/or murdered versus women who do the same.
- An intelligent woman like Emma Watson that has been chosen as an ambassador for the U.N. should be able to stand up and make a speech about the need for gender equality without a vicious backlash from the Internet community. In fact, any woman should be able to speak her mind about gender issues in a public forum without being attacked. Isn’t that what free speech is? Don’t we get to have our own opinions? I don’t think she was shoving her agenda down anyone’s throat. She was using her elevated platform to address an issue that she found relevant and in need of being discussed.
- Fourteen-year-old girls (handicapped or not) should not be used as “rape bait” by school administration.
- People like Sam Pepper should not be able to harass women on the street, film it, and then call it “entertainment.” It’s harassment, plain and simple.
I can’t say whether I’m a Feminist or not. I like to think that I am, but I feel ignorant to identify as something that I don’t fully understand. What I do know is that I think women should be treated like human beings with basic human rights which I think include not being harassed, assaulted, sexually exploited, or judged for making immature and stupid decisions from time to time. I think our society generally expects those kinds of rights for men, so why not women? Isn’t that gender equality?