“How could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?”
(*A patriarchal social system can be defined as a system where men are in authority over women in all aspects of society.)
Feminism is highly misunderstood by way too many people. Let’s explain it once and for all – a feminist, is a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. So yes, a man can be a feminist. A feminist is anyone who recognize the equality and full humanity of men and women, to be very clear that means as much ‘pro-men’ as it means ‘pro-women’, it’s a two sided-coin. So if you’re for equality, you are in fact a feminist. Simple. But somehow it’s still not simple.
The word feminism has unfortunately got a very negative tone in our society. Why is that? I think the lack of knowledge is a big reason. Many men and women just don’t have enough knowledge about what feminism really is. Online you can see people post pictures of themselves holding a handwritten note, usually saying something like this:
Ugh, were do I even start… first of all the picture to the left: nothing about feminism says that you can’t be a stay at home mum if that’s your choice. If she honestly thinks that her choice of being a stay at home mum should stop the work for equality for the rest of the world then I would say she’s pretty selfish. And to be frank, if she was 100% fine with her and her husbands choice of their lifestyle she wouldn’t feel a need to defend it. And definitely not feel the need to go against equality.
The picture to the right, ugh… “demonize men”, wait a minute, feminism means equality… meaning equal rights for men and women. And if anyone makes men demonized, it’s men themselves. Why would feminism mean “playing” a victim? Women are victims! If you on the other hand deny that, that’s far worse then acknowledging that fact and working for equal rights for men and women. And the whole “respecting my husband as the man in our marriage doesn’t make me less of a women…”, of course love and respect your husband, as he should love and respect you. Hopefully your marriage is that great – good for you! But what about all the other women out there who are being controlled, being forced to put all their dreams aside because their husband won’t take responsibility as a father or because of the poor salary- and socialsystem that isn’t equal. A big problem is that we haven’t embraced true sisterhood, and it’s so clear in the posts by these women. They don’t see the extent of the abuse of our sisters. The families selling their daughters into sexual slavery in Asia, due to poverty. The young street girls being forced to satisfy white men in Thailand, or the girls married off to men old enough to be their grandfathers. We don’t see the women who are under their father or brother’s control and have absolutely no power over their lives. We are blind to the truth because we live selfish, privileged lives of excess in the West. Our sisters and brothers need us. Domestic violence is growing. While these are extreme cases of inequality, don’t think your own life situation is equal and that, as a woman, you are getting a fair deal.
You still don’t think we should work for those women because you and your husband already respect yourselves in your marriage? I understand that the patriarchal has brainwashed us all and it’s effecting us more or less all the time in different situations, but that can not be an excuse not to get those googles on and start seeing your own part in the big picture.
Of course feminism end up fighting mostly for women’s rights. Simply because women are not yet considered as equals to men in today’s society. But there are definitely fights within feminism that goes for men as well, of course, like I said it’s a two sided-coin. But people don’t seem be aware of this, they think feminism is only for women. That feminism is some sort of revolution where women wants to rule the world. This is far from reality. In fact, feminism involves making the world a place with no gender roles, where no gender poses a threat to the other. Where men and women co-exist as equals. Where it is okay for a women to open the door for a man, just as it is for a man to open the door for a women. That’s a very small example, but you get the point. Where it’s okay for a women to give her opinion without automatically being a bitch, but rather an equal who speaks up. Where women and men compliment each other’s work and work together to build a better society. Everyone one knows that men and women have differences, thats NOT what feminism is about, but to see that even with our differences we have the same worth. It’s about human rights where more then half of the worlds population don’t have the same rights as the rest. How can anyone be against equal human rights?
According to one survey, only 20 percent of women in the US consider themselves feminists. Why? Because women are seeing the feminist movement as angry and hateful toward men. In another New York Times survey, results showed that only 18 percent of Americans consider themselves feminists, however, 85 percent claimed they believe in ‘equality for women’. Considering that believing in equality for women makes you a feminist, this is really interesting, if not a little disturbing, especially in the light of increased violence against women. Men and women are against feminism because they don’t really understand what it is, they are uneducated in the area.
Studies believe that women who are against feminism have settled, they’ve accepted that we’re not equal to men – meaning they’ve given up but they would probably not admit to it. Women have been propping up men and male systems for centuries, in the shadows behind powerful men, having their talents unacknowledged while we are portrayed as less than men, and only good as sexual objects or mothers. Perhaps we’ve taken on some of this societal conditioning and this victimisation has become a well-trodden path in our own minds. It’s time to take up our feminine power. To be feminine is to stand up for what is right. Many women are afraid to speak up, for very understandable reasons where it could risk their life or health, that’s why we need sisterhood and that’s why we who can speak up, have to do it.
Another reason women are against feminism is because they want to be popular, they want to be seen as attractive, sexy and positive by men and society. It’s trendy to be ‘not a feminist’. It seems in today’s social media, young women find it more important to be attractive to men than speak their mind or fight for what’s right. Feminism is perceived as something that is unfeminine, asexual and assigned to women who are aggressive, ugly and definitely single.
It’s time for the rise of feminine, powerful women – with all their feminine intuition, insight, softness, kindness, warmth, compassion, wisdom, power and strength fully realised. The world benefits when women are women. And women fighting other women are contributing to the separation they say feminism breeds. We need to look to the amazing female feminist role models in the world today, like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Emma Watson, Ellen Page and so many others. The world needs this feminine power, not just masculine women trying to fit into a patriarchal world. We need to bring feminine qualities to the corporate world, and feminine values to education, health and communities.
Powerful women are self-responsible, they call the shots in their own lives and take the responsibility when they fail or make bad decisions. When you don’t objectify yourself and allow yourself to be objectified, especially sexually, you have agency, choice and power. Powerful women are unafraid of failure, unafraid of being unpopular, unafraid of being vulnerable and taking the lonely road.
Only weak men fear a strong woman.
Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal and social equality of sexes. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men. Feminist activism is the struggle for that equality. Fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. That has to stop. I’m sick and tired of men’s selfishness! When we try to fight for equal rights men still thinks it’s all about them and their manhood being threatened. Of course I’m well aware that doesn’t apply to all men, there are many wonderful men out there that work for equality, but lets be real there’s way too many that aren’t. And again it’s about men’ not getting their feelings hurt. Honestly guys, grow a pair. It shouldn’t be called “Be a man” it should be called “Be a woman”. They say women are fragile, but I never seen anything so easily wounded as a man’s ego.
Sexism and hate against women, also called misogyny, is enduring, persuasive, systematic, cultural and ingrained. Men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. Women are intellectual equals and social equals to men. Women should be recognized and treated as equals to men – always! But this is not yet the case. I’m lucky to be raised in one of the world’s most equal countries and still I wouldn’t exaggerate if I say that I face sexism every day in different levels and ways. That also includes objectifying women. The difference between an object and a subject is simple. A subject acts, chooses; an object is acted upon. A subject owns and is responsible for, if nothing else, herself. An object is owned and bears no responsibility. “I’m not your toy”, sings Netta, this year’s winner of Eurovision Song Contest. And that sums it up pretty good. I’m not hear to satisfy men, I’m not here to satisfy anyone but myself. My boobs are not here to satisfy you, they are here to feed a potential baby in the future. They become sexual the moment I choose it, not when a man wants it. Never. And no, I dont need to cover them and my entire body! Why should women take responsibility for men’s disrespectful and abusive behaviour?! It’s my choice and you have absolutely no right to objectify me. I’m not an object. It’s my body as well as it’s any man’s body.
I wrote a blog called “it’s my boobs” a few weeks ago and afterwards a 17 year old girl wrote to me showing her appreciation and telling me how much my blog posts help her. This young girl felt comfortable speaking to me and confided in telling me about her current situation with her male teacher who was continuously bothering her by saying that she had to wear a bra in class because the boys were incapable of concentrating. He told her she’s not allowed to not wear one and that she’s not welcome in class unless she puts one on, this is definitely not true in Germany, he’s not even allowed to comment on something like that. He told her that she’s being provocative, referring to the boys in her class, when it was obvious that he was the one who couldn’t stop starring at her breasts, a man old enough to be her father. Note – she didn’t sit there topless! By her own right and choice she finds it uncomfortable to wear a bra, just like myself, so she doesn’t wear one. She felt really unsure what to do and she was of course a bit scared for her grades to suffer if she spoke back to him. She felt very discriminated, uncomfortable and disgusted by the situation. I advised her to speak to her parents and then go to the principal, which she did. The principal was very upset and had a talk with the male teacher. The problem was that he didn’t stop there, he started sending her emails (I can’t even explain how wrong this is on so many levels) asking her to reconsider what she was doing, he didn’t understand her problem, why she had to be so difficult and why she wouldn’t just put on a bra, all the other girls were wearing one. And the absolute worst, he said that she was begging for something to happen to her. And that she shouldn’t be surprised if it did, the way she dressed! After this we had a long chat and she took things even further. I’m so proud over her for doing that, for being so brave and strong. Having a teacher threatening you like that, and at the same time not getting the best support from home she still fought this battle and I’m glad the school acted fast and correctly – the male teacher is no longer teaching at this school.
But sadly this is just one situation of many. I get so upset when I think of all those young girls that get told to just “act like a girl”, do what you’re being told and shut up. If you speak up, you are difficult and bossy. And all the young boys that learn that it’s okay to objectify girls and that girls aren’t equals. This is where the long-term change has to start – with our kids. It comes down to the patriarchy and the gender expectations from the society. That refers to the pressure women and men feel to perform their gender and the stigma endured by people who fail to perform it “correctly”. It recognizes that decisions are not made in a culture-free vacuum of total free will or by people too dense to know what will make them happy. Society doesn’t have a single clue what will make someone happy, or what is right or wrong for them in their life. If I’m forced by society to act and live in a way that doesn’t fit me, I’m not living my own life, I’m living somebody else’s. We only have one shot here so we better live it the best way possible. Trying to fit into society’s view of how someone of your gender, age, nationality or religion should live will only make you unhappy. You need to figure out yourself what you want to do and who you really are. And everyone should have the right to do that.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela
I have a big issue with people who speaks against feminism. I won’t hate someone who is anti-feminist but I would try to make you think again at what you’re standing for. Cause by saying that you’re not a feminist – that also means that you don’t believe in equality. And by that you deny more then half of the world’s population. Like Emma Watson said, “How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?”
“None of us are free until every last person is living in freedom, and feminism is about fighting for this liberty and each individual’s freedom to choose what’s right for him or her.” /Azriel Reshel
“Some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves.” – Mindy Kaling
Only weak men fear a strong woman.