In many areas of society, especially social media, “Feminism” has become a dirty word. If you call yourself a feminist, be prepared for a shit storm to head your way. If someone else calls you a feminist, they probably mean it in a slanderous way. This just goes to show the ignorance of society. After being railed on twitter more times than I count in just the last 24 hours, I decided to try to educate people on feminism in a series of tweets that went as follows:
The backlash I received and the amount of hate spewed at me was astonishing. Even from ‘friends’ who argued and railed me in private messages for a head-splitting 2 hours straight.
Why? What did I say that was so threatening or inciting? Of course there are always going to be the typical trolls who just want to fight for the sake of fighting, and you can never reason with those people. My shock came from male friends who claim to support feminism and women’s equality, while at the same time telling me how we shouldn’t be feminist and are just messing everything up. When asked to tell me how we are messing things up (repeatedly) I am met with constantly repeated noise about how we’re trying to push for change too fast. *Floored*
Too fast? Do they not understand how long we have been fighting? What is too fast? We should take our time while countless women around the world are left in horrific states of oppression and abuse? Too fast for who? Not the women who are suffering.
In one of the direct messages I received from a male friend who claims to support equality, I realized something. Many men don’t think oppression is real. They think it is a thing of that past that no longer exists, or only exists minimally.
They think we are moving too fast, and they justify it with statements like this:
Now, I’ll admit, the “Men were slackers” comment was uncalled for on my part. Just remember, this is a few hours into a relentless assault I was under for the tweets I had made. I was frustrated and mentally exhausted by this point. My tongue got the best of me. I’m not even posting all of the hate comments and messages I got. I am only posting conversations that are relevant to the real problems that feminism is facing.
The messages went on to say everything from “Women are weaker biologically, so we will never be equals.”, “Men will never accept women as equals, we just aren’t designed that way, take it up with God if you don’t like it.”, “You’re fighting the wrong fight, If you don’t like the way things are, then change the laws and leave the rest of us out of it.” (A giant WTF to that one btw. Seriously.), and so on to gems like “Women are only pushing for feminism so that they can have control.”
This. So much this. No matter how much we try to explain feminism, they just don’t want to hear it. I again tried to explain it in my response to that last one, that feminism is about equality. 50/50. How is equal shares the same as control? Not once did I get a straight answer to any of the questions I asked back to these people mind you.
I decided to try another approach. A strong undertone in almost all of these conversation was that men felt like they were going to be “less needed” and appreciated because of feminism. I again tried to explain that feminists don’t want to devalue men, and we view equality as a two way street. We don’t want men to be confined to a “gender-approved” role any more than we want that for ourselves. I expressed that not needing men to “protect” us didn’t make men any less valuable. It meant that through equality, we have learned to value men as more than just a “protector”. That their value comes from their intelligence, their compassion, their friendship and our ability to talk to them and have relationships with them in ways that we could not do in the past. Unfortunately, all of this fell on deaf ears and was completely ignored as the next line of “I support women, but I hate feminism” diatribe came pouring out.
So what are we suppose to do? I didn’t want to touch on this too much in this article, but I will say that the “extremist” of feminism are not helping our cause. The “I hate men, men suck!” approach is actually in itself a complete contradiction to what feminism is about. Painting men as lesser than women does not equality make. It is in a large part that these women have hindered our cause. They have screamed and shouted their hateful words so long and so loud that the truth can no longer be heard. One of my favorite sayings is “If you want to be heard, don’t give them a reason to silence you.” Spewing hate is a perfectly valid reason to stop listening to someone, and when it is happening because of someone claiming to fly the Fem-banner, it is hurting us all. If we want to be heard, we are going to have to fight on all fronts now. Not just for a change in men or society, but in women as well. Those who truly support feminism are going to have to stand up and not be afraid to call in to check those among our ranks who are hurting our cause. It is hard as a feminist to call out one of our sisters, but it needs to happen. We can no longer sit on the sidelines while they taint the good name of feminism.