“Do you want to play a game?” I swear I heard that creepy swirly-cheek-tricycle-doll-thing’s voice ask me as my cursor hovered over the little magnifying glass icon, with my three-word hashtag sitting, waiting, in the grey text bar. I knew what was going to happen next would likely enrage me beyond all semblance of sanity, but I refuse to comment on something until I have fully researched it to an extent where I feel comfortable that I understand it. No matter how much it upsets and angers me to look deeper and deeper into the topic.
Taking a deep breath, I inhaled, and hit the “search” button on Twitter.
In my honest opinion, there has never been an oxymoron quite like the #WomenAgainstFeminism movement – though I’m sure there have been, somewhere, I am just far too blinded by my rage at seeing all of those tweets and opinions to think past it right now.
Women against feminism. Just the idea of it baffled me. Why would any woman be against women’s rights? Why would any woman be against equality for all? It seems so counterproductive to oppose the idea of a world that would protect you from sexual harassment, rape, unequal pay, unequal job opportunities, etc, and to perpetuate one where patriarchy and misogyny are allowed to run rampant. What, I asked myself, is convincing all of these women that they don’t need feminism?
The more I dug through the tweets sent out by various feminist-hating women, I discovered there are several reasons why #WomenAgainstFeminism exist in this world, and are fighting so passionately against their sisters who are standing up to protect them, and behind these reasons are several types of anti-feminism personas adopted by those using this upsetting hashtag (both male AND female, hilariously) and those are: The Shamer (both Emotional and Extremist editions), The Bully, The Proud, The MRA Sympathizer, and The Victim Blamer.
The Shamer (Emotional Edition)
The first type of Shamer likes to play on the emotions, the self confidence; to make people feel weak, lame, and pathetic for supporting feminism, because they’re supporting a cause that is “whiny”, “overemotional”, etc. Basically, if you’re a feminist, you’re victimizing yourself and you’re just far too emotional. And not only that, but these Shamers tell you that, by being a feminist, you automatically assume that even your closest male friends are going to hurt you, and that every man is innocent and you are demonizing them. You’re actually just terrible, emotional, hateful people. Maybe you’re all on your periods, or something.
The Shamer (Extremist Edition)
These Shamers like to call all feminists out for being “biased”, “ugly”, “hateful”, etc. Instead of listening to reason and the REAL intent and message behind feminism, The Extremist edition of the Shamer decides to continuously drag up really bad examples of extremist quotes and pretend that these apply to all feminist ideals and beliefs. Sort of like saying the Westborough Baptist Church and their God Hates Fags movement represent all Christians, I suppose.
The bully is just outright mean. You remember that kid on the playground who told all the other kids, “If you touch the nerd, you’ll catch nerd disease!” – that’s who the Bully is. Basically, this version of the men and women behind this hashtag will just outright attack women who are feminists in a way that would make one feel embarrassed to be associated with them, sometimes via extremely dry sarcasm. By trashing feminism and the women who identify as feminists, they can terrify you out of standing up for yourself. Here’s some fun examples.
One of the main reasons I believe the #WomenAgainstFeminism hashtag exists is because women still don’t understand what feminism truly stands for, likely because of all the misrepresented information and messages they’ve been receiving from others who don’t understand it or are against it. And so, these women take great pride in the fact that they “haven’t been swept up onto that bandwagon” and that they “haven’t been brainwashed into believing they don’t have equal rights”. Basically, if you’re a feminist, you’re a toddler throwing a temper tantrum and we’re just WAY too cool for that sh%#.
The MRA Sympathizer
These folk either a) take all of the problems women face in their day to day lives, and flip it around to focus on men as the victims, or b) act like feminists are just trying to blame men for their problems. Apparently, according to these #WomenAgainstFeminism hashtaggers, feminists are actually oppressing and hurting men, despite the fact that feminists constantly remind everyone that we are actually fighting to end a patriarchal society that oppresses men AND women. Who knew???
The Victim Blamer
These people are frightening. They seem to genuinely believe women should be blamed for their own rapes, and that we shouldn’t be teaching men “don’t rape”, we should be “practicing better judgement”. I genuinely hope that if any women these people know do happen to be raped or abused, they are treated with more kindness and understanding than they are showing current assault victims. Le sigh.
So why are these women REALLY against feminism?
Most of the reason why I wanted to look into WHAT exactly is fuelling the #WomenAgainstFeminism movement is because I, as a feminist, can’t understand why any woman anywhere would ever stand so passionately against people (and note how I say people, because there are people of all genders who identify as feminists) who are fighting for their rights. And it seems that the biggest contributing factors are a) women don’t understand what feminism is truly fighting for, likely because of all of the hate and backlash that feminism receives in the media (especially online), b) women are proud of not being feminists, whether it’s because of some hipster ideology of not wanting to “follow the crowd”, or because of our first reason, which is that a great deal of women still don’t understand (or want to accept) what feminism truly is, and would rather believe that it is a heinous, hateful, biased cult of man-hating Amazons who want to feast on the flesh of their male counterparts, and c) being a feminist is fucking terrifying thanks to all of the hate, bullying, threats, and other day-to-day crap that women who actually stand against all of this have to go through. Because anti-feminists are NOT shy about letting you know exactly what you will face if you dare support the movement.
Regardless, coming back to the main point of this blog post… when I look at all of these women who are supporting the #WomenAgainstFeminism movement (and actually, that’s a funny note I made – did ya notice how many MEN were using that hashtag? I’m not sure they got the memo on how this hashtag works…), I have to wonder whether they have a credit card. A car, or an apartment. A job. A pet. Children that they have custody of. An education, or a degree. Whether they pride themselves on voting as often as they can and making their voices heard. Because all of these are things that radical thinking women (otherwise known as feminists, or protofeminists before the term came about) have campaigned for in the past on behalf of every woman who walks this earth today.
So I went on the Internet (remember the days when we had to go down to the library and check out a book? Geesh) and google’d up some just a couple of awesome examples of things that feminists throughout history have made it possible for women these days to enjoy – some of whom are using the #WomenAgainstFeminism hashtag despite still enjoying, which is beautiful irony in my opinion.
When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was pushed through office, banning any kind of discrimination based on “religion, race, colour, or national origin”, there was a gaping hole left in it which still allowed discrimination based on gender. A women’s rights movement called NOW (the National Organization for Women) continued to put pressure on President Johnson to include gender in this bill, so that women could be treated as equals too. One of Johnson’s most notable executive orders is Executive Order 11375, which prohibits discrimination based on gender in the fields of hiring and employment. If it weren’t for NOW and other feminist movements pushing for this to be written in, it is doubtful that women would have the same rights when it comes to jobs nowadays – basically meaning that an employer could throw your resume in with the recycling simply because your gender is anything other than “male”.
In short, feminists made it possible for women to enjoy chasing a career or working a job, rather than being forced to remain in the household cooking, cleaning, and pumping out babies. And modern feminism doesn’t dissuade women from being stay-at-home wives – all it does is give you the right to choose.
2) Sports and Education.
I mentioned the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the last example, but another bill that was put through because of NOW and other feminists protesting that gender should be included in this was Title IX. Although many were concerned about protecting male athletics and such, they wrote Title IX to ensure that women could not be discriminated against in education in regards to math and sciences, dormitories, healthcare, changing rooms and other facilities, school band and clubs, equipment and supplies, and even sports.
In short: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
For all of the UK #WomenAgainstFeminism who own any kind of property, the Married Women’s Property Act 1870 is what first allowed you to be the legal owners of any money you earn and any property you purchase or inherit. Before this date, anything a woman owned or earned would automatically become her husband’s property the instant she was married – even after his own death. Earlier on, in 1857, a law was passed that allowed women to divorce their husbands on the grounds of domestic abuse or violence (before this, men were allowed to beat their wives, as they were considered their “property”). All throughout history, feminists have campaigned for their rights to own property and to not be treated as property and, without these feminists, we would not have those rights.
4) The Vote.
Women’s suffrage astounded me in high school. I was an outspoken, radical-thinking child; I believed in fighting for one’s rights, no matter what the opposition, no matter how outnumbered. I suppose the main reason I was so terrified and flabbergasted at what these women went through was because, had I been alive during this time, I likely would’ve been one of the women involved with the movement. Before and during women’s suffrage, there was an absolute tonne of horrendously sexist and quite frankly just cruel propaganda that told tales of why women should not be allowed the vote. Feminists like the suffrage movement fought for women’s rights regardless of the torture they were put through. And before this period in Britain (which was the main focus of my women’s suffrage studies), there were hundreds of years of suffrage, of women fighting for their right to vote alongside men, all over the world. But because of these feminists and radical thinking women, people today are allowed to vote despite their gender; without feminism, women today would have zero rights to vote in regards to anything.
5) A few other things of note… mostly about voting…
- In the 1780s and 90s, during the period of the French Revolution, women’s suffrage became a huge movement to push the rights for women in France to vote. Although other tribes and groups had included women on voting rights before in the past, under very very limited conditions and circumstances, this was the first historical point where women began actively campaigning for equal voting rights.
- In 1914, WWI began. The British Suffragettes suspended all actions to help the war effort in their own expression of patriotism for Britain. They not only took over the jobs of all the young men and boys who went to war, but worked highly dangerous jobs in munitions factories.
- In 1948, the United Nations introduced female voting rights into international law – around 168 years after the first battles for women’s suffrage began in France. For 168 years, generations of feminists fought against unspeakable odds for their right to vote alongside men as equals.
- Mary Wollstonecraft, Florence Nightingale (who changed modern healthcare for both patients and nurses), Millicent Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Blackwell (the first female doctor), Coco Chanel, Betty Friedan (the first president of NOW), Benazir Bhutto, Hillary Clinton, Joan Jett, Madonna, and Malala Yousafzai have all worked tirelessly to ensure women are given equal opportunities in many different fields. Go on a Wikipedia spree and read up about how these amazing women have changed our world for us!
And here’s 30 things feminism has done for you, as a woman!
I’ve trawled all over the Internet and textbooks, and found thirty things that feminism has done for you, as a woman living in today’s modern world. Whether you want to believe it or not, feminism and feminists are responsible for helping to obtain these rights for you.
- You have the right to vote.
- You have the right to divorce an abusive husband.
- You have the right to own property.
- You have the right to keep your property after being married.
- You have the right to education.
- You can receive scholarships.
- You can play sports as a hobby.
- You can play sports professionally, even in the Olympics.
- You can get a job other than being a stay-at-home wife.
- You can’t be denied a job for being a woman.
- You can’t be denied a job for being pregnant.
- You can train to become a lawyer and practice law.
- You can train to become a doctor and practice medicine.
- You can’t be denied a job for being married/single/widowed/etc.
- You can continue working even after you’re married/pregnant/etc.
- You can start your own business or be self-employed.
- You have the rights to all of the money you earn.
- You have the rights to birth control.
- You can choose whether or not to have children.
- You can have sex without being married.
- You can say “no” to sex.
- You can report a rape.
- You can report sexual harassment.
- You can report domestic abuse.
- You can choose who you want to love/marry/etc.
- You can choose to wear trousers or a short skirt.
- You can choose to wear loose- or comfortable-fitting clothing.
- You can serve in the military.
- You can run for office.
- You can sit here, right now, and use this computer to look up information freely rather than being force-fed whatever the men who “own” you tell you is the truth.
So, what next?
To my female readers who use the #WomenAgainstFeminism hashtag, who identify as #WomenAgainstFeminism, and who are proud to not consider themselves feminists or support the feminist ideology, I beg of you. Please…
1) READ! Start here. Use Google. Go out onto the Internet and discover what feminism really is. What it stands for. And if the “femme” part is a little off-putting to you, please read my previous post on why it’s called that!
2) BE BRAVE! It’s daunting being a feminist in today’s world. I’ve received hate mail, rape threats, death threats; I’ve been bullied and called out more times than I care to recall; I’ve been harassed and belittled by both men and women alike. But I know that I am fighting for a better world for everyone – not just women, but for men too. And that is enough to keep me strong.
3) STAND UP FOR ALL OF OUR RIGHTS – MALE AND FEMALE! Feminism isn’t just about equal rights for women, it’s about ending a patriarchal society that shames and oppresses men as well. Patriarchy and Male Rights Activists will have you believe that feminism is oppressing and blaming men, and that there isn’t a problem with inequality – THIS IS NOT TRUE! Men are being oppressed by a society which tells them they have certain gender roles to stick to, and that they are “weak” or a “pussy” if they can’t fulfill these unemotional, stern, tough stereotypes. Feminists fight to change this, so that men can be treated like human beings, so that male rape/eating disorder/abuse/etc victims can come forward.
4) EDUCATE OTHERS! There are still so many lies floating around about what feminism is and what feminists truly stand for. I look for opportunities to enlighten others who are simply misguided and misunderstanding us, to let them know what we truly believe in, and to stop rumours and lies from being spread any further.