When I was younger, I didn’t really understand what feminism was, or what it stood for. However, through inspirational women, inspirational teachers and influential readings, it became quite clear to me early on that I was a feminist. I think, when I was younger, I thought that feminism meant I couldn’t shave my legs or underarms, dress like a girl, and needed to ‘burn my bra’ and, with those negative stereotypes in mind, I couldn’t support that.
Later, of course, I learnt that they were just negative (and misguided) stereotypes of feminism, often portrayed by sexist and misogynistic men (and women who, like me at the time, didn’t know better). I learnt, instead, that feminism wasn’t just about women’s rights, but men’s, too. I learnt that while things weren’t even close to being equal for women, in many ways, men were in the same boat. I learnt that feminism was about equality for everyone, pure and simple. Feminism is a movement designed to progress equality for men, women, transgendered or transsexual people, lesbian, gay, bi, straight, privileged, non-privileged, and people of different races and colours (and probably more).
It’s about making sure certain groups aren’t marganlised; unfortunately, that’s a big list to cover. And being in a Western society, unfortunately, white people have a tendency to be heard more – even if we have the best intentions. I may have, at times, being bullied, harassed, abused and treated badly – but I’ve never experienced what it’s like to be hated for something visible on sight, that makes me “different” for just existing.
With that in mind, I think it’s important that all feminists are accepting of different feminist sects – sometimes, people need to feel their voices are heard. Feminism fights for so many different forms of equality, so many different needs, that in the “main” movement, it’s often just white women’s voices we hear.
Despite the fact that I strongly believe that true feminism is about equality for all – not just women, and not just straight white women – but literally for everyone, I’ve learnt recently that many people either don’t get this idea or (particularly men, sorry guys) like to bash you for believing in equality.
Despite me believing this, I’ve learnt two things.
Number one: sexism and misogyny is definitely alive and well and apparent in our society (and not many give a damn about it).
Number two: because of reason number one, the feminism movement is actually needed and it’s insane that people think it’s not because I should not, ever, have to be attacked because I am a woman expressing my opinion.
For example, the other day, I saw a post on Matt Okine’s speech and how he was speaking about the fact that almost no women were nominated at the ARIAs at all. In multiple categories – not just his, although he did focus on this (his category was comedy).
Many men had already commented on this video, saying it wasn’t sexist for women not to be nominated – but mainly making general insults about women and “feminazis”.
I commented (not in reply to anyone, not indirectly to anyone, just commented) saying that I liked Matt Okine’s speech and I thought that feminism was a movement that was obviously still needed in society and that I thought his speech highlighted this.
A barrage of taunts, insults, and mockery (mainly from men, but surprisingly from some women, too). I was called fat, stupid, uneducated and ugly. I was told that the wage gap was a “myth” (umm, actually not a myth – and this was relevant to my comment, how!?) and that women had all the rights in society, not men. (Apparently, and this is actually a direct quote from one of the men, the definition of feminism is: ‘the radical notion that women are oppressed by a society that caters to their every demand’.)
This is exactly my point. (It was like these wankers were supporting my point of view, not mocking me for having one.) The name-calling. The bashing. The attacking of my physical features and not my actual argument. (Well, it was just a comment, I wasn’t actually trying to start an argument or say anything other than I supported Matt Okine.)
While everyone experiences some form of internet harassment at some point, it’s definitely worse for women.
It’s not the first time it’s happened to me, either. Sticking up for refugees?
I deserve to be raped.
Saying that not all Muslims are bad?
Definitely crazy. And also deserve to be raped. And stoned to death.
It’s continuous. It’s insane. It’s, again, #yesallwomen even if it’s #notallmen.
And it proves exactly why we need feminism.