I Am A Female and I Used to Be So Over Feminists
Never in my life would I have imagined myself excitedly writing an article defending feminism. I wouldn’t have even bothered to read the article that inspired this would it have not been for the fact that my younger sister proudly posted it on social media. It hit the feels in a strange way. Not because my sister has different views than I do (we are extremely different people, and that’s awesome!) but because the article had so much mis-information. It seems like Gina Davis, the author of said article, was pretty upset that her boyfriend was bothered over a class discussion that was “hijacked” by the females in the class (because the majority of the class was female). So for one reason or another, Gina felt defensive and wrote an emotionally motivated post with little facts.
At first I thought “Aww, LOL. I used to think like that too when I was 21, you’ll learn honey.” Really though? It is beyond obvious that Davis does not fully understand feminism. When I reflect upon it, it’s funny for me to be the one of our family to identify as the feminist (although I am the undisputed black sheep) yet at the same time, not at all. We were both multi-faceted kids. My sister loved Hot-Wheels, NASCAR, fishing and hunting, and is a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do, but to this day she also loves anything pink and Hello Kitty. I was the one who loved nature but hated getting dirty, a self-proclaimed princess with an obsession for anything Medieval or Egyptian… and c’mon where do you think she learned about Hello Kitty? ;)
We were really lucky to grow and learn with a different perspective. Our mom had always been the full-time working parent with our dad being the one to take odd-hour night shifts so he could care for us during the day. We learned how to be independent; laundry, cleaning, cooking (*cough cough* aka “women’s work”) from him. He was the one carting us to our respective sport practices and club activities. Our mother was the one to keep our family financially stable. It makes a lot of sense for each of us to grow up thinking that we “didn’t really need feminism”, because from a gender roles perspective our family did not fit to the mold of a typical 90's household. We were privileged in a very special way and never truly realized how different our experiences were from anyone else. I believe part of that privilege is to learn from it and help others who never had any of those experiences. It should be our job now to edify how articles like “I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists” can be harmful.
So let’s move into that. I won’t do an entire break-down of her argument because other people like Jamie Ferrell have already done so, and done so very well. Also, neither of them are new posts, they have probably circulated the web thousands of times over now. There are some points, however, that I feel passionately about and like I mentioned, this rant/rebuttal/argument started as a comment to my sister’s post that eventually grew too big for Facebook. It was an attempt to challenge and inspire her thoughts, and now I hope that it will inspire and challenge the thoughts of even more young people.
Davis opens with the quote “I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.” Yo, Gina: so do feminists.
Feminism is against the oppression and stigmatization of BOTH genders at the cultural and societal level. It has nothing to do with blaming men for women’s problems. True, unadulterated feminism stands for holding men and women up to high standards. Feminism is against institutional sexism, because gender discrimination is not a good thing, no matter which gender is on the receiving end of it. Individuals* who identify as feminists think it is unfair that women are stereotyped as helpless sex objects and they also think it is unfair that men get painted as devolved Cro-Magnons that lose control at the sight of some shoulder. In the media, men are portrayed as bumbling idiot husbands and fathers that need to be mothered like little boys. This is not okay, and Feminists agree!
*[Because gasp believe it or not, Men, and Female-to-Male and Male-to-Female transition and third-gender people and, and, and …— AKA anyone who is a human, may consider themselves feminists.]
She says Feminists need to shut up because it is the 21st Century and
“Women have more rights in the United States than anywhere else in the world.”
Well, it is true that women in the US are treated better than they have been in the past, but other countries are far ahead in terms of Women’s Rights. In a survey conducted on the best countries for women, Nordic countries scored the highest. Places like Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands as well as a couple other native English-speaking countries like Canada and Australia scored highest on a compilation of five country attributes: cares about human rights, gender equality, income equality, safe and progressive. One huge win in Sweden is the movement to split childcare responsibilities more equally, as both men and women are now entitled to 480 days of parental leave. That’s great and wouldn’t have been possible without the foundations of feminism.
Gina’s main points, from her her boyfriend’s classroom discussion centered on male-dominated athletics. She also tackled income inequality by telling Feminists to stop complaining because we’re doing pretty well for not being in the workforce as long as men. Uh, hello? The fact that women can even play certain sports and work in male-led professions is possible thanks to Feminist movements. She spoke for women of all shapes and sizes, saying that we are so much more delicate than men, so it’s fine that none of us have an opportunity to take part in certain professional sports. It’s more than a tad silly. “As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It’s a business, not a boycott against female athletics.” She’s right about the money-hungry high-ratings aspect of televised sports, but as Ferrell points out, ‘maybe women would be more interested in turning on Sports Center if they were represented there’.
Her point of view is simultaneously interesting and infuriating. Interesting because I was in a similar place once, and I can reflect on what she wrote and how it would have resonated with a younger me. On the other hand, it kills me for her to be in such a seat of privilege and bash others down from it. Millions of women are struggling for validation on a daily basis, women of color and LGBTQ especially, who do NOT know what it is like to be annoyed by empowerment. Although there are people like Davis who feel feminism does not serve them, it is still of great importance to keep in mind that it is not only for them.
“I am all about being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don’t believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant” gender. There is no “dominant” gender. There’s just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that’s that. Time to embrace it.”
Does Davis really not get it? Or does she, a little bit maybe? Ignoring all of the gobbledy-gook in between, the opening quote and the conclusion of her article are very similar to feminist thought. Oh, except that she completely excludes anyone who identifies anywhere on the gender spectrum. Her tagline on Odyssey says “ My opinions aren’t to please you: they’re to engage you.” And you know what? They certainly did. So, thank you.
Look, even if we don’t all totally agree with every feminist idea, let’s all try to settle on the most important message that is shared by many institutions other than, but also including feminism: LOVE. I’d like to end by paraphrasing a very strong and wise friend:
The violence towards and objectification of women’s bodies has been all over the news lately, and women have felt triggered, hurt, silenced, and fed up. So let’s not blame anyone, let’s take the power we have to keep up the progress. The first place to start is within ourselves.
Personally, I have grown tired of the many subtle ways I become my own oppressor. Any time I compare myself to someone and make myself less than, anytime I criticize myself, I am choosing violence towards myself. I am choosing to ignore the miraculous beauty, the miraculous capacity, the miraculous uniqueness of ME. Yes, we have learned this behavior. But we mustn’t reinforce it with our thoughts. We must love ourselves and each other even more voraciously.