Women’s rights are important. Feminism has had long history of fighting for where we are today. Well, I believe this history and fight for gender equality is being muddied with a different, negative version of feminism. Feminism and the fight for women’s rights is beginning to become tainted by Toxic Feminism.
What is toxic feminism? What does it sound like? What does it look like?
It is a tool some feminists have begun to use as a way to beat down others because what they are wearing, saying, doing, or sometimes even thinking is offensive to them and marginalizes women in these particular feminists eyes.
Matt Taylor, an astrophysicist that works for the European Space Agency, was once doing a televised talk about an update for the Rosetta space craft. However, most people do not remember what he was talking about at this event. But, rather, what he was wearing. A few of the women in the audience felt that his shirt, depicted in the image to the right, was sexist and portrayed women as objects. So they began to make a scene about his shirt to make their feelings known to him and everyone present.
Taylor was made to feel so upset by the news surrounding his shirt and the fact that he may have offended someone that he gave a tearful apology at a later briefing. Even though he apologized, admitting a wrong, there was nothing wrong with his shirt. The women who made a scene were just offended and rather than hold their opinions to themselves or dealt with it in a classier way they caused a grown man to cry over a shirt.
This is toxic feminism.
They took feminism as a reason to harass a brilliant scientist just because of his shirt. I may think that the shirt is tasteless, but I am not so horrifically offended that I need vilification of his public, tearful apology for some pieces of fabric sewn together.
Emma Watson, an actress most famous for her part in the Harry Potter franchise, is most recently brought into the larger public eye because of a photo shoot with Vanity Fair. This photo shoot correlated with an interview with the magazine in promotion for her new film Beauty and the Beast.
This video above is from online news commentator Philip DeFranco. He explains the Emma Watson photo controversy very well and gives more explanation as to his personal definition of toxic feminism. The main complaint about the photo shoot was that she was wearing a crocheted bolero jacket without anything underneath exposing part of her breasts.
Some women took to twitter to express their grievances with the photo from the interview:
Women were attacking Watson and saying how can she call herself a feminist after this “objectifying” photo shoot, discrediting any of Watson’s opinions and support for women’s rights. Watson’s response? Well, she said in an interview that:
Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with, it’s about freedom. It’s about liberation. It’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it.
This attack on Watson for an artistic photo shoot is toxic feminism.
Toxic Feminism is a handicap to the feminist movement, ending discussions that revolve around the topic of gender equality. It is road block that prevents some women and men from wanting to identify as a feminist.
I believe feminism is separate from this toxic feminism. Feminism is a theory of political, social, and economic equality of the sexes. Feminism is not a tool, a handicap, or a road block. Toxic feminism is embodied in the internet’s Social Justice Warriors (SJWs). These SJWs are professionally offended and fighting for the cause. This attitude allows for the toxicity to spread.
Many of the role models in my life want gender equality, but avoid being called a feminist due to the toxicity infecting feminism. Some of these role models include older cousins and some of my Aunts. Some of these role models come from the internet and the circle of the rich and the famous.
My role models are nervous to call themselves feminists. When they think of feminism they think rage, man-hating, and bra burning. They don’t think of freedom, liberation, and equality are a part of modern feminism.
When I first called myself a feminist I did not really know what a feminist was and what a feminist does to encourage gender equality. All I knew is that equality was what was right and it needed to be encouraged.
Now-a-days, I have a more concrete understanding of feminism. I see feminism as a route to gender equality and a movement any one can join. I see feminism as a way to protect my right to my body. I see feminism as a road to being treated as an equal by my male co-workers.
Feminism is able to be defined by each feminist, but it is an overall positive movement. Feminism is not rage and man-hating and bra burning. Some women try to deny toxic feminism by saying it is different for everyone and that instances like Taylor show that feminism is coming a long way by being taken seriously by men on a large platform.
However, these defenses are wrong because of the very definition of feminism. It is a theory of political, social, and economic equality of the sexes. “Equality of the sexes” is the key part of that definition. Equality is not bullying a scientist in to an apology accented by tears. Equality is not attacking a feminist for an artistic photo shoot celebrating herself and her body.
Feminism is different for everyone. It has become marginally different for me since hearing about other points of views and other versions of activism for gender equality. My feminism is closer to the dictionary definition. What does your feminism look like?