Why do we call feminism feminism if it cares about all genders?
This article is part of the 19th issue of LEAP — Voices of Youth e-letter. Subscribe now.
If feminism not only cares about females and is not hostile to males, why don’t it be rectified as gender equalitarianism?
People who care deeply about gender issues would know that advocates often worry that the articles promoting gender equality are only shared within the same community, yet some perspectives that couldn’t be more natural for them are hard to be accepted outside the community.
Some days before I wrote an article promoting domestic violence to be stopped, however, my friends did not commend much after reading it. I asked nervously if there was anything wrong with the article, my friend respond to me, “So, why is feminism feminism, why don’t we just say gender equality?”
“Why don’t people just call feminism gender equalitarianism?” The question has already been discussed over and over again in the discourse of gender issues, lots of social groups advocating gender equality and feminist scholars have answered the question as well. However, many anti-feminists keep throwing out this question, and not anyone who cares about gender issues could give a fulfilling answer to it. As the question remains unsolved, feminism has triggered conflicts in our society.
If you don’t know how to explain to answer that feminism is not a concept oppressing men, continue reading this article!
Feminism tries to make up the blank space under patriarchal narration
“Feminism” originates from the word “feminine”, which carries the opposite meaning to masculine. Feminism is an ideology based on feminine perspective, in other words, feminism theory is created to rewrite the incomplete narration of patriarchal perspective, mending the lost viewpoints and rights to speak in History.
Think more simply and directly, most of the histories presented in textbooks only mention males, about the bravery they had at wars and how they made decisions strategically, while females are often depicted as femme fatales (e.g. Helen from Troy), who seduced and talked non-sense beside the kings. Under the patriarchal perspective, masculinity is highly promoted, as femininity is degraded.
What feminism intends to fill up is the absence of feminine roles under the patriarchal perspective, providing access for feminine roles to re-enter a public discourse, and allowing them to speak for themselves directly. Through feminism perspective, masculinity is not the highest value to be honored, and femininity would not be degraded, too. Females are no longer seen as property to males, but independent individuals that could work, speak out at public discourses and vote. Meanwhile, males don’t have to be masculine and strong at all time — they are allowed to be soft, to cry and to rely on others.
Hence, the reason why feminism is not rectified as gender equalitarianism is because of the development of feminism. The advocacy of feminism is not only for the inequality between genders to be fixed, but to reverse the absence of feminine narrations in the history. Women’s rights to vote seems to be so common nowadays, but it’s only happening for circa one hundred years, not to mention the long history of voting starting from ancient Greek.
If feminism is only regarded as gender equalitarianism, the absence of females in the history would be missed in terms of how females are seen as the property of males and how they are second-handedly represented through male perspective. Hence, if feminism is only interpreted as gender equality, whose equality is it aiming for? Is it only for the equal rights between male and female? Can equality be quantified? How much longer do we have to fight for it?
Genders are never equal, in fact, women never own enough rights. From the Ye Yong Zhi incident in Taiwan and Johnny Depp’s domestic violence case to the recent Nth Room incident in Korea, all of them are not barely accidents, they resulted from the ignorance of those who exclaim genders are already equal.
The hostility to males never originates from feminism
Anti-feminists may have encountered the loathing of males from others in their lives, for instance, mocking men whose height are under 175 cm as too short or disqualifying men who do not own houses and cars to be a spouse. Even for men who go on a date with women and pay the bills separately would be regarded as irresponsible and stingy.
But the hostility doesn’t come from the statement of feminism, actually, it is the opposite of feminism. If feminism is misunderstood as male-hating and female-supremacy, it would only be presumed hatred, like the discourse between social classes and poverty issues that is regarded as excuses for poor people’s laziness at work.
By this article, I hope it could offer some help for those who once consider why feminism is called feminism, not gender equalitarianism, or those who was asked about this kind of questions but had no idea how to respond.
The statements are not for winning over in fights or debates, but to allow everyone to have better communication with people who don’t understand or misunderstand the meaning of feminism, and have strength to further support what you care about.
Also in This Issue:
Under unpredictable economy and pandemic, men are struggling and suffering from the “ideal” image of a man.
Women are encouraged to pursue a career but still on duty for housework 24/7 without a day off.
Author: Oliver Ou
Hi I’m Oliver, graduated from National Taiwan University majoring in Sociology. Writing for advocacy and having quality sleep are always my top priority.