Monday, April 7, 2014

To Be Feminist or Not to Be?

"You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female'."
               - via wardrobe oxygen via Dress a Day
 What a relieving and rebellious idea!

I'm talked about feminism a good bit on this blog, and I... guys, I'm not a feminist.  I know that a lot of feminists claim that Feminism is about bringing equality to the sexes, but in America, it's not.  It's about elevating females to the same place as males, which is done through female-focused programs and calling out all of the terrible injustices committed against females.  The problem I have with this is how it leaves males in the dust.

As with most of my thoughts on this topic, I'm still learning and trying to figure out, not exactly where I stand, but how to articulate and even label where it is that I stand.  Also, new information and ideas come in all the time.  This recent set of new ideas are courtesy of my male husband.

I came to him one day telling him about the Ban Bossy campaign.  "Calling girls bossy when they're standing up for themselves and exercising leadership shuts them down and communicates that standing up for themselves is wrong."  Caleb replied, "Shutting down any child like that is wrong."

Slap in face!

Caleb's tried explaining this to me before, but it wasn't until this talk about Ban Bossy that it began to sink in.  Emphasizing the hardships of one sex only implies that only that one sex has hardships.  Elevating one sex only implies that only one sex deserves to be elevated.

The truth is, women aren't the only victims of sexism, and Feminism in general doesn't necessarily benefit society as a whole, when you consider that men are a part of society.

I will say: I hate the discrimination shown against women, especially violent discrimination, especially-especially honor violence.  It is one of the more abhorrent things on this earth, and it makes me sick.  The idea that anyone has a right to anyone in any way is disgusting and, in my opinion, punishable by something excruciatingly terrible.  I admit that this sin mainly victimizes women, but it does not only victimize women.

Another evil I hate is when people judge others based on their sex, race, speech, association, etc.  Women in the workplace being told "Is there a man I could speak to?" or an elitist white person saying, "I can't believe Spanish is even an option on this credit card machine!" (true story) or men being told, "I don't want my children to be in your class anymore."  It's all wrong.  No one group of people is immune to hatred, and I think that's what I'm getting at.  To champion for one group alone and in the way Feminism does, is not the best way.

A few reasons why general Feminism's way is not the best way:
  • It often endorses (or at least laughs at) the view that all men are pigs and should have rocks thrown at them.
  • It intentionally bolsters one half of society while leaving the other without.
  • Hypocrisy:  Despite touting equality, Feminism seems to have no problem with women claiming more social security checks than men, more alimony, and more healthcare benefits.
  • More hypocrisy: Women hold all reproductive rights in the West, and men have no reproductive rights at all.  (Can you believe that in Britain, it is illegal for a father to get a paternity test to find out if a child is really his without the mother's consent?)  If a woman falsely claims to be on birth control and gets pregnant, in America, the father is on the hook for child support and has no legal say in abortion.  So, men are completely out of control of the situation yet have to live with the consequences.
When I look at the holes in Feminism, I realize I can't support the whole of the movement.  Just as we are teaching girls that they don't owe it to anyone to look a certain way (like in the very good quote above), we should be teaching all people that who they are has intrinsic value.  "Girls are smarter than boys" is no nicer than "Boys are more athletic than girls."  To lump a entire sex into such rigid confinements is unfair and untrue.  A lot of the things Men's Rights Activists and Feminists complain about aren't right, but I knowing the strong biases these movements hold, I can't associate myself with either of them.

Again, I am all about fighting injustice, fighting lies we've been told, and fighting ignorance, but if I were to continue to call myself a feminist, I think I wouldn't be giving an accurate description of what I stand for.  I want equality and justice for all, not just for women.  I do happen to be a girl, and a lot of the things I need to fight in my personal life happen to deal with women specifically, but that's not my sole cause.

Is there a name for something like this?  Putting "fem" in the word Feminism automatically excludes men, so... Equalism?  Am I an equalist?  Am I just a normal person who wants everyone to be free from harm?  Am I a Christian focused on social issues?  What do you think?  Am I just a good person?

Do you disagree with me?  Are there things you think I should know?  Where do you stand?  As always, feel free to email me or comment below, because I really do with this blog to be a platform for conversations, not just my own monologues.

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