At the beginning of the year, there were photos flying around the Internet of women holding up pieces of paper and proclaiming they “don’t need feminism.” These pictures were inevitably used as memes and went viral. My first reaction was to call these women out and tweet about why I felt so enraged about them declaring themselves “meninists.”
You can understand my anger: there are women out there making conscious decisions to reject a movement towards equality. It makes no sense, especially when the movement is working for equality towards their own gender.
What alarmed me the most is how easily this could have been me a few years ago…
Once you’re woke (aware of social injustice and racism), it becomes really easy to judge these kind of people. You’ve taken the time to educate yourself on how gender inequality affects women, why can’t they? We tend to forget that feminism can often be a journey and everyone’s is different. Some people may be raised by feminists and challenging social injustice may come naturally to them, but for most it’s doesn’t.
Despite the fact feminism was never mentioned in my household, I was lucky enough to be raised by people who taught me that I was just as capable and deserving as my brother. Although my parents taught me how to be a good person, it was the Internet that taught me about what was going on in the world. We’re really quick to judge women who reject feminism and I think we often forget that most of us became feminists thanks to the help of others.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages you’ve had.” – The Great Gatsby
In my opinion, there are two factors that deter women from calling themselves feminist: ignorance and fear.
Growing up, I was taught about drugs, alcohol, sex and physical abuse in school. All these issues are incredibly important to learn about but there are a lot of other issues I feel we need educating on too. I do not recall every being taught about consent and what that entails, how stereotypes can be damaging or sexism.
I feel this anti-feminist attitude comes from a lack of understanding. So instead of shaming these women, we should be trying to educate them instead. It’s easier to ignore problematic comments and a lot harder to sit somebody down and try to understand them.
However, things are improving. One of the things that I was really pleased to see was sanitary product company Always’ latest advertising campaign.
The #LikeAGirl advertising campaign focuses on young girls and how they feel when they’re told they can’t do something. I showed it to my sister and constantly recommend it to people with young children of all genders. I truly believe education is the strongest weapon we have in our fight for equality. If we used it instead of aggression when interacting with people who are misinformed, we’d probably get somewhere.
When I was a really baby feminist and still trying to understand feminism, I often felt confused, intimidated and even a little scared and repulsed at times. I learnt a lot about unfair stereotyping such as angry, man-hating feminists and so forth. Although sometimes you do come across women like this, it’s unfair to assume all feminists feel this way towards men.
“Feminism is about empowering women to make their own choices, to be who they are, to be treated with respect and to respect themselves. It certainly isn’t about pressuring young women to behave or present themselves in a certain way.” – Alice Bishop
I think it’s important to approach these things delicately; try to be as understanding and empathetic as possible. You can still get your message across without resorting to insulting. If you are attacking someone with your views, they’re less likely to listen and more likely to be sent running in the opposite direction.
Communication is key in the battle for gender equality, and it’s something I think we should all be aware of. Think about the people you respect and listen to, and imagine how they would get their views across.
Have you ever tried to bring up feminism to a person who didn’t quite understand it?
How did that go?
Writer, video maker, feminist and crazy Taylor Swift fan.