I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. Not for any particular reason, and there’s nothing that has triggered this thought process off recently, but it has been at the back of my mind for a while. But yeah, for a couple of days now I’ve been going through it in my head and I decided to put it out here, because it is something that really, really bugs me.
I’ll start by clarifying something. I think ‘feminism’ has come to mean different things to different people. And that in itself is okay. To some people, it means trying to ensure women are treated equally in the workplace. To others, it might mean trying to fight for women in other countries who do not have the same liberties that we have in the Western World. And so on and so forth. So that said, I want to make sure before I go into this, I explain what feminism means to me personally, in my own day-to-day life.
I believe in equality, between everyone. Yes, I think there are some major differences between men and women that essentially mean we can’t all be on equal ground when it comes to everything. Even if I trained and worked hard, I doubt I could ever do as many push ups or pull ups as my brother. And that’s okay, because there are some aspects where I am better than him. But I do think people should be judged on their skills and abilities, and not gender or race or anything else. I don’t think quotas work because it means that even if you have a man who is more suited to a job than a woman, the woman may still get it for nothing more than being a woman. And that is sexist. Everyone should be judged equally but it would be naive of me to think that would happen in my life time.
Secondly, I feel that I should be allowed to make my own choices about my own life, whatever they might be. If I had children and was able to, and wanted to stay home to look after them while my partner went to work, then I’m not going to let someone saying “Oh, that’s not feminist” stop me doing that. Because it is feminist, if I made the choice. Similarly, if my partner and I agreed that he would stay at home and I would go to work, then it’s a choice we have made.
What pisses me off is when ‘feminists’ try to speak for all women, or say what they think all women should do. When some women face scorn because oh, they’re not doing feminism right. Or because they shave. Me shaving is having no impact whatsoever on whether we are treated equally or not, and I shave because I prefer it. And if we’re going to insist guys shave beards or cut hair for job interviews or dates, then we sure as hell should do the same courtesy. If you make a decision not to shave, fine. Good for you! I’m glad you are able to make that choice, but you shouldn’t look down on me because I made a different one.
And that’s not even getting started on the attacks on men. I’ve had male friends who have been told that them having sex with a woman makes them a rapist, because apparently every sexual act is rape. No, I don’t get the logic there either.
If a guy wants to buy me a drink, I’m going to be flattered. It’s a gentlemanly thing to do, it shows a level of interest, and I’m not going to sit and complain about being treated as a ‘woman’ because they want to do it or hold a door open for me or whatever. But you know what else? I’ll buy that guy a drink back if I can, and I make a point to hold a door open for someone behind me. It’s not just a man/woman thing, it’s called being a decent human being, and getting into arguments about it is pointless.
You know what. None of those things matter.
I admit I have been privileged. I have not experienced the harshest examples of sexism I have heard other women have, I have been lucky in that the guys I have known – as friends or something else – have treated me as I would want to be treated, have always been decent guys. Yes, I have had moments walking home in the dark where I’ve been scared because some guy starts crossing the road towards me, very drunk and saying things I was unable to hear over my headphones. But I saw his friends – his male friends – grab him and pull him back, and I’ve been walking down that same street and seen guys walk to the other side of the pavement. Why? Because they think they’ll scare me? Because they’re worried about my own reaction to them walking towards me?
My male friends have actually experienced more sexism than I have. They have been told they couldn’t possibly be a feminist because they don’t know what it’s like. They’ve been criticised and shot down for simply being men. They have, essentially, been made to feel that having a dick makes them inferior.
And as long as we keep arguing about the insignificant, as long as we keep making men feel devalued for just being men, made to feel horrible for no reason at all, then feminism, as much as it is still needed, might as well be dead, because it sure as hell won’t achieve anything.