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I Am A Feminist, And I Often Don’t Understand Feminism

The definition of feminism, as outlined in the current edition of the online dictionary, identifies the movement as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”

This request may seem a little odd, but I’m going to ask you to read that last part again, in confirmation that you understand what it means: “rights of women equal to those of men.” Equal. As in men and women are of equal significance and value to society.

By this definition, I am a feminist, unafraid of the negative connotation associated with the word. I, like many others, believe in the equality of men and women despite the various differences between their personal and physical attributions.

This is a universal concept that is practiced regularly, for it appears as though equality is something we all strive for; whether it’s based on the colour of someone’s skin, the preference of a person’s sexual orientation, or an opposite gender. It has been the inspiration behind numerous protests – a sheer revolution of movements that challenges the political standards of what is classified as “acceptable” and “average” in a nation’s systematic policies.

Unfortunately, as important as this movement is, the current wave of feminism isn’t exactly portraying the qualities of the above concept. Extreme feminists don’t seem to promote the idea of gender equality, but instead propagandize for a society where women should be given things and opportunities because — well, they’re women, and apparently they just deserve it.

I Am A Feminist, And I Often Don't Understand FeminismImage Source: The Libertarian Republic

Fairly enough, that statement may seem like an inaccurate generalization of feminists, but what’s even more unfair is ignoring the countless examples of participants who bluntly disregard the value of men in order to advance their political agenda. The attitude of feminists has become associated with terms such as “man-hating” and “anti-man”, which is ironic since these are the same people fighting for women to be treated as equals to men.

In order to understand the reasoning behind this behaviour, one must understand the evolution and history of feminism. Feminists have been active since the 18th century, though the term was popularized in the 1900s during the introduction of the first wave. Since the revolution has been active for over a century and spans over various obstacles women have faced, the movements have been broken down into four waves, one for each generation.

The first wave, which occurred in early 20th century, focused on legal issues most notably their right to vote; while the second wave focused on receiving equal support in the workforce in the 1960s, and the third one on queer and non-white women. 

Each of the first three movements had a goal, although, in the years following the conclusion of third-wave feminism in the early 2000s, a certain pattern of behaviour has developed from the current and fourth wave — a pattern that is not in sync with the definition that represents the concept of equality. 

In this generation’s ongoing movement, men are being targeted as the “bad guys” by extreme feminists, and are being outcasted as figures that are naturally oppressive against women just by existing. The word “sexist” is spoken lightly amongst daily conversations, treated as if it’s a thing, or a nickname, instead of a degrading accusation that could wind up in legal battles and the downfall of a person’s profession.

Because apparently, if you didn’t vote for Hillary, you are sexist. If you ask a woman to hand you a beer from the fridge, you are sexist. If you prefer to watch men sports over women sports, you are sexist. 

And if you enjoy watching films with women who spend half of their screen time in revealing outfits, not only are you sexist, but you are like every other man in the world  and that is way, way worse.

I Am A Feminist, And I Often Don't Understand Feminism

Image Source: Know Your Meme

Women deserve whatever they want, that’s the message the current wave is sending. That the value of women shouldn’t just be equal to men, but is expected to be higher, and that females should have more opportunities because they’ve encountered more struggles.

But doesn’t that just create an even wider gap between genders? Women want to be treated fairly, which is fair, but then why did they applaud Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he chose women for certain positions of his cabinet because he wanted to represent a feminist approach in his leadership? If women were to be treated as equals, then he would have chosen those who were best suited for the job, regardless of their gender.

Equal opportunities for both men and women – that’s the goal – not using the “woman card” as though being a woman is, in fact, a disadvantage and that they should be recognized and awarded for it.

It seems as though this hypocrisy has only advanced since the development of the fourth wave. In a movement that is for the women, it has become apparent that even women have found it difficult to comprehend this new and urban definition of feminism.

For it does get confusing, this back-and-forth concept of what women can and can not do. They fight for women to participate in men’s sports, though only scold the men who are involved in a physical confrontation that a woman aggressively initiated. They want society to embrace the emotional qualities of women, though refuse to acknowledge the problems that men face.

“Sadly though, the term ‘feminism’ seems to isolate too many men,” said Viva Bianca in her article ‘What The Hell Does Feminism Mean Today Anyway?‘ “Generally speaking, even liberal minded, educated, and relatively evolved men (men who otherwise share in the feminist ideology of gender equality) can momentarily cringe at the mere mention of it.”

Yet gender equality requires the participation of both genders, that’s how it is achieved. How will women gain respect from men if they, in turn, don’t have respect for them or their issues?

I Am A Feminist, And I Often Don't Understand Feminism

Image Source: Odyssey

Regardless of whether or not you believe in feminism and the scattered definitions associated with it, it’s obvious that the term is becoming blurred. Each wave had a goal, though I’m not exactly sure what the current wave’s goal is, and unfortunately, I don’t think they know either.

“True equality, true feminism is recognition of the dynamics that each person brings to the table,” says Teresa Younger, the CEO and president of the Ms. Foundation. “And I say ‘each person’ because women will have reached truest levels of equality when men also have truest levels of equality.”

In terms of current society, we need feminism more than ever — but the right definition. Our world does not have any more room for supreme figures who advocate for the better treatment of specific genders, races, and cultures as opposed to others. In order to achieve equality, feminists need powerful leaders who are able to distinguish the protests into what they should be – peaceful, with a message loud and clear, wanting to make a change. 

For no movement is ever worth the dehumanization of men, and the policies that protect them, nor is it worth the divide of our society in terms of “them” and “us” — “men” and “women.” 

Our world is becoming more divided every day, and there is no need for us to add to it, especially if there is no concrete reason for doing so.

Author

I Am A Feminist, And I Often Don't Understand Feminism
Alexis is currently studying journalism at Ryerson University. Her interests include politics, social issues, and global conflict.