Hey readers! I hope you’re all having a wonderful start to your summer and are enjoying this beautiful weather!
As those of you who follow our comments may have seen, I recently had a very lively and interesting debate with a reader about the very use of the word “feminism.” There are some people who argue that the term is outdated and should be tossed out because it does not encompass everyone. Because the word so blatantly focuses on women, some argue, it ignores the needs of others for equality.
But as this fantastic article from The F Word, a UK feminist blog, points out, like language, feminism has evolved to encompass all human rights. While this was not always the case, since the 1990s, feminism has evolved in a major way to focus more and more on how patriarchy impacts everyone in a given society, not just women. The author writes,
For me feminism’s aim is to see the destruction of a patriarchal system which does not just imprison women but all of humanity. Men are not the culprits here- patriarchy is, and men are just as entrapped by patriarchy as women are, just as the Wall Street Banker is as much entrapped by capitalism as the anti-capitalist activist. We are not rallying against individual people, individual genders, individual classes; we are rallying against a dominant belief system – one which has all of humanity by the throat.
She also notes that we have to stop thinking of feminism in terms of binaries. Because our society encourages this idea of “binary,” we tend to think of everything in terms of opposition. Because feminism is obviously pro-woman, it must be anti-man, right? Wrong. Feminism seeks to liberate men from patriarchy too, because it hurts everyone.
As another F Word article points out, patriarchy hurts men by taking away their agency as well. The author points out the way rapists are depicted in the media, as poor stupid men who just “couldn’t help themselves.”
they [feminists] don’t imply that such behaviour is acceptable because its genetic or ‘natural’ for men to behave that way, like those arguments defending rapists which imply that men are really all just stupid cavemen who can’t be blamed when they rape because, hey, men just can’t help it when they see someone in a mini skirt.
So where am I going with this? What I’m trying to say is that feminism, the word AND the movement, are still relevant. If we stop identifying with our beliefs, then we’re continuing to give in to this restrictive, binary system created by patriarchy. If you don’t like the way the word is being depicted in the media, then get out there and do something about it. Start a blog, discuss politics with your friends and family, post links on your facebook. Show people that the definition of feminism is a belief in equality for everyone.