I found this little gem this afternoon while I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, entitled 14 Women Say Why They Don’t Need Feminism. You can pretty much guess what the Buzzfeed post is about from the title: 14 women express the various reasons why they (believe) they don’t need feminism. Most of the 14 pictures expressed similar views, as:
-the goal of feminism is to demonize men and blame them for women’s issues.
-feminism is outdated. It may have been useful 100 years ago, but women can now vote, enter into contracts, and own property. It’s useless now.
-women use feminism to justify their immoral ‘slutty’ actions, like abortions, dressing in revealing clothing, and having sex.
-I refuse to be a victim. I do not need to be ‘empowered.’ Feminists cause all women to be victims, and all men to be oppressors.
Now, while these views might seem unenlightened on the surface (or not, depending on your opinion), there is a certain degree of validity to each of these views, which I address one by one below:
- Radical feminists do demonize men. However, these are extremist feminists, and the extremists of ANY group never represent the views of the majority. That’s why they’re called extremists. Most feminists fight for the rights of men as well as women. You don’t condemn all Muslims because a few radicals turned to terrorism, do you? Hopefully not.
- It’s true that feminism has accomplished a lot of big goals, but that doesn’t mean gender inequality has been completely abolished – we still need to deal with double standards, stereotypes, objectification, restrictions on dress, and don’t forget that pesky wage gap – these are just a few examples.
- The fact that you condemn women for behavior men are encouraged to exhibit (such as sexual promiscuity) proves that gender inequality still exists.
- I commend these women on their self-confidence, but this view is limited and self-centered. Even if you personally have never been a victim of even the mildest forms of misogyny (something I can’t quite believe), that doesn’t mean that all women – or even a majority – are that lucky. This is true in developing nations as well as Western countries. Here in the U.S., gender discrimination affects poor women the most, especially minorites.
All of these pictures made me cringe, but there was one that actually angered me. It’s the one featuring the female soldier in Afghanistan:
As a female soldier (as a soldier in general) she certainly is courageous and strong, but her choice of words and italics conveys that thinks other women aren’t capable of courage and strength, especially feminists. It implies that the only way to be courageous and strong is to by participating in traditionally male behavior, like joining the military and shooting guns, and that women who choose more traditionally female roles for themselves are, by definition, timid and weak.
This is the very definition of gender stereotyping, folks. This is first-class girl-on-girl misogyny. I have a feeling that this woman is the type who “doesn’t like” other women because she pre-judges them as catty and shallow.
Without the feminist movements of the 20th century, this woman would never have been allowed to join the military in the first place, vote, own property, or even wear pants without social ramifications.
But she doesn’t *need* feminism, and she has awards, medals, and commendations to prove it.
I wonder what she thinks when she sees the Afghan women she’s there to help, women who aren’t even allowed to leave their homes without male escorts, women who could be beaten or even killed if a man should even hear their footfalls on the pavement.
Does she think they aren’t courageous enough? That they aren’t strong enough as they fight to survive every day in a place where their lives are valued the same as cattle? Does she realize that barely five decades ago, women in Afghanistan were allowed to go to college, to work, to walk around freely on their own?
Does she think it couldn’t happen here, too?
I’m not saying that the U.S. is headed for that level of misogyny, but to claim that we don’t ‘need’ feminism is ignorant, and dangerous. I highly recommend you to read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. While the dystopia described therein is extreme, it’s a great story, and has an important message about women’s rights and the importance of not becoming complacent.
Note: I started this post last night, and realized this morning that the picture above of the female soldier had been mysteriously replaced. I can only imagine that she or someone else requested it to be removed. Luckily, I saved it to my computer.