I recently found out about this via BBC news. My first thoughts were: frown, what?, hmm okay, No. I call myself a feminist yet at the same time refrain from doing so because of the social stigma that comes with it and trends such as this one. On one hand, being a feminist gives me a community of women to relate to, share experiences with. On the other hand, it makes me wonder about the message I’m sending out, what I’m fighting for, and whether these issues are actually issues. However, a hashtag of women against feminism instantly makes me align myself with the feminists. Because it’s one thing not calling yourself a feminist, and another being against feminism. It is disappointing, because this is another example of women vs women, still competing and slandering and completely missing the message entirely.
After looking around a bit on the Women Against Feminism Tumblr, I understood where some of the women were coming from. i.e. the deconstruction of family life, the extreme anti-men agendas. No, being a housewife by choice and having a loving family does not make you weak. No, asking a guy to open a jar or carry something heavy for you instantly does not make you a ‘weak’ woman. Yes, these attitudes as this towards other women are definitely toxic and belittling.
But we still need feminism when 200 Nigerian girls are kidnapped because Western education is a sin. When women are expected to be housewives or perform certain ‘gender roles’ without a choice. When still, in current day, girls as young as 14 are sold into marriage and childbearing, prohibited from learning any other skill or pathway because ‘they will have no use for it’. When I see descriptions of tablets made for women who aren’t inclined to family life and children, to make them more so. When FGM still exists in our society and has crippling effects on its victims. When women are labelled as ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’ for speaking out. When they’re frowned upon for approaching taboo topics that might be harsh for their gentle manner.
What the hashtag #womenagainstfeminism misunderstands is how feminism is not about anti-men, anti-hetrosexual relationships and nuclear families. It is about choice and equality and having the freedom to make those choices and recognising individual circumstances and desires. And the extent to which we, as a society, make people feel comfortable with such choices. I also couldn’t help but notice that most of these problems are rooted in privilege of the ‘first world’. We have the privilege to choose to educate ourselves by going to college or not. To love, marry and have a family with who we want or not. To dress how we like. To walk free in public spaces and compete for almost every job. To drive, to live alone, to move out. Things that we take for granted which women in other parts of the world are still fighting for.
Even in our society, the media dictates and socialises young girls into looking pretty, and the most appealing they possibly can through the way they dress and appear. When it leads to women getting cosmetic surgeries at young ages, anorexia, bulimia, to social insecurities, suicide, to infinite stress and the hours we spend on making ourselves beautiful according to someone else’s pre-defined standards. When women judge each other as a form of inverted misogyny. Yet even these are still first world problems compared to the examples given on this blog which sums it up way better than I could.
To me, the hashtag #womenagainstfeminism calls out the privilege that it is rooted in and ignorance of the wider world and even often their wider communities. Most of us live in multicultural societies where problems like these still go on even if on a smaller scale. It ignores considerations of race, ethnicity, class and backgrounds. Those using the hashtag may not feel oppressed because of their gender, but there are still thousands, even millions of women who are. Yes, modern feminism does need to move beyond rallying naked in New York streets and the cm measurements of the hair on our legs, to the bigger world. But to be against even recognising that there are women, even young girls who still need feminism isn’t simply ignorance, it’s attitude devoid of any human compassion.
Some other pretty great articles I came across while reading on this are below: