The “F” Word

Feminism, before any of you think I’ve become incredibly prudish in regards to swearing.

I’ve neglected this blog a bit for the latter half of this year, but that’s because I’ve been in university. I’ve been at university studying something that is really not very “ladylike” in that half my degree is Archaeology. It’s academic (gasp) and it’s going to be messy at parts (zoinks!) and you know what? It’s fun. And whilst I’ve been rather silent over here I’ve still been reading other blog posts and once again, I’ve read one that’s really kinda annoyed me.

Before I go any further, I want to thank my parents. I want to thank my dad for raising me to believe that whilst a man should be respectful of you or he’s not a good man, not to be expected to be treated like a princess. I want to thank my mum for not instilling in me the “importance” of pure femininity and letting me wear what I want and (over the age of like 3) not putting me in frilly dresses that I had no time for. I’d like to thank them for the upbringing that focussed on respect and the celebrating of individuality and not making being different weird.

Did I grow up in an overtly feminist house where I woke up first thing in the morning to repeat a mantra of “men are monsters, support yourself and rely on no-one”? No. Of course I didn’t. Would my parents call themselves feminists? Probably not. You’d need to ask them.

I just read a blog post called “I Am A Mother Of Two Children And I Cannot (And Will Not) Support Feminism” which because I don’t believe in censorship I’ve linked so you can read it if you so wish. To summarise for those who don’t want to read it as well as this, it’s about a mother raising two sons and feeling as though feminism is demeaning to them and why shouldn’t she raise her sons to be gentlemen and to give girls compliments when they feel them even though feminists think it’s “harassment” and she wants to raise them to treat women as princesses and there’s many other things of which I’ll touch on a couple.

The idea of raising men to think women are princesses doesn’t sit well with me just as raising women to think that men should treat them as princesses doesn’t sit well with me. It only creates an environment where these women feel entitled to their significant other’s pay cheque before they are and men put themselves into debt trying to please their lady-friend. Trust me, I’ve seen it. (Also, I’m incredibly aware of how hetero-centric all these comments are but I’m writing in purely a response to this lady because she’s failed to even acknowledge her boys could potentially be gay).

And to just derail from my original point slightly, if a girl gets really mad at you for holding a door open for her or offering to carry something that she’s clearly struggling with, that’s not feminism in action. That’s someone who has a lot of issues personally and should not be treated as a yardstick of which to measure feminism against.

Let’s go over the suggestions she put forward for “feminism” being detrimental to her sons. She first mentions the “FCKH8” campaign and suggests that it’d have girls telling her sons to f*ck off if they called them pretty or reached for their hand without permission. (Also, ironic that I mentioned I wasn’t for censorship and then censored myself, I got it). The video she linked to is of little girls swearing but because they were asking what’s more offensive? A little girl swearing or the fact that 1 in 5 women get raped or sexually assaulted? Or the fact that women who graduate with straight As in the US get paid about the same as men who graduated with Cs? It mentioned that whilst being called “pretty” is a compliment (and it is) it shouldn’t be something you solely focus on for a little girl because it can lead them to believe that being pretty is their paramount concern in life. It didn’t at any point say “Tell a dude to f*ck off if he calls you pretty or holds your hand.” That’s kind of insane.

This next one really annoys me in the way she’ has trivialised it. She suggests that the “Hollaback!” campaign is saying that if a man makes eye contact, smiles or says “Hello” to you on the street that women think it’s creepy and scary and should be thought of as a predator. Here’s Hollaback!’s mission statement: Hollaback is a movement to end street harassment powered by a network of local activists around the world.  We work together to better understand street harassment, to ignite public conversations, and to develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces. Wow, almost like it wants to end street harassment and not at all suggest that men are monsters. Interesting. Street harassment is having things shouted at you in the street that you feel are intimidating because they’re threatening or they’re overtly sexual and they don’t make you feel safe. It’s not a man smiling and saying “Hi there” to you as he walks past. Don’t trivialise things to make your point.

#YesAllWomen is the next campaign to come under fire. She says that it puts forward the message by stating that all men are rapists because the statistic that I’ve already cited (being 1 in 5 women get sexually assaulted in their lives) means 100% of men were rapists. If 100% of men were rapists, wouldn’t that statistic be higher? Like, I don’t know, 5 in 5 women? The fact remains that 20% of women are raped or sexually assaulted and that’s terrifying. Men also get raped and assaulted, yes. I don’t have that statistic on me right now but if I find it I’ll add it in. (I can’t find male-specific data but 1 in 4 people are sexually assaulted, so 25% of people, and yes the perpetrators can be female also before I’m thrown that argument). I’ll leave you with one final statistic on the #YesAllWomen front, in US congress in 2013 there were over 700 bills proposed to regulate a woman’s body, and there were 0 for men.

She mentioned more but frankly I’m writing far too much already. She goes on to mention that men and women can never be equal because each gender has it’s limitations. If you want to get pedantic about it, sure, the only way we could ever be fully equal is if we were snails, because snails have both male and female parts and all of them can reproduce. I feel that a lot of our information about feminism comes from tumblr and sites like that in which we have a lot of angry teenagers using a blogging platform to express how they’re feeling because they can’t quite figure it out yet because they’re still kids and kids say weird things sometimes.

Feminism is about equality. It’s not about making men feel inferior. It’s about making it okay that a woman wants to do a “male job” like be a plumber (I’ve never seen a female plumber so it was the first thing that came to mind) but also making it okay if a man wants to be a stay at home dad. Feminism is also about being okay with women who choose to conform to their gender stereotypes and roles because they had that choice. And to bring it back to a more personal note, I’m a big proponent of feminism because I am really sick and tired of hearing things like “Being an archaeologist won’t give you much time to spend with your family” or “Why would you want to get a PhD because you’ll only become Mrs. Whatever once you’re married and lose your Dr status.” That last one I’ve heard several times and it’s incredibly frustrating and ridiculously ignorant and I want to smack people on the head who say that. But I won’t, because that’s assault and that’s bad.

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