I Can Explain That: Feminism

Time for our newest segment, “I Can Explain That”, starring me and the internet.

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I have a confession to make, and I know everyone will be absolutely shocked. I’m a feminist.

Okay, no real theatrics there, but you would be surprised how many people need to hear that. To me, being a feminist is a natural extension of my secularism (or humanism, or skepticism… my philosophy and such). If you question the validity of a deity, you should be a feminist. 

Are all atheists, feminists? No, actually big poppa Hitchens was known for some rather misogynistic views (though he may have still claimed being a feminist), mostly based on the social basis for gender roles. You will find a lot of atheists with different views on the topic, but for me there is no choice. So I get a little concerned when I see some of my nerdly or atheist brothers and sisters go down the road toward misogyny. 

I can understand it. For those who don’t prowl the internet, there is occasionally (read: often) an unhealthy backlash against the push for women’s rights. While most of us don’t want to be a ‘bad guy’, some vocal people can’t help but push back whenever women make a little headway. 

You may have heard some of it before: “I don’t get why it isn’t just called humanism, why try to help only women?” “You think women don’t control the world? They can get whatever they want.” “Women have it so easy, yet they just keep on asking for more.”

I said the first one in the past, and I think my reasons why aren’t far from the fear (yes, it is fear) that is behind comments similar. 

Men suffer, as a general fact. Like women, like any other human, men have bad days, have bad lives, have bad experiences that came about directly from being men. As children we learn about feminism, and not too distant from ‘white guilt’ a young man can feel the burden of ‘men’s guilt’ (and White Men’s guilt, well then you have Stormfront.org). What in the world isn’t your fault? You wake up early for school, try to go hang out at lunch with your friends, try to seem just cool enough that you get laid sometime before heat death, and then a lesson in class comes along where you find out that you personally fucked up the life of every single woman on the planet. You don’t know where you found the time, maybe it was while you took a piss break? It was you though, in a secret pact with every other person with a penis.

At least that is how it comes across. In defense of my teachers, I wasn’t always the best student. So when you start to craft those juvenile opinions of your own, and you realize that everyone around you is in agreement on this, that this patriarchy is at fault for the world’s woe, you feel the need to call a timeout. Didn’t we just have a woman run for president? Besides, they have been able to vote for ages, get whatever job they please short of some places in the military, and isn’t the military a dangerous trap for young men? Yeah, you say, all those ‘male dominated’ fields are death traps that we are pushed into just as fast as women are pushed toward nursing. 

I’m sorry, I’m getting off track here. The point is, the knee-jerk reaction isn’t as ridiculous as some people may think. The problem is how this reaction comes together, how it is formulated.

To put it simply, cowardice. Instead of studying the thing they oppose, instead of being a proper skeptic of the feminist position, the angry men of the internet pick at low-hanging fruit. 

Because young feminists don’t spring from the proverbial womb as master debaters (heh, good joke). These young men, women, all, are figuring out what is important to them. As they shake the bonds of oppressive concepts, like unfair beauty standards, suppression of opinion, and a culture built on bedding women as a success indicator, you will find disorganized social campaigns about appearance, loud as all hell cries to be heard, and attempts to equalize the sexual landscape. 

Is it feminism? Definitely. It isn’t always fair to pin it down and call it the whole of feminism. You see one woman show off her breasts and caption it ‘this is feminism’, you get some upvotes on reddit, obviously you are a master social commentator. 

It turns into a spiral, feminists reacting to society, misogynists underhandedly reacting to feminists, feminists reacting to the misogynists, then repeat. 

So why am I a feminist? For me there is no reason to limit someone’s access to success based on what is between their legs, or what they like to fantasize about. I have no fears that women are scheming in dark corners to come and bite off my dick (good luck, I keep it locked up at night). I know that women are not a cabal looking to surpass man-kind. I know that fighting against feminism hurts me as much as it hurts women.

How do I know that? I’ve met a few women in my time (no seriously, at least 5). My mom happens to be one, I had a boss once who was a non-practicing woman, a friend or two. 

I know that when women are kept out of high paying leadership positions, that is my mom being kept out of higher positions at a job she had decades of experience at, which hurt her kids (that was me, by the way). I know that when women have to fear sexual assault and harassment even in the office, that is my wonderful boss who changed my life in college. When women think they have to bow to all of man, they will have trouble standing. I know that misogynistic discrimination could hurt my girlfriend’s career, could hurt the development of my sisters’ minds, and could drive a wedge between the sexes that are never far apart otherwise. 

Look, I’ve said a lot, so let me try to explain it in one quick sentence. We should all be feminists, because we live with women, we love women (some of us more than others), and a large deal of us are women. Is that really so complicated?

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One thought on “I Can Explain That: Feminism

  1. I must confess I have a knee-jerk reaction to people who claim not to be a feminist or to stand against everything feminism stands for. It’s all I can do to restrain a sarcastic, “So, you think women shouldn’t be allowed to divorce abusive and life-threatening husbands and that little girls are entirely at fault for rape that older men forced upon them? Way to not be a jerk, jerk.” Admittedly, that response rarely garners the openness needed to have a sincere debate, but I have a hard time with people who don’t bother to research the things they object to.

    I agree with the author that these kinds of instinctive reactions (of claiming to be against feminism, mind) are based partly in ignorance of what feminism really is. Most definitions have been warped by opponents and extremists to such a degree that the populace in general would have difficulty agreeing on what principles constitute the idea aside from equal rights or man-hating, depending on who you heard it from. And patriarchy does get the general blame for all of this, but it’s not enough to change any society or system without understanding the ways that the current one is hurting both parties involved.

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