I have always thought that feminism was the belief that no matter the gender, people should be treated equally. I believe that most people, even those who disagree, think that this is at least part of what feminism is. In this regard, I have considered myself a feminist for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my main feminist focus was proving to those around me that women were or could be just as capable as men at everything. This is not the most important aspect for me anymore, but at the time is caused quite a stir, surprisingly, to those around me. I have heard and experienced every stereotype imaginable. My father told me at a young, confused age that I had â€śpenis envyâ€?. Iâ€™ve never wanted a penis! Iâ€™ve been called a man-hater and a lesbian despite the fact that most of the people who have said this are â€śfriendsâ€? who are well aware that I have a boyfriend and countless male friends. This has driven me to really attempt to understand why friends and acquaintances use such illogical labels attributed to feminists and feminism. There are numerous ideas that I have come up with.
One idea is quite simple or basic. Calling the movements and theories for gender equality â€śfeminismâ€? does not incorporate all that it is about. If the general population understood that feminists are not out just for womenâ€™s rights but for social change for the betterment of both genders maybe men and women would feel less threatened. In my experience, most confused people have misunderstood this terribly. I attempt to explain that feminists are not anti-men though they have definitely appeared this way at times-- â€śAnother groupsâ€™ policies was that it be staffed by women only,â€? (Suffragist City, p.60) Men are not the sole problem. In fact, itâ€™s pretty obvious that women alone have accomplished a lot throughout the centuries, but the fundamental societal and cultural changes wonâ€™t occur without a larger supporting amount of male feminists. Women are culprits as well. I myself hold unconscious sexist stereotypes. Our society has ingrained such behavior and ideas on gender, and both sexes play an equal role in that. When explained this way, people seem to attribute these ideas to me as opposed to feminism in general which I attempt to debunk as well.
This brings me to the belief that all feminist have the same ideas. If people knew that feminists do not agree on everything, and that each individual brings different life experiences, ideas, and prejudices to the movement maybe people would be more willing to join and attempt to incorporate their beliefs into it as well. It is difficult to feel accepting of something when people hear one feministâ€™s narrow view of how things should be, including my own, and think that that is what feminism is PERIOD. Sara Evans in â€śTidal Wavesâ€? explains that â€śthe differences among feminists are so deep that some regularly challenge othersâ€™ credentials as feministsâ€? (p. 3). I do not see this as a problem. Yes, feminists need to organize in order to make change, but their can be many different organizations with different roles that incorporate larger numbers of accepted people who have much to offer. As long as the main goal is for gender equality, change will occur.
Of course there are many more reasons for all of the backlash, stereotypes, and prejudices. This is a very complex problem that we can hopefully delve into further in the course because I have gone slightly over the words allowed.