Last time on Feminist Mythbusting, we busted myths such as feminists’ hatred of men, their lack of a sense of humour, and their “whining”. Of course, there are many more myths to bust, so let’s get to it!
“Women get a ton of things that men don’t! What about ladies’ nights in bars and the fact that car insurance is higher for men?”
These so-called “privileges” that women have are actually just more evidence of the whole “backfiring patriarchy” thing. Ladies’ nights usually include free entry and a free drink for women. As a result, so the logic goes, men will therefore also come to the bar, probably hoping to score with a drunk lady (also known as being a sexual predator). I’m pretty sure that doing the reverse would not result in girls flocking to the bar, because an excess of sloppy drunk dudes is nobody’s idea of a good night out. As for the car insurance, this is because men are socialized to act recklessly and rebelliously, thus resulting in higher accident rates and higher insurance.
In addition, women tend to find easier success in a select few professions, such as nursing and teaching (elementary school, of course. Not university profs. That’s for the big boys!). Again, this is another manifestation of patriarchal ideals. Women are traditionally perceived as nurturers and helpers, hence why they are generally seen as more fit for such occupations. Due to stigmas against male teachers (and the fact that it’s generally viewed as a “girly” job), men are discouraged from pursuing such a career, thus creating a shortage. With Ontario’s massive surplus of teachers (most of them female), being male will now provide an advantage over female peers, because they are a much-sought-after minority. That’s how balancing a system works.
Literally all of these “female privileges” are not privileges at all. They are merely a result of the patriarchy folding back upon itself. We absolutely understand that attaining true equality would result in losing these oh-so-coveted “privileges”. But, you know, I’d definitely be more than willing to pay cover at the bar if it means I can be at said bar without some gross guy trying to shove his hands up my skirt without invitation who then calls me a bitch if I tell him off for it, because in an equal world, rape culture will be eradicated. Sacrifices, amirite?
“A feminist was mean to me/did this horrible thing once!! All feminists are stinky scary monsters!!!1!”
First, let’s get one thing straight. Feminists (and women in general) are not controlled by one single hive-mind. There is no all-inclusive Feminist Club. “Feminist” is actually quite a broad label, and there is a lot of disagreement amongst the millions of people who call themselves “feminists”. So, one feminist being mean to you one time is not an adequate reason to denounce feminism as a whole.
Second of all, if a feminist was mean to you, did you deserve it? Did you do something to anger the feminist? Hostility in response to hostility isn’t really “being mean”, now, is it?
And lastly, we also have to remember that there are a lot of vehement anti-feminists who enjoy trolling. Such people waste their lives posing as feminists doing crazy things because “zomg feminists r all crazy!!1! They’re as bad as the Nazis!!!one!!” You may have come across these stories that went viral within the past few months; firstly, the story of a mom who sent her second-grade daughter to school with vagina-shaped cookies who flipped shit on the teacher when she refused to serve them. The alleged Crazy Feminazi™ mom apparently shamed the (female) teacher for becoming a teacher because it’s a “woman’s job” (on the grounds that she gave into the patriarchy, I guess?), and then told her that she “hopes she ends up with an abusive husband that beats on her every night”. As the Snopes link professes, their are no credible sources to support the story, as the original source is from a Reddit post; as we all know, Reddit is the be-all, end-all forum for equality. Even if this story was true, literally no feminists anywhere would agree with this lady. We’re generally trying to eradicate spousal abuse rather than promote it, even in the cases of our worst enemies. More recently, a story emerged claiming that another Crazy Feminazi™ aborted a late-term fetus upon learning that it was a male. As Snopes outlines, this story is even less likely to be true, especially considering the ridiculously sketchy original source. Furthermore, much like the vagina cookie lady, no feminist ever would agree that this was okay. Even pro-choicers (such as myself) are against aborting late-term fetuses for such an arbitrary reason; plus, abortions past a certain stage are very difficult to attain, both legally and safety-wise. In addition, we can go back to Myth #1 that I busted; feminists don’t just inherently hate all individual men for no reason.
“You think things are bad for women here? You shouldn’t be complaining, things are way worse in [insert name of Middle-Eastern country]!”
I have two main issues with this line of thinking.
Firstly, how can we honestly be judgemental of other countries, when we’re really not that much better? Let’s go for another metaphor. Say there are two families who each have a child. One child enjoys dropping plates of food on the floor of the house, smashing them. The other child gets his jollies by taking tools from his father’s toolbox and busting holes in all the walls. Of course, smashing plates on the floor is slightly less bad, since you can kind of just sweep them up and buy some new plates, rather than your house constantly looking like it just went through a shooting. But, could you really logically say that the parents of the plate-smashing kid are in a position to give parenting advice to the parents of the wall-busting kid? If you say yes, you are either lying or a moron. And, in a plot-twist, countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Iraq all have a higher percentage of women in positions of political power than Canada, and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia both rank higher than America. That’s pretty ironic, considering America is supposedly the “Land of the Free” and all, and considering how much time and money America spends on telling the Western world how horrible everyone in these places are and how much they all deserve to die. Who’s got it worse now?
Secondly, often, when people make these claims, they’re not doing it out of genuine concern for these women in other countries. They usually don’t even know much about these issues and are only going off of what they see in TV commercials, and you can bet that they certainly aren’t activists for women’s issues in developing countries. They’re trying to derail the conversation without actually debating with real counter-arguments, essentially creating a straw man situation. Discussing our issues on this side of the world does not diminish the hardships of those experienced overseas, nor does it mean that we do not care. The key to helping women in developing countries is not to assume we know what’s best for them and blindly try to do things for them; rather, it is much more helpful to listen to what they need and provide help in the way that they want it.
“How can we establish equal rights by focusing on the rights of one group?”
This is my favourite one, often spouted by a person (usually a guy, but not always) who thinks they’ve found some kind of huge plot hole in the story of feminism. You’re right, dude, you got me. You’ve defeated feminism. We can all go home now.
Since I’m all about the metaphors, let’s have another. Imagine there are two buckets of infinite volume. One has a bunch of sand in it, and the other is almost empty. Our goal is to have both buckets equally full. Now, it would be impossible to achieve this if we add an equal amount of sand to each bucket at the same rate, because that’s just how the laws of physics work (at least, as far as I know. Physics was never my strongest subject). In order for the buckets to reach equal fullness, we have to pour more sand into the emptier one. Furthermore, we can’t be taking sand from the emptier bucket and putting it in the fuller one, because that only seeks to perpetuate this horrible sand inequality that is ravaging our world (this is basically what “Men’s Rights Activists” and “Meninists” are doing).
It was once pointed out to me that this model depicts “justice” and not “equality”, and that that is apparently not what feminism is about. First of all, male engineering major who has clearly never read a single word of feminist theory in his entire life, I request that you not try to tell me what feminism is “about”. Second of all, we are never going to level the playing field by treating everyone exactly equally; instead, we strive for everyone’s final outcome to be equal (well, equal in terms of opportunity, anyway). In other words, we use justice as a means of achieving our end goal of equality. Are you annoyed about the fact that physically handicapped people get bigger bathroom stalls and closer parking spaces and special seats allotted to them in movie theatres and on public transit? Probably not, unless you’re an awful person. It’s the same concept. And no, this isn’t communism; I’m not suggesting that we take rich people’s money and give it to the poor or create identical housing for everyone or whatever communists do. I’m just talking about un-rigging our extremely rigged system. In order for everyone to have the same opportunities and quality of life, we need to give more attention to those lower down on the totem pole.
This statement is also dumb because there are sections of feminism that focus on men. There are a number of real problems that affect men as well, a few of which I outlined in Part I. We usually hear less about them because there are, you know, less issues, but they are still widely discussed in feminist circles. Again: Balance our patriarchal structure, and many of these issues will fall away.
Claiming to be an “equalist” or “humanist” presupposes that we are already all on even ground; alternately, such labels imply that naming the movement after females is somehow threatening or exclusionary to non-females. It’s not, I promise you. We need everyone’s help to topple this system that is harming us all. It’s similar to when people insist on changing the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to #AllLivesMatter. Yes, of course all lives matter, but the ones that are currently being treated like they don’t are black ones. Kindly chill out and realize this isn’t about you.
When you cut one finger, do you put a band-aid on all of them? When one kid misbehaves, are the parents supposed to ground all of their kids? When one leg has cancer, do you chop them both off? I’m hoping you answered “no” to all of these questions, or else I plead that you never become a parent of multiple children or a medical professional. The point is, we need to focus our efforts on the areas that need the most fixing. You don’t spray water on the house that isn’t burning. Maybe that house needs some new windows and a paint job or something, but the one on fire is probably the more pressing issue.
The other thing to take into account is that this whole shindig isn’t as simple as just “Men” and “Women”. There are so many other factors within those two groups to consider, so many different kinds of marginalization one can experience. We must also take into account things such as race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and able-bodied-ness, something that mainstream feminism often fails to consider (I’m looking at you, Patricia Arquette). All of these categories contribute to oppression; if you happen to be on the “wrong” side of the spectrum, and the more “undesirable” identifiers you possess, the higher the odds are stacked against you.
The fight for gender equality will likely continue for decades – maybe even centuries – to come. Society has placed men in positions of power pretty much since society first became a thing, so we can’t expect thousands of years of ingrained structure to crumble in a day. Of course, there is hope; slowly but surely, times are changing.
All in all, despite the hateful reputation feminists tend to have, I’d say that feminism has made me less hateful, if anything. I am much kinder to myself and less judgemental of those around me. It has, of course, made me hyper-aware of inequality and has made me nearly unable to enjoy movies or TV shows about white guys having problems, which, believe me, puts a big damper on my entertainment prospects. To me, though, one of the main aspects of feminism is CHOICE; the choice to present yourself however you want and do whatever you want. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, you do you. I only get angry if you’re threatening other peoples’ ability to do them. So, don’t do that, and I will be the kindest, sweetest Crazy Feminazi™ you’ve ever known, and I will bake you all the cookies you could ever eat. I promise they won’t be vagina-shaped.