HERE’s a shocker: I am a feminist but I won’t ever label myself as one. Why? The reason is quite simple in fact. There is no antonym for racist (tolerance is not only based on race), besides the antonym for homophobic, that is homophilia, remains quite unknown. On the other hand, I believe that the antonym for racist is humane, the antonym for homophobic is humane, the antonym for sexist is humane too. Thus, I will keep on fighting for gender equality, for feminism, although I will never call myself a feminist. And I believe that each and every decent human being should be a feminist. It is a shame that in 2016, people still claim that they are not concerned by feminism ; as humans they shall be.
Once gender equality is fully acquired, we will still need feminism. Listing the reasons « why we still need feminism in 2016 » is understandable, yet the phrasing may be incorrect. Indeed, when all inequalities between genders are neutralized, we will still need people to believe that there should be no gaps between the sexes and who will act accordingly to this belief without ever questioning themselves.
Whether it be at a small scale or at a wider scale, we all need feminism. We all have witnessed once in our lifetime a sexist act, from part of a man or woman alike. Being catcalled on the streets for showing off too much skin, being slut-shamed, being told how to act accordingly to a man’s behavioral patterns are only a few examples. Feminism is not a curse word. Feminism is believing that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of their gender. So why do some people refrain themselves from this basic principle by introducing their statements by saying:
« I am no feminist but… »?
Why would do some be more entitled to relate to such concerns than others? My question to these people ever voicing these words is the following: why don’t you believe that men and women should be treated as equals? Indeed, you may think that feminism is a dirty word that entails going to war against masculinity but you’re wrong. By saying these words, you are explicitly characterizing yourself as someone who doesn’t believe in gender equality. It is that simple.
At a global scale, the most severe issues that women face are trafficking, violence, repression and enforced ignorance. In the western world, progress has been significant, nonetheless, despite that, complete equality between the sexes has not yet been reached today. Far-right parties still stand in 2016 for hundred-year-old views. For instance, in France, the National Front keeps holding demonstrations against abortion , which was yet authorized in the country since the Veil Law in 1975. Besides, the pay gap remains at a high rate. Furthermore, the rate of men charged with rape that are convicted is lower than the cases which actually go to court. These issues are to be thoroughly discussed (You can read the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2015 here.)
A CASE OF CASUAL SEXISM
At a smaller scale, feminism is as needed. Let’s take one uncomplicated example: Steve Harvey’s talk-show which airs on NBC in which he helps people deal with their problems by giving them his seemingly insightful opinion, among which are dating. In a segment entitled ‘Women Understanding Men’, the host dwells on men’s reaction in accordance with women’s actions so that the latter ones have a better understanding of a man’s expectations. Although Harvey seems to be deeply encouraging of female empowerment, his reasoning does not seem to go fully in that direction. Let’s analyze one specific sequence of his show. The video down below entitled What Men Really Think of Sexy Pics left me in awe.
What Steve Harvey basically says is that women should not act this particular way, as they want if they are willing to get in a relationship. What this respectable man is emphasizing is that women that take « sexy pictures » are unrespectable, discreditable to the title of ‘good wife’ and indecent. Of course, we all have our own perception of good morals but the line between being principled and being openly judgmental is markedly thin.
This point does not only regard feminist issues, it is a much deeper problem that may lie in the fact that our society is very quick to judge and put labels on people. Whether women wear skirts or pose in bikinis, the fact that they decide to expose themselves is considered unladylike and scandalous, making them somewhat less worthy than others. Yet, behind Harvey’s apparent friendly attitude lies a profoundly retrograde way of thinking that women should be sensitive to men’s behavioral patterns and attitude before moving any step further.
No more selfies, they make you narcissistic! No more makeup, it makes you a fake person! No more anything, just live according to everyone else’s perception of good morals and stop being you! This may sound amplified, but in fact it is where such behavior leads.
Women should not act according to what men think of them, as men should not act according to what women think of them.
Nowadays, the prejudices concerning appearance are higher towards women than men. Those clichés are fortunately less damaging than other forms of sexism, but the point of that case study was to prove that we all witness sexism in our everyday life which shows that gender inequality remains high but fortunately we all have the ability change it.
Feminism is not a way of taking action, it’s a way of thinking. Feminism isn’t holding demonstrations and blaming men, or being part of a specific movement. Feminism is merely believing that all men and women were created equal and that any negligent treatment based on gender, as much as based on race or sexual orientation, is discriminatory and invalid.
How would you define feminism yourself? Let me know your thoughts!