It’s not a dirty word.

(This is how I felt tonight)

Tonight, I attended a “Gentleman’s Panel” in the lobby of my dorm building. The pretense? Three men, behind a screen, would answer questions anonymously about anything- sex, politics, dating, personalities, etc. Multiple questions regarding physical appearances, preferences for physical appearance, and how they prefer women were asked by the girls in my hall.

I asked the question: “Are you a feminist?”

I didn’t know what to expect. Some small part of me hoped that they’d realize that feminism is essentially equality, and that they’d answer yes.

The three answers were as follows (spoiler: none of them were “yes”!):

First guy: No. Right off the bat, no qualms about it.

Second guy: Not really? If feminism is man-hating and anti-male, no.

Third: Sort of? But not really? Confused?

I was honestly horrified. I was also saddened. Clearly, my campus thinks that feminism is a dirty word, or that it’s entirely all about hating men. They were really unsure of what it is, and they also had some negative ideas about women in general.

Here’s a quote from tonight:

“There is always a hidden motive behind everything”, regarding what women say and do.

Then, their biggest problems with relationships were “communication” and “trust”. The two are definitely related if men think that women are constantly full of these ulterior motives with everything they say and do. The correlation is pretty clear to me. If I say I really like taking walks through a park, it means I like walking through the park. If my boyfriend says that he likes ice cream, I’m assuming that means that he enjoys ice cream.  It goes both ways. (Note: this boyfriend is hypothetical. Although I would enjoy a boyfriend who does like ice cream.)

FEMINISM = EQUALITY.

It is not about hating men, being better than men, feeling superior, etc. Feminism is not about taking away masculinity, it’s about creating a world where parity is possible.

Feminism is about equality in voting, representation, reproductive rights, law, etc.- total equality. It’s about breaking gender roles and stereotypes.

It is not a a dirty word. 

I’m not sure what needs to happen here on my campus, but clearly there needs to be some de-mystifying as to what feminism actually is. It’s clearly seen as a noxious, tainted word that carries all sorts of threatening ideas, when in reality, it shouldn’t be threatening at all. I am not personally attacking these young men, but rather frustrated at the lack of clarity as to what feminism is in general here at Montana State University, for both men and women.

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4 thoughts on “It’s not a dirty word.

  1. “Then, their biggest problems with relationships were “communication” and “trust”. The two are definitely related if men think that women are constantly full of these ulterior motives with everything they say and do.”

    When you get into a relationship you see it like this.

    In reality, it’s actually like this a lot of the time.

    A lot of western women I’ve met test men, even men in relationships. She insults you to see how you react. TV has been really bad for women. It teaches you that insulting men is good and healthy for a relationship. Ulterior motives are really common.

    The only real way to counter it is with banter.

    “It is not about hating men, being better than men, feeling superior, etc. Feminism is not about taking away masculinity, it’s about creating a world where parity is possible.”

    And it’s about smashing the patriarchy, which includes quite a few men.

    It’s not about all those things for you at least. But in the spirit of things, you as a feminist, you perhaps as a member of feminist organisations, could you say anything feminists have done (actually done in real life) that helps men directly? If feminism is about equality, it should address some male problems at some time. Like ensuring that males and females have equal parenthood rights.

    • Your comment bases itself on grand assumptions and further stereotypes of “Western women” and women in general that are simply not applicable to most situations. In addition, your comment seems very ill-informed and offensive.

      Women insult men just to see how their partners react? I find that to be a grandiose idea with nothing to back it up.

      Television as the catalyst for “man hating” simply doesn’t make sense. Television in fact has been used as a tool, along with media and advertising, for re-enforcing gender stereotypes and ideas of what women should be and should do ever since it’s invention.

      Please educate yourself on the patriarchy, about the benefits of feminism, and on stereotypes of women, which you use heavily here, before creating these grand ideas and commenting further.

      Danke/Gracias/Grazie/Bedankt/Merci/Thanks

  2. I think your article is right on. People are so afraid of feminism, so many women I know are afraid to be identified with the label. And this has be going on for a while.

    I remember in 2000 a teacher at my college in Montreal (which is a relatively progressive city) asked a class of 40 students who there considered themselves a feminist. Out of the 40 students, 3 put up their hands (including me). 3! I was flabbergasted. So was the teacher. Throughout his 30 years of teaching this class, he had asked this question to every new class. He had found that every year the number of people confident enough to out up their hands got smaller. It was sad, really.

    Your response to thesecond’s question “What benefits has feminism brought to men?” was right on. Feminism led to a greater equality among the sexes. Which meant half of the population was encouraged to complete their education, take on new challenges and become active contributors to society in ways they previously hadn’t. Taping into this “other half” has in essence doubled the potential of western society.

    When you look at some of the worlds problems (environment, over-population) you can see that the countries most willing and capable to work on solving these issues tend to be those with the highest level of overall education, the smallest income disparity among classes and, very importantly, wide-ranging & institutionalized equality between the sexes.

    The opposite is also true.

    This is no coincidence.

    If we as a species want to solve the major problems in the world we need all people to contribute ideas and time. Empowering women and girls to reach their potential is beneficial to all members of the society.

    • Oh my goodness, thank you so much!
      Feminism is about empowerment of every gender and sex, and it’s about equality also.
      It’s saddening the stereotypes that stick with it, and it’s really detrimental to progress for women and men in many ways!

      It’s very true that the countries that have opened up their government and society to women in all ways are the most stable and successful. The data does not lie here!

      I appreciate your comment- your personal experience sounds so familiar to the situation here, saddening but true.

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