On August 26, 1970, Betty Friedan and the National Organization For Women (NOW) created a nationwide Women’s Strike for Equality. Fifty years after gaining the right to vote, women had yet to be given equal opportunities in employment and education, to name a few. Many of these inequalities, unfortunately, still exist to this day.
August 26th was National Women’s Equality Day and I saw a lot of articles and videos popping up about women’s rights. Along with each of these posts, I saw many comments (from both men and women) about their dislike for the entitlement and “man-bashing” that seemed to go along with the promoting of women.
While women’s equality day doesn’t actually use the word feminism, it still seems to bring about unfavorable feelings. As I’ve become a woman and began to be interested in human rights, which include women’s, I have encountered many different views and opinions on feminism. As soon as the word comes up in discussion, a Facebook post, or a celebrity or political spokesperson uses it, immediate backlash accompanies the support of the movement.
I have never labeled myself a feminist or used the word to describe myself in conversation or social media. I have strayed away from using that word because I don’t think it’s the most accurate for how I feel about women’s rights.
There is a history of women using feminism to do more harm than good, and there is no shortage of women who publicly put down men in order to raise themselves. I support and stand behind any campaign that seeks to bring equality for everyone – men, children, minorities, those associating with a different gender or sexual preference, immigrants, and, yes, even women. However, I don’t like the word feminism because it is commonly used to promote women with little regard to others, mainly men. I want women, myself included, to be treated just as well as the average white, rich male is treated. However, I don’t want to make men any less appreciated or respected, nor do I think it is helpful to diminish the rights of men to try and gain rights for women.
I’m all for stepping on toes, making a ruckus, making people uncomfortable and standing the “norm” on its head. I disagree that women should only be gentle, sweet, and understanding without being able to be strong, sarcastic, and smart.
In a classroom this week at my college campus, we had a discussion that turned into how great feminism is. The men in the room either didn’t speak up at all, or seemed to go over the top by saying how supportive they were for feminism, perhaps trying to please the women in the room.
I had a discussion with a male co-worker at one of my campus jobs this week where he made a somewhat sexist joke and then quickly followed it by saying “I don’t mean that seriously.” (We could get into a whole “sexist jokes” conversation, but I’ll leave that for another day.) He then quickly added that he is a feminism and continued to mumble on, uncomfortably, until I jumped in to save him from his awkwardness and said “I don’t take offense at just a joke,” which calmed him down. We then had an interesting conversation where I mentioned that, while supporting women’s equality, I in no means want to stomp all over men. He responded appreciatively, saying he feels like has to always agree with women 100% or he’ll be called anti-feminist or be attacked by hateful comments.
My wondering, to women who call themselves feminists, and to those who don’t, is what do we gain by promoting ourselves only at the detriment to men? I want men to support our fight for equal wages, a strong political voice, and to be seen as strong and capable. I don’t believe that men will support or stand with us if the only way we make progress in those areas is to slay every man in our path.
Shouldn’t equality, of every kind, be fought for together?