Feminism | Posted by Maren H on 05/3/2010
How Feminism Helps Everyone (Not Just The Women)
Feminism has changed and evolved throughout history; so has public regard towards it. From the suffragettes to the reproductive revolutionists, all feminists, though separated into many facets all have one superior goal; to empower, to ensure well-being, health and good quality of life of women all over the world.
Today, Feminists are often seen as the enemy to men, determined to deflate the power of the phallus and kick men off the throne and into oppression with our Birkenstocks and unshaven legs. There are countless thoughts on what feminism is and what we do. There are certainly women calling themselves feminists who believe that women should be elevated to a higher social level than men, however; this is hardly the case with the majority of feminists.
The view of feminists as the enemy is becoming so prolific, that many women and men refuse to identify as such, because of the stigma attached to the word, The subconscious of our culture automatically associates “feminist” with “man-hating.” This association, while understandable, is almost entirely false. Mainstream society has the tendency to be blinded by fear (in this case. of change) that we are unable to see that while feminism was freeing women from patriarchal oppression, men were being freed as well. Disagree with me if you must, but the gender binary put in place by patriarchy isn’t good for anybody. Here is how feminism has freed men from patriarchal oppression:
Much as women were required by society to fulfill certain roles, men were as well. Men were expected to work a dignified job to earn money for their families, they were expected to go to war and fight and possibly die for their country. While many women may have yearned for those opportunities, I’m certain many men yearned for the opposite.
The definition of manly was forced on many men just as the definition of ladylike was forced on women. Men were expected to be strong and silent, the common scolding of “boys don’t cry” can be just as damaging as “girls are weak”
Feminism has helped blur the lines between the masculine and the feminine, allowing men to have feminine qualities, and furthering fluidity of identity. While there are many men who identify with the “manly man” prototype, there are many men who don’t. Masculinity now doesn’t require a penis and femininity doesn’t require breasts and a womb.
It’s incredibly damaging to mash people into a binary; abolishing this helps men just as much as it helps women.
Thinking of feminism within the context of eliminating the gender binary opens up a whole new set of solutions to feminist problems. For example, the professional math world is overwhelmingly male dominated. Instead of ensuring that 50% of people hired in mathematics are women, we can instead work to eliminate the prejudice that women are inferior at math than men that starts as early as elementary school. It is more important to judge a person’s skills by a person-to-person basis. Gender should not be a factor when hiring for a job in any field. Equality means equal opportunity, not monotony.
I am certain that there will be many many women and girls on this site who violently disagree with me, and this is just an example of how no people can be mashed into a mold, not even feminists. My opinions on feminism may not be the same as another’s, however; in order for the gender binary and patriarchy to finally be abolished for the good of all humankind; feminism, in my humble opinion needs to stop being viewed as women vs. men, and start being viewed as people vs. oppression. This won’t happen until people consciously eliminate the man-hating stereotype, as well as all other gender-based stereotypes from their consciousness.
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