Note on: Feminism

Feminism is defined as "advocating all rights of women to be equal to those of men".

When I was younger I didn't really think that was the case. Mainly because I didn't know the true meaning nor was it really discussed amongst children. TV shows, films and historical icons also held negative connations on the overall subject of feminism. From what I was exposed to, I just imagined a feminist to be a woman who hated men and that really was the stereotype that came with it. I saw them as unreasonable and stubborn and didn't really understand why someone could have such strong views against men.

Studying history at school, I learnt about a strong lady named Boudica. She fought against the Romans who wanted to rule Iceni (East Anglia) once her husband had died. To do so they stripped and flogged Boudica as well as raped her daughters. But when I was taught about her at school, I was painted a picture of a savage woman, who hated men and killed thousands of innocent people to get what she wanted so that she could rule. Evidently I just assumed a feminist was somewhat bitter and irrational because of that.

As I grew up and learned more along the way, not only through history and other forms of academia but also through speaking to people and reading various forms of media, I think I finally understood the passions behind a true feminist and it was so simple; feminists wanted and still want to have the same opportunities and the same treatment that men do. We just want gender equality. It's as simple as that and yet to this day we still have both men and women rolling their eyes at the topic and that needs to change. 

Inevitably there will be some extremists who put men down, have radical views and are destructive when putting their views across. There are also those who are ignorant to the subject and will just assume that feminists are those who just moan about wanting equality, belittling the movement as a result. For example, Kayley Cuoco-Sweeting was interviewed and asked whether she thought herself to be one. She responded with 'Is it bad if I say no? It's not really something I think about. I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around but I was never that feminist girl demanding equality but that's because I've never really faced inequality. I cook for my husband 5 nights a week and it makes me feel like a housewife. I love that. I know it sounds old fashioned but I like the idea of women taking care of their men. I'm so in control of my work that I like coming home and serving him. My Mom was like that so I think it's kind of rubbed off.'

She fails to realise that feminists do not want her to be ashamed of the fact that she likes to cook and take care of her husband. There's nothing wrong in wanting to please those you love, especially when it makes you and those around you happy. It is evident that she does not know what a feminist is and so limits herself in knowing that they only want everyone, including women, to be able to make decisions and do whatever they want, freely. However, from what Kayley has said in the interview, it explores the idea that she does not realise that she's free to make such decisions, be who she wants to be and have a career, all because of feminism. Her words in the interview reflect the opinions of those who think that being a feminist means being a man hating human and that is definitely not what the movement is all about. Kayley does not have to be a role model but she fails to realise that she has a responsibility when being in the public eye, especially when there are young girls who look up to her and listen to what she has to say. She has since retracted her statement but I really do think it is important that public figures, such as herself educate themselves on topics such as feminism before answering questions they don't really understand.

There's a book on feminism that makes the point that boys are raised in such a way that they feel distinct and different from their raising figures in a way that girl's aren't. For the first few years of their life, boys are physically and emotionally dependent on their mothers but have to draw away from such emotions as they develop masculine traits. They're taught their emotions and feelings are to be suppressed through fear of being blackballed from their peers and society. Typically, fathers don't guide sons in the same way mothers guide daughters due to this emotional disconnect. Most fathers are either emotionally or physically absent compared to a mother in the child's development phase, this means the boy, unlike the girl, have no real mentor in what it means to be a man. This in turn apparently leads to men being just as likely to suffer from mental problems as women but they lack the skill set to deal with such problems and are more scared of admitting they have a problem as mental illness is considered to be the direct opposite of the controlled, emotionless, strong masculine archetype that most men strive to be or at least assume they must aspire to be more like.

At the moment there's such emphasis on women being accepted into the 'male' world and none on men being accepted in the 'female' world. There should be more discussion about it, but so many feminists have decided men are the enemy and they somehow systematically keep women in their traditional roles. Mentioning that men might have just as hard a time dealing with their identity problems as women are seen to be trivialising the plight of women and therefore the movement as well.

Many men would be more comfortable being a househusband than working in a work environment just as much as many women are more comfortable working than looking after their home. There's been more of a push to get women into the workplace than on accepting men who want to be househusbands. In general, most pro feminist sentiment tries to make the entire human race more masculine thus leading to a sad loss in feminity in both genders.

I think the true movement in feminism is to abolish such archetype and allow for both qualities to exist within both genders.

There are men all over the world who are also feminists and believe in such basic human right, including powerful men in society. Obama once said 'lifting women up, lifts up our economy and lifts up our country. We've got to make sure that somebody is standing up for them'. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon stated 'violence against women and girls is a global problem; it harms women, families, communities and societies. We can only stop it by working together, women and men.'

Feminism has so much that can be explored and I look forward to writing and publishing more of my opinions on the topic in future posts.

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