Feminism is NOT a Dirty Word

This is in response to a post I read a few days ago, that I saw after the women’s marches. The post that has been circulating is one that makes a few alarming claims:

  1. Men and women are not meant to be and cannot be equal
  2. Feminism sets a bit of a double standard
  3. American women are best-off and should be happy with this progress instead of complaining about the lack of progress

Men and women are not meant to be and cannot be equal

Okay, no, women and men are not physically built the same. Men do have more muscle, while women have more body fat. Men mentally develop slower than women do. Men cannot birth children while women can. Yes, all that is true, and if we define equality as being exactly the same, then no, men and women cannot be equal. But, this isn’t the definition of equality that feminists, or most people, use when talking about equality. Equality means equal opportunity, equal respect, equal treatment. It means that just because men are stronger, it doesn’t mean that only men can play in the NFL or serve on the military’s front lines. Men can be strong, but so can women. Women deserve the chance to prove their strength just as men are given that chance. Equality means that men are not the only ones who can change a tire or fix a leak and women are not the only ones who can take care of children or keep up a house. Equality means that while men and women are built differently, they are not viewed or treated differently. Equality means that the stereotypes that divide us, the traditional roles that define us, are permeable, shared, and equal.

Feminism sets a bit of a double standard 

This is one of my favorites. The argument goes

‘women get mad when a man isn’t a gentleman by holding a door open, or paying for a meal, but women also get mad when a man tries to be a gentleman, taking that gesture as one that undermines women’s strength and independence.’

So, feminists set this double standard of a man being damned if he’s chivalrous, and damned is he’s an uncultured  swine. Well, the issue with this argument is that the women who are often complaining about the decline of chivalry in our community are not the same women who lead with the mantra of “I can do it myself”, but they are often portrayed as being the same women. It isn’t necessarily feminists that set this double standard, it’s those who don’t understand feminists who set it for us.

American women are best-off and should be happy with this progress instead of complaining about the lack of progress 

First, this is completely false. While our country often tries to portray itself as progressively marching towards equality, history clearly paints another picture. Women have been fighting for equal rights since the 1800s and are fighting this same battle today. Yes, women are allowed entry into the same jobs that men have, but women are still being paid less than men for working these same jobs. Women have proved their ability to handle demanding, outside jobs such as being carpenters, construction workers, and professionals, but are still expected to be the primary housekeepers and do a majority of the child rearing. There is still noticeable gaps between men and women, gaps that other countries have filled years ago. American women in 2017 may be better off than American women in 1858, but we are far from being best-off when compared to other women around the country. Second, if women were just happy with the progress that’s been made, how could we ever achieve equality? We can’t. The reason we have the rights we do now is because some women somewhere in history were not satisfied with being treated like second class citizens and they complained. They could have easily been content with the progress made before them, but where would that leave us? Becoming content with being less than will leave us less than. Yes, women have come a long way, but unless we continue that progress, all the years of struggle and sacrifice will be for nothing. And lastly, we are not complaining about the lack of progress. We are fighting for progress to continue. We are making sure that our voices are heard. Our issues are taken seriously. We are not complaining about the lack of progress, we acknowledge where we have come from and recognize where we still need to go. Marching forward does not mean we are unappreciative of what we have, it means we will not settle for less.

So, for all of those who are so over feminists, think about the rights you have. Your right to a college education in the field of your choice. Your right to vote. Your right to work as more than a secretary or a receptionist. And instead of shaking your head at feminists, thank them. Without them, you wouldn’t have these rights. If you don’t believe women are meant to be equal to men, okay. If you believe in the traditional gender roles, okay. If you believe in chivalry, okay. But, don’t believe that the opportunities you have today would still exist without the sacrifice and the struggle of women who believed that men and women should be equal and wouldn’t stop complaining until equality was achieved.

 

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