On June 10th of this year, I posted a piece called “Misogyny, Today, Is Not A Complex Issue.” I argued that although the workings of, and problems caused by, misogyny are complex, misogyny itself is a simple problem that can be eradicated with education. At the time, it seemed like a pretty easy argument to make. After all, we are all human, and anybody with the slightest bit of empathy should be able to understand there is no such thing as superiority, no “weaker” or “stronger sex” … right? Traditional ideas of what it means to be a “man” and a “woman” are outdated, and in fact have been wrong all along … right? It makes sense that male dominance has led to a patriarchal system in which women are subjugated as second-class citizens … right? Apparently not. When I sat down on June 10th and wrote about misogyny, I overlooked one important thing. Misogynistic ideals are not susceptible to easy persuasion when we point out to those who hold them just how wrong they are. These ideals are ingrained. They are part of a person’s identity, their worldview. The tenets of misogyny are not mere ideas, they are beliefs; and with those beliefs come a sense of entitlement, as well as a willful blindness to whatever harm they may cause.
In recent months, weeks, days, this issue seems to be getting worse. Perhaps I just wasn’t privy to the reports before, but it seems that women’s issues are becoming more and more urgent. As the media is being flooded with case after case after case of abuse against women, one has to wonder what the hell is happening. At a point where we seem to be making progress in every other area, why does it feel like we’re going backwards in the way we view sex and gender equality? With increasing frequency, we see rape, domestic violence, harassment in the workplace, cat-calling on the street … and after the abuse … re-victimization via victim blaming, entitled men who are offended at being called ‘pigs’ because “you should be grateful for the attention,” the increasing vitriol against Feminism, and the disturbing rise of support for the so-called “Men’s Rights Movement.” I was right when I said that misogyny is simple. Education WILL eradicate it from our society eventually. In a few generations, the idea that women are somehow ‘less than’ CAN be done away with if treated appropriately. I was wrong, however, to overlook the simplicity of the closed minds currently in the game. Simple ideas can be dealt with, but simple minds are very resistant to change.
We will soon say goodbye to the year 2014. At what point do we decide that all people deserve equal respect, value, and dignity? More than that, at what point do we begin to be honest? I believe it is dishonest to claim humanity without believing in the dignity of ALL humanity. Therefore, to hold the idea that women are weak and subservient is dishonest. To believe that a woman must be “kept in her place” is dishonest. To turn a blind eye to rape is dishonest. To deny a woman personal choice by restricting safe access to reproductive options is dishonest. To look a victim of violence in the eye and say “of course you were raped. Look at what you’re wearing,” is beyond dishonest, it is despicable.
If you are not a Feminist, it may be due to some misconceptions. Think long and hard about what you believe. Feminism is not about hating men, nor is it about superiority for women. Feminism is a reaction to misogyny. It is about the crazy notion that women have been kept down by a patriarchal system and it’s time for that system to be dismantled. Feminism is about equality, and we need it. We need Feminism because women are still being beaten to a pulp by out-of-control men who feel they have that right. We need Feminism because the number of women being raped is astronomical. We need Feminism because after that rape, the victim is told she brought it on herself. We need Feminism because a teenage girl was bullied to the point of taking her own life following a rape that was photographed and distributed through her school … her abusers will not be brought to justice. Equality for women needs a voice. I need Feminism … I need it because the women in my life have just as much right to respect and dignity as I do. I need it because when women are hurt by misogyny, I feel it. I need Feminism because, when it comes to women’s rights, it is the only honest position to take.
The ‘Men’s Rights Movement’ is fundamentally dishonest, and the same is true of positions against Feminism that cite the assumed idea that Feminists are all anti-men, anti-equality, and anti-reason. To say “I believe in equality, but I don’t believe in Feminism,” means you have been lied to about what Feminism is, or you know and you just don’t care. In the first instance you may be forgiven, although your position is still a dishonest one. In the second instance, you’re most likely a simple-minded misogynist. In any event, we need Feminism.
Equality is not a difficult concept to grasp, but we need to get through the weeds of our biases to realize how we can best work toward it. I’m asking you today to seriously consider how you feel about all of this. How do you view women? Do you see them as having specific roles in society, in family, in government, and why do you think this way? Are there differences between what a man can do and what a woman can do, and why? Do you accept that victim blaming happens as a tool of the patriarchy? Do you identify as male, female, or other, and how does that shape your view? Finally, can you honestly say that you are in favour of equality but not Feminism? Ignoring the neo-feminist revisions, categories, and dialogues, the core value we’re talking about here IS equality. It’s really not that difficult.
I need Feminism, and so do you.