I’m sure we’re all aware of the new anti-feminism movement, a line of thought among usually young women and powerful, successful older women which sporadically captures the mainstream press, the internet and the interest of both men and women. It goes without saying that come each generation they benefit from the trials and tribulations of the last and of course the wish to see a better tomorrow for those younger and yet to come is a key element of the feminist movement.
One of the first and continuing social media forays of such a concept to come to the world’s attention was the Women Against Feminism (http://womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com/) photo-post trend. It features mainly young women holding signs saying “I don’t need feminism…” followed by a number of reasons- reasons which may seem a thing of the past for most women due to feminism. It’s ironic. One common caption is “I don’t need feminism because I am not a victim”. Well feminism is not about victimhood it’s about empowerment and if you’re a young woman and are being told that you’re empowered enough and that it’s as good as it’s going to get then you’re probably being lied to by somebody living in a state of delusion.
But you know, like any good social worker ideally a social rights campaigner such as a feminist would like to work themselves out of a job or cause, however feminism still has far to come in what it can be successful in addressing and changing.
Margaret Thatcher was seen as a non-feminist but people fail to place her upbringing in the context of which it was. She came into womanhood in a time before feminism or even before the notion of women being equally successful as men was a thought within let alone throughout society. Instead she was a determined and driven woman, who didn’t need feminism to get to where she did because like with most trail-blazers they are before their time, before such issues are acknowledged for people to become organised in addressing them. However were she to have come of age after feminism took shape and became organised I’ve no doubt she would have found solace in the cause.
Australia’s current, and female, Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop, recently and famously stated that she is “no feminist” (http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/im-no-feminist-julie-bishop-20141029-11dn7m.html)- a stance no doubt taken due to her political differences yet professional similarities to Julia Gillard. Like the much emulated Thatcher, Bishop had a drive and determination which saw her be her own agent if you will, in head-stronging her own success.
So given all of that, do young women still need feminism? Do women in general still need a sister-hood to make it far in life? Well the idea that they don’t is a successful product or outcome of feminism as feminism is about choice. The choice to be a stay at home Mum and the choice to go out into the corporate or political world and all the choices in between that were/are women’s to make are all celebrated by feminism. The choice for young women to turn their backs on feminism is as much a privilege resulting directly from feminism as it is a product of patriarchal intimidation. So the female sex is at a point where they decide to identify with feminism or not to. It’s a personal matter at the end of the day but with so many hurdles to overcome, wanting or identifying with or against feminism doesn’t change the fact that there is still a need for it.
And why is a young male writing about the importance of feminism to a forum of mostly women? I found this blog site, Feminaust, and it is one of the few sites which celebrate women and their ideas among the myriad of other sites which opt to celebrate young women’s bodies and how far they’ll go to please a man- or men. So I decided to submit this piece here for you all, where it would count. As for a male writing about feminism, well the idea in men’s heads that feminism is women’s business I believe is the constant road-block to feminism being truly successful.
What’s two things critics of, maybe not feminism as a movement, but of some feminists [as individuals] say? The men say that they can be too angry and the women say that they are too judgemental. Perhaps this can be true, as I’ve not met every single self-identifying feminist in the world. However in rebuttal of the angry feminist theory I would simply say these two things: first is that men in general prefer women to be quiet and to be agreeable, and secondly, that angry feminists and feminists in general may well be justified in their anger- after all there’s still much to be angry about (such as unequal entry level and CEO level pay between women and men for doing the same job, the catastrophic rates of domestic violence and violence against women in Australia, the way women are presented in mainstream pop culture and pornography and the continual sexualisation of young girls and enforced gender roles of women in the home…the list goes on…). As for those judgemental feminists I would say that the judgement factor has nothing to do with feminism at all. It’s the practice of that person. If one’s a feminist they don’t cease being the other things that make them, and in some cases that means being a judgemental person as well. Taking into account all the non-judgemental feminists one can clearly see that feminism itself as a theory, a philosophy, does not include judging other women.
There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to do away with feminism because there is still every reason thinkable to keep it. But please don’t interpret this as a male telling females what to do, I’m just telling you from a male’s perspective that this world is not yet a truly fair and equal one, it’s getting there, but it’s not quite.
Being a feminist-apologist does nobody any favours except reinforce the sleepless mentality that feminism is bad and unhelpful to women (when all it is unhelpful to the patriarchal foundations of what’s wrong in this world). Feminist-apologists may think they’re taking on new vogue strength and we all know from music & art that the new generation always feels compelled to counter the old, but in fact they are disarming themselves and turning their backs on their sisters and even their brothers who support them.
Jack is an artist and political affairs commentator from Far North Queensland.