Thoughts on Equality and Acceptance

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THE OLD “F” WORD

The term Feminism has been turned into a dirty word in America. It conjures images for many people of burning bras and offensive lesbian stereotypes. Lots of men feel an instant reaction to the term, one of the overbearing, militant women trying to take away their good times and golf matches. A popularized view is that feminism stands not for equality between sexes but for taking away of the rights of men and gaining special privileges for women. These stereotypes have always existed in our culture about women. It is a convenient way to dismiss those that try to assert their right to be treated as equals. But because of this demonization Feminism cannot be brought up. It is dismissed as radical and wrong.

Feminism is a huge social movement with sometimes stark internal differences of opinion and practice. At its most basic level though, Feminism is just the simple idea that women should be treated equally to men. This idea of equality states there should not only be equality under the law but in the economy, in society, and in the interactions that take place between men and women every day. It means an end to the double standards we set towards women in regard to sexuality, that women who are promiscuous are “sluts” but of course boys will be boys. An end to the horrifying notion that there are “blurred lines” of consent. An end to the idea that date rape is not as bad as any other kind. An end to a “rape culture” (the normalization of sexual violence against women) that says that blame for an attack is to be shared with the victim. An end to employment and wage discrimination. And perhaps, above all, an end to daily expectations of submissiveness and harassments.

To be clear, women are not powerless by any means and fight harassment and discrimination in their own lives all the time. Women have also made great strides towards ending many of the social and economic constraints they face (just watch an episode of Mad Men and you’ll see what I mean). But a great many of those institutional and social barriers are still there and make fighting all by one’s self difficult.

Many of my brothers may say to me “but Zach I see no discrimination or harassment happening all that often. What on earth are you talking about?” A very large part of that is frankly due to the fact that you are a man. It is because these issues don’t directly affect you it is easy to turn them off in your head, to simply not notice them. It is something you don’t have to think about, so you don’t. I’m no different than any other man, it is easy to simply turn it all off. But the best way to really discover that these things actually exist is by listening to what your sisters have to say, after that, noticing what goes on is much easier.

The fact that feminism, the word and the movement, has been demonized has real world effects. It prevents groups that identify as feminist having influence in policy making, they are dismissed as radical man- haters. When the word feminism is demonized many of the things it stands for get pushed to the wayside as well. When in everyday conversation a woman tries to assert herself she can just be dismissed as a feminist and her opinion disregarded.

To my brothers who think “even if this horrible stuff is happening to women, this doesn’t affect me, so why should I care?” women aren’t just “others”, they are your sisters, mothers, friends, and eventually your wives and daughters. They deserve your respect because they are people dear to you. Above all they are your fellow human beings. I know that there are also many women who think that feminism isn’t for them either. Sisters, if you think that it’s acceptable that you will make 75¢ on the dollar to a man even for doing equal work, then reject feminism. If you believe that a rape being committed in the U.S. once every 152 seconds is okay, reject feminism. If you believe that a society that sets different standards for you than men, reject feminism.

So, if you are male and don’t like half of the population getting treated unfairly fight for feminism. If you are a female and think that you deserve the same rights that men have then for yourself and all of your sisters, please, fight for feminism.

Zach Rioux, Guest Writer