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Modern Feminism: Fixing the Destruction of The Women's Movement Part I
I remember how I began to adore one of my (still) favorite professors. It was when I was in my first English class with her, and she began talking about feminism in literature. I don't recall the specific work we were discussing, but it was refreshing to see another woman talking positively about feminism, and she included how men are impacted as well. Then, after taking sociology, I fell in love with it (sociology). I loved when our classes would talk about gender issues. I loved hearing things from all of my classmates, regardless of their gender, race, etc.
Toward the end of my college education, I took some classes specifically about women and feminism. In these classes, I realized there were men fighting with my professor about any issues involving negative male behavior. This professor of mine had been my professor for both of my later women and gender classes ("Women in Society" and "Social Feminist Thought"), and is another favorite of my past professors because she is open to hearing all kinds of opinions. Also, she is able to open others to her opinions in a civilized way. She loves to encourage questioning, even if it is of her own point of view. That is what I love about sociology, and what I love about feminism. It welcomes endless theories because each voice is vital to its success. Feminism is about equality of gender, race, class, etc.
What Happened to Feminism?
If my studies taught me that feminism is about fighting inequality, and including more members to share their voices to add to what needs to change to make a more equal society then how could anyone hate it? Online, I have read words like "feminazi," and assumed those people were completely misunderstanding what feminism is or perhaps the person who told them about feminism had explained it poorly. Now that I am a college graduate who minored in gender and sexuality, in part due to my love of feminism, I have realized the majority of women calling themselves "feminist" today are not actually feminists. They are "man-hating" groups. They twist the theories about gender inequality into a message that all men, no matter their opinion on (real) gender issues or their other social categories, are evil. I watch videos of women "feminists" screaming at random men they do not know. Their words are even difficult to hear properly because they are screaming so irrationally. Basically, today's feminists have taken the stereotype that "feminists are just crazy angry irrational beings" and have become exactly that!
The Importance of Theory
When analyzing theories one should add their own thoughts, and ask questions. Most theorists have one-sided ideas because of their limited experience. Each theory will have flaws because it comes from a biased source. This is why the white women's feminism is different than the black women's feminism and so on. If we take each theory exactly as it is expressed we are never going to make progress. Thankfully, there are theorists, today, who encourage questioning the importance of the other categories people are defined by. Now, we no longer define feminism as "the white house wives' struggle." That would be insane! Now, theorists include other perspectives, including men!
Judith Butler does not have an anti-male outlook; instead, she sees society as a result of gendered expectations. Many of her books include queer theory because she does not follow the gender binary. She acknowledges the oppression of both men and women, and the different ways in which this happens. She has even been policed for not following feminine presentation, and feels that is just as bad as the murder of a man who was killed for not following masculine performance. She promotes the belief that we choose our gender rather than being born as it through sexual organs and hormones.
By saying gender is performative, the power is back in the individual's hands. We are able to choose how we express our gender rather than expressing it in a way that makes others accept us. Our physical bodies do not decide our gender identity, and this goes for men and women, equally. This allows men to be feminine and women to be masculine.
bell hooks (she keeps her name in lower-case) loves to bring attention to the many categories that go into how each person is assessed by patriarchy. Gender is not the only deciding factor in patriarchy; therefore, just by being a man does not mean a lack of oppression. She believes feminists need to look at each feminist argument from the point of view of everything: race, age, class, and so on. Her preference to use "white supremacy" rather than "racism" is to highlight the race on race problems affecting the world. By this, she is not singling out white men as the enemy. Rather, she is bringing our attention to how all of these other categories impact everyone.
When students study sociology, they learn that it is not just white men against women. The most powerful status for someone to be is white, male, heterosexual, wealthy, and protestant. As soon as there is a deviation, the status goes down a notch. If this is how it works then why would anyone believe feminists are merely angry irrational women out to destroy all men? It is because these abusive women are not feminist. They are a hate group. Feminists do not attempt to destroy other people through their activism. They use their activism to help others question what they may be taking for granted. In fact, they are supposed to help all genders acknowledge and fight to end their oppressions.
bell hooks speaks about thinking critically as a way to improve society. This relates so deeply to the point of this article. Women abusing the term "feminist" have not thought critically about feminism or the theories they may have been told about; therefore, wherever their misinformation comes from they aren't using feminism in the ways it was intended. The solution to stopping misinformed feminists is not to stop the term "feminism" from being used. The solution is to prevent these women from doing more damage by educating them so they use the movement as it was intended. The increase of famous men becoming feminist is a huge step in the right direction. After all, the most used argument from these misinformed feminists is "if you're a man, you can't understand." Well, ladies, men understand much more than you think!
To learn more about what men know about gender inequality, please read part II.
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