The Other Side of Feminism

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Feminism. An increasingly familiar concept that has captured the attention of millions of people worldwide. But has it gone too far?

Up until now, the concept that women should be treated the same as men has been an alien idea to most cultures throughout most of history. It is only really the last few decades that have seen the emergence of thousands of females determined to collectively achieve equality to men.

'Descent of Man': Too far?
‘Descent of Man’: Too far?

Personally, I believe in feminism; rational, reasonable feminism. Women should have the right to be treated the same as men; for example, if a man and a woman have the same job title and role, their salary should be the same, and so on. Socially, politically, economically, legally – people are people, and rights are rights.

However, I also believe that feminism’s parallel concept is overlooked; I mean, has anyone even heard of masculism? Does anyone know a self-proclaimed masculist? Even typing this into the word processor, I get a squiggly red line underneath those words. Yet it recognises ‘feminism’ and ‘feminist’. It’s difficult to research masculism because the only websites that mention it are blog pages, Wikipedia sites and so on – the infamous URLs that lecturers would have you hung, drawn and quartered should they appear in your bibliography.

People need to realise that it works both ways. Yes, some things are unfair on women; they are patronised, stereotyped, objectified, discriminated against. But so are men.

I know several feminists who complain about objectification. Women are ogled, whistled at and whispered about, but let’s face it ladies – we’re not entirely innocent of checking out a good looking guy, are we? Or even giggling about him with our friends? I’m speaking generally, but often men tend to take this as a confidence boost, not an insult. And for those who don’t, what if they’re made to feel just as self-conscious as a woman might? Perhaps subtlety is the key in acknowledging a hot stranger, and that’s where some men (and women) fall short.

You can barely go near a Hollister branch without seeing a middle-aged woman or an awkward teenage boy clutching a bag featuring a topless male looking windswept and seductive, yet it’s always the use of slim, airbrushed female models in advertising that are criticised for being harmful to women’s self-esteem. What makes people think that men don’t compare themselves to these ‘beautiful’ images just as much as women do, and feel inadequate because they’re not tall, tanned or toned?

Spot the objectification
Spot the objectification

Stereotyping raises further issues. But we have always stereotyped people, and we probably always will, secretly, to a certain extent. The most common female stereotypes include that women are ‘over-emotional’, ‘bad drivers’, and ‘family-oriented’. Women used to be – and in many cases still are – expected to be domestic goddesses, experts at cleaning, cooking and bringing up children. But these stereotypes are not necessarily true, and I know a good number of academic, career-focussed women who drive perfectly well and don’t even cry watching Titanic (a skill that some men, my three male housemates included, haven’t mastered).

‘Sex-obsessed’, ‘chauvinistic’, ‘domestically incapable’ and ‘macho’ are amongst many stereotypes often attached to men, which are often totally false. How many times have you heard the words ‘men can’t multi-task?’ Equally, men are subject to assumptions. The age-old expectation that the man should work to earn money for his family is still commonplace. How many ‘househusbands’ do you know? Do some men not feel intimidated by the pressure of having to bring in enough income to support both themselves and others? Although career-oriented women have increased in numbers and progressed significantly, housewives are still far more common than their male counterpart, showing that men often bear the responsibilities of financial stability and reliability.

Feminist graffiti
Can you imagine ‘Masculism rocks’ graffiti?

I reiterate, I’m all for feminism, and I think it’s really important that discrimination and inequality should be viewed universally as wrong. My point is not that all feminists are man-haters, but that some should be careful to consider their issues from a male perspective. Sexism affects both genders in a multitude of ways, but can you imagine the uproar should a group of men start preaching masculism, holding protests against male discrimination and insulting women in the way that extreme feminists sometimes insult men? Just remember that men have feelings too, and can be equally made self-conscious by ogling eyes, or put down by numerous images of idealistic male models, or offended by stereotypes, even though they might not show it. So perhaps, in these cases, we shouldn’t be arguing for  equality for women – perhaps we should be arguing for equality for people.

 

Action Man

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Discussion11 Comments

  1. avatar

    I understand where you are coming from but i’m afraid this article is based on a fundamental flaw where you have misunderstood what feminism is. Feminism is the belief that men and women are equal, and the movement is designed to point out gender injustices in society – whether they be related to male, female or trans.

    Hays
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    That may well be the definition of feminism, but actions speak louder than words. It’s no use repeating the dictionary definition of feminism when faced with criticisms of what the feminist movement is doing in realty. This isn’t misunderstanding feminism, it’s reacting to what people are doing in the name of feminism and realising that it is wrong.

  2. avatar
    Agree with the above

    The whole discussion of “masculism” is irrelevant because feminism is about equality! Equality for everyone, not just women. You seem to have taken the “fem” and run with it. Feminism deals mainly with the treatment of women since they are the ones who historically are treated as inferior, but the message is of equality and the ending of patriarchy. Since the things people often point out are unfair on men (the treatment of male rape, gender stereotypes/expectation to “be a man” etc) are a product of the patriarchy, feminism seeks to end them.

  3. avatar

    Feminism exists because feminists had something to fight for. If you believe that men do also perhaps start a movement and argue for it… Instead of suggesting feminism shouldn’t exist because masculism doesn’t. Additionally, I agree men do have their issues but they were/are nothing compared to what women used to have to face – and it’s the larger issues that made the smaller ones have to be talked about, as they are part of the bigger picture. I think you’re oversimplifying the whole issue.

  4. avatar

    *sighs*

    i’m sorry naomi-jane, but you hideously miss the point in this article. feminism is anti-patriarchy (which affects both men and women) rather than anti-male. feminism believes everyone should be treated fairly, and it’s unfair of you to assume it’s otherwise. yes, men are raped, men are abused, men are victims of sexist attack, and feminism is there to fight against that just as much as it does the female counterparts. it seems you fail to look beyond the existence of ‘fem’ in the name.

    unfortunately, that ‘fem’ exists because no matter how you look at it, we’re under the influence of the patriarchy. please research this!

    you ask us to imagine what the male counterpart to feminism is. it’s feminism. if men want equal rights, they’re feminists. if you take a look around the internet, you’ll see ‘masculinism’, or men’s rights activists (MRA), are rife. they more than often do not stand for equality. instead, they whine, they shame and attack women, they complain about equality and everything feminism tries to achieve, and they also wear fedoras. i’m joking about the last bit, but you see what i mean. it does exist, and it’s not pretty. MRA is by no means a male alternative to an equal rights movement.

  5. avatar
    Naomi-Jane Andrews

    Perhaps I wasn’t quite clear enough – I’m not slating feminism, or trying to define or explain its purpose. I understand that actual, proper feminism is all-inclusive, and not solely for the benefit of women; However:
    As Hays said, it’s more about how many self-proclaimed feminists react to certain situations. Hence the ‘has it gone too far?’
    So maybe the primary issue is a general lack of understanding about what feminism actually is, and what/who it stands for.
    It’s based largely on personal experience – I know several ‘feminists’ who are constantly complaining that men always stare at them, and how women have life really hard but men don’t appreciate that, etc etc. My point was really to try and show these people that actually, it does work both ways.
    So to reiterate, I am not making an attack on feminism, or a bid for men’s rights. I’m just expressing my frustration at the lack of thought that often goes into making complaints and stereotyping, and the lack of consideration for others who may be in a similar position. Apologies if I haven’t been clear enough.

    Naomi-Jane Andrews
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    And I didn’t intend to infuriate any die-hard feminists! Sorry!

    CDK
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    Perhaps the problem is asking ‘has feminism gone too far’, considering there has been absolutely no discernible societal change towards a female bias that would indicate this question as having a real-world basis (if indeed you accept that Feminism’s focus is gender equality). Rather than utilise anecdotal evidence from your own friends to criticise supporters of an enormous and complex concept, maybe a better focus for the intentions of this article would be to explain how Feminism is about true gender equality and how following these ideals would benefit discrimination against both genders? I understand what you’re trying to say, but by incorrectly implying that Feminism in general does not consider the negative effects of gender inequality on Men just because you know some ‘feminists’ that don’t, you make it appear that you too do not understand the concept.

    Oh, and: “can you imagine the uproar should a group of men start preaching masculism, holding protests against male discrimination and insulting women in the way that extreme feminists sometimes insult men?” The MRA movement is a large and noisy online presence that has committed numerous mass-attacks on feminists and women in the media. What was your research for this? In the least few months alone there have been several trials for people who have made death and rape threats against women who, for example, went ‘too far’ by asking for a woman to feature on any of the new banknotes…

  6. avatar

    On first read I thought this was satire. This really misses the mark. You need to do some research before publishing more like this in the future beyond a quick browse of Reddit. Even the way you mention “die hard” feminists makes it abundantly clear that you don’t understand the issue.

    helen
    avatar

    Right on sister!

  7. avatar

    You’ve not missed the point of feminism at all. Fortunately, it looks like you’ve started to strike upon some of the points that are seeing so many people abandon feminism in favour of the gender neutral approach of egalitarianism.

    The phrase “the concept that women should be treated the same as men” is quite revealing of feminism, as it actually fails to quantify the worth of women, and is just a statement of something that should happen. As an egalitarian, I do not believe that ‘women should be treated equally to men,’ I believe that ‘women and men are equal.’

    There isn’t a masculanism as such, but there are plenty of Men’s Rights Advocates. Mostly made up of genital intactivists, male DV victims and divorced fathers. They are heavily derided by feminists as they pretty much reject their theory wholesale in their attempt for parity. They held a conference on Detroit that was almost shut down by bomb threats. You can see the violent protests at Warren Farrel’s Toronto speech on youtube. If you want to make your own mind up on them, you could read Warren Farrell’s ‘The Myth of Male Power’, Christina H Sommers ‘The War on Boys’ or have a look at Karen Straughn’s youtube channel. You’ll notice that many of the leading voices in the group are women, some of whom still identify as feminist.

    You will often see feminists groups trying to shut down and silence MRAs. You will never see MRAs trying to silence feminists. Which I think speaks volumes.

    I’d really suggest to anyone who is into feminism (as I was for most of my life) to have a very critical look at patriarchy theory and ideas of female immanence and male transcendence. Have a very close look at feminist groups and their use of statistics (women get paid 79% of men’s wages, disproved over and over; 1 in 5 women sexually assaulted in US colleges, disproved over and over, both still stated as fact). Generally taking a step back and having a look at the criticism of feminism with an open mind is a very beneficial thing to do.

    And for the last paragraph, there’s uproar when men talk about the bias of the family courts, the failure of boys in education, male depression, male DV, male genital mutilation. It would all be a bit much if the MRAs started #KillAllWomen hashtags and started saying things like “Imagine women are a bowl full of M+Ms, 10% are poisoned, would you eat a handful?”

    Seriously, when you read feminist articles, or see their hashtags, or memes; remove the word ‘men’ and replace it with ‘black people’ or ‘jewish people’ or ‘gay people’ or ‘women’ and it completely reveals that feminism as it stands today relies almost entirely on the language of bigotry.

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