Do We Still NEED Feminism?

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For a lot of men (and, admittedly, a lot of women) feminism is not deemed a necessary political movement because, well… women have equality – don’t they? I mean, they don’t have to stay at home now, and they can wear what they like, so why are women moaning?

Yeah…. it isn’t that simple. Every feminist, at some point, will have been told “but we don’t need feminism anymore!” Well, here you have some evidence to prove those doubters wrong: Liz’s Handy List of Ten Reasons Feminism is Still Needed.

Every feminist, at some point, will have been told “but we don’t need feminism anymore!” Well, here you have some evidence to prove those doubters wrong: Liz’s Handy List of Ten Reasons Feminism is Still Needed.

  1. “Lad” culture. OK, I could probably write a book about the problems of lad culture and the need for someone to buy the poor misfortunate “lads” in question several feminist books, but I’m going to be succinct: going around and calling women slags does not make men more sexually desirable. Women are not, contrary to such opinion, blow up dolls built for pleasure – we have thoughts and feelings. If you are reading this and currently thinking that here I am wrong, and women solely exist for your sexual satisfaction: please invest in a blow-up doll, and cease to leave your bedroom. The world will benefit from one less lad.
  2. Rape (and rape jokes.) Rape jokes are, categorically, absolutely, 100% not ever funny. It doesn’t matter if you’re making the joke about your girlfriend, a stranger, a girl on a bus, a random girl on the internet: it’s still not funny. It’s no wonder less than 40% of rapes are reported to the police – many women fear they will not be believed. Imagine being stabbed, and then telling the police. “Well, are you sure you didn’t want to be stabbed? Maybe you shouldn’t have been wearing such thin clothes.” Then imagine having to hear people make jokes about it.
  3. Catcalling / street harassment. Men who engage in street harassment are not attractive, and it is not seen as complimentary to shout “nice tits!” out of your car window at a passing pedestrian, accompanied by honking your horn. It isn’t flattering, it isn’t ego boosting, it’s just demeaning and rude, and makes women singularly uncomfortable. If you can’t physically stop yourself from shouting “nice tits!” at women, I would strongly advice seeking medical attention.
  4. Pay inequality. Fun fact for you: did you know that due to the pay gap between men and women, women will essentially be working for free from the 4th of November until the end of the year? (Source) Women receive on average 15% less pay for the same work as men, and for women belonging to an ethnic minority, it’s 20%. Although women can be CEOs, of the 101 companies in the FTSE 100, only five have female bosses. Five. As Lily Allen sang: “there’s a glass ceiling to break/ there’s money to make.”
  5. The media. Again, this could be several articles in itself. Women are consistently negatively portrayed in the media, from adverts to music videos to TV shows. Women are often used as sexual objects in order to promote a product, with examples including close-up shots of women’s buttocks to sell jeans, nude/post-coital women to promote perfume and “sensual” close ups of lips to sell makeup. Advertising aside, women are seen as commodities in music videos – let’s not mention that Robin Thicke song – and in TV/films they are either seen as sexual and ‘bad’, or chaste and good, linking women’s sexual status to their morality and encouraging viewers to perpetuate stereotypes.
  6. Abortion. Although the 1967 Abortion Act legalised abortion (with restrictions), there remains a social stigma around abortion. 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime, but due to the perceived “shame” of the procedure, she may never discuss it with anyone other than her partner (and not even them, in some cases.) The regulation of women’s reproductive rights is also often decided by men, who frankly are unable to fully comprehend the experiences of women who are faced with these ludicrous laws. In America, in 2014 alone, there have been over 450 attempts to introduce laws restricting women’s bodies. There remain 0 laws restricting men in this manner.

    The regulation of women’s reproductive rights is also often decided by men, who frankly are unable to fully comprehend the experiences of women who are faced with these ludicrous laws. In America, in 2014 alone, there have been over 450 attempts to introduce laws restricting women’s bodies. There remain 0 laws restricting men in this manner.

  7. Body/slut shaming. There are a number of terms with negative connotations surrounding promiscuous women. But there are a grand total of 0 such terms which insult men for being promiscuous, just as there are 0 terms that hold sexually active women in a positive light. Equally, public body shaming is not an issue that men commonly face (comparing penis size is a private thing, so sit down.) But a number of celebrity males have got involved with the Sun’s new “No More Skinny” campaign opposing size 0 models. These celebrities include Professor Green, whose wife Millie Mackintosh has been criticised for promoting an unhealthy and idealistic lifestyle – and that’s the same Pro Green who called her a “thinspiration.” Right.
  8. Gendered language. “Don’t be a lil bitch.” “You run like a girl.” Why are these even insults? Earlier this year, Always launched a campaign to reclaim the idea of doing something like a girl, asking girls and teenagers what the stereotype was, and then encouraging them to think of “like a girl” as a positive thing. Being a girl is to be strong – if you’ve ever seen a boy being kicked in the crotch, this only emphasises my point. Remember the wise advice of Betty White: “Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding!”
  9. FGM. Female Genital Mutilation remains a considerable problem in Africa and the Middle East, where female sexual desire is perceived as negative and something to be controlled. While it varies in type from the removal of the clitoris to the complete surgical closure of the vagina, it is invariably performed without correct surgical equipment or supervision. FGM is becoming an increasing problem in the UK, where it remains illegal, but this does not change the horrifying fact that over 20,000 girls a year are at risk of FGM. 

    ‘Not all men!’ Please just do not say this to any feminist. We know not all men are rapists or sexists. We aren’t saying so. When feminists talk about these issues, we aren’t accusing anyone specific (unless we are actually naming names.) When men say “not all men!” what they actually usually mean is “but I’m not like that.” It’s like a really lame attempt to prove that they aren’t a misogynist, as well as excusing the behaviour of their gender.

  10. Not all men! Please just do not say this to any feminist. We know not all men are rapists or sexists. We aren’t saying so. When feminists talk about these issues, we aren’t accusing anyone specific (unless we are actually naming names.) When men say “not all men!” what they actually usually mean is “but I’m not like that.” It’s like a really lame attempt to prove that they aren’t a misogynist/sexist/creep/general douche, as well as excusing the behaviour of their sex. Instead of being that guy who uses the trope, why not instead go with “hey, I respect what you’re saying, and I’d like to reassure you that I think men and women should be equal. I don’t condone the behaviour of other men.” (Please note this only works in person. On the internet, it just makes you look like a super-polite troll.)

So there you have it folks. Make an informed choice, but if you’re fed up of being called “the feminazi” or told that women need to stop whining, whip out the guide and give them a piece of your mind.

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Final year French student and feminist.

Discussion5 Comments

  1. avatar

    Actually, there are negative names for promiscuous men. Not as many, granted, but there are, “Man-slut”, “man-whore”, “dog” and “pervert” are a few. On the flip side of this, men are also under pressure to act in a promiscuous way for them to be a “man”, which is the other extreme but also just as bad as expecting women to not be promiscuous to be “lady like”.
    Guys also suffer under body image issues – they are expected to be buff, handsome, skinny, wear beards, NOT wear beards – there are mixed messages for them too. It just isn’t pointed out or talked about as much as a problem because they’re guys and they’re expected “not to show feelings”. Btw I’m not a guy.
    Also – “Being a girl is to be strong – if you’ve ever seen a boy being kicked in the crotch, this only emphasises my point.” That’s because they have their genitalia on the outside. I’m pretty sure it would hurt more if we had more to hit when kicked in the crotch. That is not a quantifier of how strong women are compared to men I’m afraid.
    When men say “not all men!” what they actually usually mean is “but I’m not like that.” It’s like a really lame attempt to prove that they aren’t a misogynist/sexist/creep/general douche, as well as excusing the behaviour of their sex.” Please do not criticise guys for pointing out the blaringly obvious. Just because they say “not all men” (an immediate reaction by the way – okay, not a well thought out response to their defence but it is a logical one) does NOT mean they are excusing the behaviour of their sex or that they are trying to “prove” they are not any of those things. They are merely, as an instantaneous reaction, trying to defend themselves from the incessant barrage of perceived general men hating and I think it is a fair enough response. It is not all men, and a lot of them do say that they don’t condone this behaviour in other men.
    (Please note this only works in person. On the internet, it just makes you look like a super-polite troll.) Double standards here – it seems that, according to you, men cannot do anything right – unless it is in person. I think the majority of people would agree that in a serious discussion, even online, saying these things is not conducive to being a “super-polite troll”.

    RE: Oh dear
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    Although there may be names for promiscuous men they are certainly not as commonly used as similar names for women. The terms ‘man-slut’ and ‘man-whore’ significantly have a gender signifier at their beginning. This implies that the default ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ describe women exclusively- using these terms undermine women as well as men. I’m not sure if ‘pervert’ exclusively refers to male ‘promiscuity’ as its common to see it used to describe deviance from sexual norms.
    The article does not claim that men do not suffer from body image issues. As a man I can say that I probably feel less pressure around my appearance than the women I know. This doesn’t undermine the fact men might feel self-conscious and this should be definitely be discussed but i definitely think that more pressure is pushed onto women to act and appear in certain ways.
    You hit the nail on the head yourself regarding the use of “not all men” when you refer to it as blaringly obvious. It adds nothing to the discussion as it is clear to everyone involved that we are NOT talking about all men. The fact that it (as you put it) is a response to ‘perceived general man hating’ is another reason that we need more discussion about feminism. Many feminists acknowledge problems affecting men (gender roles, assumption that men can’t be raped etc.). This often lost thanks to people assuming that feminists are all ‘man-hating’. The fact that readers assume a feminist point is ‘man-hating’ without understanding all its content is the fault of the reader not the writer.
    The ways people argue on the Internet and real life are demonstrably different. As is evidenced by your post the people saying ‘not all men’ are not necessarily men- the double standard you refer to seems to disappear. People tend to respond far more aggressively to feminist points online (name calling, death threats etc.) than they would if listening to the discussion In real life. You cannot criticise the writer of this argument for assuming people are posting in bad faith online as they very often are.
    I definitely agree with your points regarding expectations upon men acting in certain ways. These gender roles and expectations are something that feminism actively counters for women AND men.

    Oh dear
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    Thank you for your comment. It’s nice to generate discussion, and I thank you for responding to my points in a non aggressive way as some people have. To emphasise, I am a feminist in the historical sense of the word, and there is more to be done. I simply feel that the way parts of this article and indeed other articles written by this author makes it seem a bit man hating, even if not intended.
    All the best

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    1. Lad culture is pretty poorly defined as it is, and as I understand it is basically middle class men making attempts at hyper-masculinity in terms of competitiveness, sexuality and humour. This description is reductive. Your description of the culture as men going around “calling women slags” and treating them as “blow-up dolls” brings reductive to a whole new level. You have taken the worst, minority fringe of a poorly defined culture (Strawman 1: how many ‘lads’ do you really think believe women exist solely for their sexual satisfaction) and have used it to represent a much wider culture. By condemning the whole culture, you are shaming men for neutral and positive masculine traits. ‘Lad culture’ is not synonymous with ‘rape culture’ and is also characterized by male camaraderie, humour, art and music. Viewed as a whole, it can be seen as a celebration of masculinity, which should not be vilified.

    Having said this, there are behavioural elements that occur when groups of ‘lads’ get together that are troubling. But I have also sat in on a girls night in, and have found the topics of discussion and attitudes towards the opposite sex offensive and troubling, so I would not want to single out one gender for criticism when it comes to group-behaviour. Some men and women clearly find such behaviours cathartic. Be as critical of these behaviours as you want, but probably best to put it in context, rather than just implying that lad(=young man/masculinity) is bad.

    2. Getting rid of rape jokes changes nothing. They are a symptom of the fact that rape is one of the only things in society we find truly shocking and can draw a cheap shock-laugh. They have no bearing on the rate at which rape is reported. I assume that for consistency’s sake that you want to get rid of all jokes about murder, genocide and paedophilia; this would certainly shut up a load of twats, but would also disempower those who use humour to conquer their own personal anxieties.

    Jokes are informed by intent. My own personal experiences with that particular crime have led me to bursting out in tears at parties from misspoken words, but I have no right not to be offended or upset by this world. By censoring other people’s use of humour, you would also take the voice away from people like comedian Janey Godley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wO-wnn69mog&feature=youtu.be

    And yes, murder victims are still victim-blamed. As are victims of all crimes. Why was he walking around there alone at night? Why didn’t they lock the front door?. (Strawman 2: How often do rape victims get asked whether they’re sure they didn’t ‘want to get raped’).

    3. Nobody with any stake in society cat-calls or street harasses. The people that do it are unattractive, they are usually poor, often homeless and lack power over their lives. It is designed to be demeaning and rude. The intent of it is to negate your power and bring you down to the level of the harasser. I don’t get this often repeated notion that cat-calling is a demonstration of male power. The most common culprits are builders and homeless people, who have very little power over anything. They are ignored and want any attention they can get. Feminism will do nothing to alter the causes of street harassment.

    4. Look, just show me any source that shows women get paid 15% less than men for doing THE SAME work and I will be all over this trying to help you. As it is there are laws against that sort of thing. This stupid stat has been disproved thousands of times, I don’t get why people still repeat it. Here’s The Hoff’s piece on it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-hoff-sommers/wage-gap_b_2073804.html (Strawman 3: Non existent problem)

    The number of female CEOs is currently equivalent to the number of women pursuing those roles. Women are over represented in humanity and sociology degrees, as well as occupational degrees such as medicine, which all give little in the way of preparing you for a rise through a company to the position of CEO. I have a degree in English, my current MA is the same. I would be shocked, worried and appalled if someone gave me that much responsibility, my genitals alone haven’t released their special patriarchy powers yet.

    5. Yeah, because men aren’t consistently represented as useless, violent, rapey morons. Dad has made a mess of things, but don;t worry here comes mum to sort everything out. And men’s bodies and masculine sexuality have never been used in adverts. Why is this an issue solely for women? Why would you need a gendered approach to this?

    6. Abortions are legal. They can also take a very heavy emotional toll on people. It is not a risk free procedure and is a big decision to make. At least women have some reproductive rights.

    7. Female sexuality holds a lot more value than male sexuality. This stems from the pre-contraception days. It takes a man a couple of minutes to make a baby (if they’re in a generous mood), it takes women nine months. Sex was also a very dangerous activity for women before modern medicine made child birth safer. As such, there was very much a need to keep female sexuality in check as recently as 100 years ago. It was mostly enforced by other women, incidently. Still is in fact!

    If you’re against body shaming, protest women’s and gossip magazines. Men, on the most part, don’t care if you have cellulite or if you wear make-up. Genuinely not as big a deal for us as you’d imagine. And I hear the term neck-beard bandied about a lot these days. Many more men are being pressured into similar cosmetic concerns. Society wide, not just women, feminism doing nothing to fix it. Gendered approach to any given problem, usually useless.

    8. Why is ‘butch’ an insult? It runs contrary to heteronormativity. Gendered insults don’t get their power from women=bad, they get them from different=bad. Nice of you to throw in a bit of gendered violence humour there though. Sure you’d be all chuckles after a punch directly to your unprotected ovaries. “Grow some balls” = “be a man.” Man = masculinity = strength/stoicism. Very funny though Betty.

    9. FGM, a practice already considered abhorrent by 99% of the population. You keep on fighting the good fight though feminism! Also, I’m not going to go into my whole intactivism rant here, but in many countries that practice FGM, they also practice very unsafe MGM methods that lead to a lot of boys dying from blood loss and infection.

    Really though, why can’t you fight for genital autonomy for all? You vagina has been protected by law from the day you were born. In our own country there are 30,000 newborn males that have the skin literally ripped, torn and cut away from their glans with inadequate aesthetic for no good reason. Equality in front of the law on this one would be nice.

    10. No no. Listen to the words, think about what they may mean. There’s a big difference between “Not All Men” and “Not Me.” When people are saying “Not All Men” to you, it is usually because you are sounding like a bigot. It’s like when your Nana has one too many sherries and starts her Muslim spiel, you just try to gently correct her. Rather than thinking “I’m right, I’m never wrong,” perhaps think about why your words are upsetting other people. I can’t stress this enough. If you were spouting crass generalizations about black people, or Jewish people, you’d probably get somebody saying something along the lines of “Not All xxx People.” It really isn’t a coincidence.

    Quick demonstration, “Imagine black people are a bowl full of M+Ms, 10% are poisoned. No matter how great the other 90% are, I just cannot trust black people, and feel more comfortable relying on prejudice.” You can see how that is racist, right? One word has been changed from a sentence that a lot of feminists bandy about. You can’t just request people to respect your bigotry. I don’t respect racists, misogynists, homophobes, islamophobes. I really don’t respect feminists. At least your garden variety racist has some self awareness to the fact that they’re an horrendous human being.

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