Feminism

I Used To Be An Anti-Feminist, But Educating Myself About Feminism Changed My Opinion

This is why I changed my mind.

86
views

Odyssey has seen quite a few articles written by women who disagree with modern feminism, and they are almost always met with a lot of backlash. Personally, I don't agree with these women's opinions, but I feel strongly that these are important discussions to have, and most importantly, not labeling one's self as a feminist doesn't mean you hate women and believe oppression is a good thing.

The definition of a feminist boils down to an individual who believes all genders should be treated with equal opportunity and respect.

So how did something so simple, and seemingly ubiquitous, get so complicated?

At the end of the day, modern feminism barely has an overarching definition beyond that. There are so many different schools of feminism, each with its own answers to the question of how we as individuals and a society combat sexism and promote gender equality. Mainstream feminism, liberal feminism, radical feminism, sex-positive feminism, intersectional feminism, the list goes on and on. Literally, any ideology you have, there's probably a branch of feminism for that. There are many situations in which two self-identified feminists find themselves strongly disagreeing on a very pertinent topic.

That's why it's so important we don't oversimplify.

I remember first being exposed to feminism around the time I started going on the internet on my own during middle school. Growing up, I was always under the impression that, in the Western world at least, women had achieved equality once and for all in the 1970s or so, and from then on out, discrimination was over.

So naturally, when I saw women online talking about their experience of oppression, I found myself rolling my eyes. After all, I had never personally experienced sexism! I was never told I couldn't be smart, I was encouraged to play sports, nobody restricted my career options.

I also felt somewhat personally attacked because I have always presented as traditionally feminine appearance-wise, and I wasn't that sporty like the other girls at my school. I thought that feminism was attacking my lifestyle and telling me I was oppressing myself. All the men and boys in my life treated me like an equal (or so I thought), so what was all the fuss?

Only once I got to high school did I see how skewed my view was.

I went to private school from preschool through 8th grade. At least 90% of my school was white. Pretty much everyone was well off. I thought that's how the whole world was. I lived in a bubble.

Never did I question our school's sexist dress code nor the comments one male teacher made towards me when I wore tank tops to school on hot days despite the rules ("You know you don't need to dress like that to get boys' attention!"). Never did I question the internalized misogyny that caused me to feel insecure for wearing dresses when all my female classmates were wearing jeans and told me being "girly" was the same as being weak and stupid. Never did I question the messages I received about female sexuality (like that masturbation was gross and embarrassing).

More than anything, I wanted desperately to avoid being told that I belonged to an oppressed group. As human beings, we want to feel empowered. When I was told I should support feminism because I, as a girl, was at a disadvantage in the world, I rejected it. I was uncomfortable, just as I was uncomfortable admitting that, growing up in a white family in a wealthy community, I had had a lot of privilege and I was often sheltered. And even with that privilege, I had indeed experienced sexism, I just wasn't educated enough on the topic to recognize it and stand up to those who were acting unfairly. I didn't realize that criticizing behavior by men was not the same as saying all men are sexist pigs.

I didn't realize that feminism had never been about hating men or dismissing issues men face, such as higher incarceration rates, decreased likelihood of reporting domestic abuse or sexual assault, bias in custody battles, toxic masculinity, and more. Effective feminist movements address these issues as well, believing that they are also a product of the patriarchy, just as the oppression of women is.

The biggest reason I changed my mind was that I connected with people who actually wanted to have a dialogue. To hear what I had to say and, based on that, educate me as to how my dislike of modern feminism was based on misinformation and misunderstanding. I try to continue to use this strategy now, especially because a lot of people who claim to be against feminism don't realize how many different schools of thought there really are. There's a good chance that even if you have a different viewpoint from mainstream feminism, there is a type of feminism which does align more with your beliefs.

We all want to see a world where women and men are on the same playing field. We just have different beliefs on how we, as a society and as individuals, can get there and what exactly a world of equality looks like. So, to anti-feminists: instead of making blanket statements about your attitude towards a movement with a lot of ideological diversity, take time to understand the nuances, and maybe reconsider. You might be surprised by what you find.

Popular Right Now

This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
325192
views

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Sociolinguistics Series: Part 50

Language is a powerful tool.

68
views

It's part 50--halfway to 100! I'm so glad to still be here writing! In this section, we will talk about Dr. Shikaki's findings on how Palestinians view the state of Israel.

25 years ago, 85% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution. 10 years ago, this number decreased to 70%. Dr. Shikaki believes this was due to an increase in the prominence of Islamism in Palestinian society during the second intifada; Islamists were opposed to the two-state solution. In the most recent survey, the December 2018 one, only 43% of Palestinians supported the two state solution.

In 2000, American President Bill Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat at the Camp David Summit to come up with a solution to the conflict. It ended without an agreement, but in December of 2000, Clinton once again proposed a resolution: the Clinton Parameters.

The content of the Parameters basically allowed Israel to annex settlements while Palestine to take 94-96% of the West Bank, as well as Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. There were other guidelines regarding territory, refugees, security, and the end of the conflict. Essentially, the West Bank would have been split up by Israeli roads and settlements--which is kind of the reality today.

Both the Israeli government and Arafat accepted the terms with reservations, and Arafat wrote to Clinton a letter asking for clarifications on the terms. Clinton and Dennis Ross, an envoy of the Parameters, publicized that Arafat had refused to accept the terms; they painted Palestinians in a negative light, saying that Israel wanted to accept the peace negotiations but Palestine did not.

American Lawyer Robert Malley was at the Camp David Summit and oversaw parts of the Clinton Parameters. In 2001, he said that three myths had come out of the failure of both negotiations, and that these three myths were dangerous to any future peace processes if people kept believing in them.

These myths are as follows: "Camp David was an ideal test of Mr. Arafat's intentions," "Israel's offer met most if not all of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations," and "The Palestinians made no concession of their own."

He said that these three statements were not true but very heavily publicized by America and Israel after the negotiations failed; rather, there is more nuance to each of these issues, and America and Israel have just as much responsibility in the failure of the Summit and Parameters as Palestine did. Malley wrote, "If peace is to be achieved, the parties cannot afford to tolerate the growing acceptance of these myths as reality."

Anyway, what does this have to do with Dr. Shikaki? He polled Palestinians not only on the their attitudes to the two-state solution, but the Clinton Parameters as well. 25 years ago, there was 60% support for the Clinton Parameters by Palestinians, but the June 2018 poll showed that the number had gone down to 37%.

The last ten years shows a significant decrease in public support for both the two-state solution and the Clinton Parameters, and it could be a result of disagreeing with specific parts of the proposals (such as how the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock or Jerusalem is delegated).

I did some further digging when I got home, and I found this data from the UN Division for Palestinian Rights website:

"A 25 December [2000] published poll found that 48% of the 501 Israelis questioned were opposed to the proposals; 57% would object to Palestinian control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound; 72% were against even a limited return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. A 29 December published poll found that 56% of the Israelis would oppose a peace agreement reached on the basis of the Parameters."

This shows that though public media--especially Western media--may have painted the Palestinian government as the villain (and Israel and America as the "victims"), the proposals accepted by either government had varied support among its people.

The Israeli civilian population did not want to accept the Clinton Parameters because of the way certain things would be resolved; their reservations lie with the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque because the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in the world for Jews, would have been given to Palestine, while Jews would have control of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (which is the status quo).

In addition, there was a section in the Clinton Parameters that dealt with the right of return for Palestinians, where there would be a certain number of Palestinian refugees who settled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while other Palestinians either would become citizens of their host countries, move to a third-party country, or settle back into the land that is Israel Proper (with permission from the Israeli government, of course); many Israelis did not support this.

That was the public opinion years ago. Today, there is even less support for these proposals. Dr. Shikaki outlined three issues as reasons for a decrease in support of compromise, which we will cover in the next section. Stay tuned!

Related Content

Facebook Comments