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

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

This is why I changed my mind.

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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.

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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Dear Young Voices Of America, Stand Up, Speak Up, And Do Something

Our time is now.

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Dear young voices of America, I think we can both agree that we are sick of being told we are America's future while simultaneously being told our opinions don't matter. Now I personally do not listen to the people that tell me I'm better seen than heard; however, I know there are people that are a little timider when it comes to raising their voices. I am here to encourage you to be loud and speak up on topics that matter to you. There is no better time than the present to make your voice heard. Whether you are advocating for change in your school or the government, your opinion matters and is relevant.

We are the future of our country. How are we supposed to evoke change and reform if we can't have our voices heard? I call bullshit and I think it's time to take action. Even if you're the first or only person to advocate for your cause, be that person. Don't be afraid of anyone that tries to stand in your way. The only person that can stop you from speaking up for yourself and your cause is you. No matter how many nos you have to hear to get a yes or how many doors you have to knock on to get someone to open up, never give up. Never give up on your cause, never give up on yourself or the people you're representing, just don't do it. There is someone out there that supports you. Maybe they're just too shy to raise their voice too. Be encouraging and be supportive and get people to take a stand with you.

It is never too early or too late to start thinking about your future or to take action. But don't hesitate to say something. The sooner you start speaking up, the sooner you have people joining you and helping you, and the sooner you start to see and experience change. So get up, make that sign, write that letter, make that phone call, take part in that march, give that speech. Do whatever you feel fit to get your point across. Shout it from the rooftops, write it on your profile, send it in a letter, ignore everyone that tries to tell you to give up. Maybe they don't understand now, maybe they don't want to listen, maybe they're afraid to listen, but the more you talk about it and help them understand what exactly you are trying to get across, they will join you.

Even when it feels like you have nobody on your side but yourself, I am on your side. I will cheer you on, I will march with you hand in hand, I will write letters and make phone calls and help you find your voice. My life changed when I found my voice and yours will too.

So dear young voices of America, the time is now. Your time is now. Don't be afraid of the obstacles that you may have to face. Someone is out there waiting for you, waiting to grab your hand and march on with you. As Tarana Burke once said "Get up. Stand up. Speak up. Do something."

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