Feminism is a movement that has resonated with me since first becoming fully conscious as what it actually is. According to the OED feminism is as follows; feminism: NOUN, mass noun, the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
Much to the dismay of myself, many of my peers oppose to the idea that a word presenting movement regarding gender equality should contain a reference to women as opposed to calling the movement egalitarianism. But the reality is, in many respects women (and although I will collectively be addressing women throughout this piece, that also addresses cis, trans and those as part of the intersectional feminist movement) do NOT have the same privileges as men in many aspects of life. Of course, this isn’t to totally diminish the inequalities between men and women; but upon reflecting on the last several thousand years in terms of women rights, women have been oppressed, objectified, regarded as male property, and have had several laws limiting women’s rights to a humane and fair treatment.
I could list endless examples of how and why feminism is important; from succeeding in the campaign for women’s suffrage to acting as a conscious reminder that women are still being oppressed – and even in some cases killed – simply for engaging in sexual activities, an innate human desire. Gender roles in society as still somewhat prevalent in western society; true, intersectional feminism focuses on condensing down archetypal gender associations to simply characteristics of one’s own personality. Essentially, if you, a sentient being, identify with the desire for gender equality – you are a feminist.
Feminism, has gained increasing momentum in the last decade thanks to the explosion of social media – however, I have also noticed a growing trend in what I would deem “toxic feminism”. This mode of feminism, centres on supposed female empowerment and liberating female sexuality – but in many cases objectifies men more presently than mass media would dare to in regards to women. I have seen cases of articles (for personal reasons, I can’t include the content that I am alluding to) having been written addressing men as “not hot”; something that would cause outrage if the roles were reversed.
Many extremists would regard this current, man hating brand of “feminism” as a “feminazi” movement – and in some cases, I would argue that this radical approach to our own rights hinders sometimes more than it helps. Journalist Bindel in her article discussing toxic feminism in the Guardian states; “It is hugely important to hold abusive men to account, but we feminist campaigners have learned that the state allows men to perpetrate individual crimes, and have therefore tended to focus on making root and branch change. Lately we appear to have gone backwards. It is as though we have lost the strength and confidence to effectively challenge institutions.”
What is the danger in collectively addressing this brand of feminism with intersectional feminism, which campaigns for equality between all sexes and sexual orientations? Not only does it diminish the power and validity of women focusing on women’s rights and welfare which remains the core value of feminism itself, it perpetuates the illusion that most women are too part of this collective, degrading men as a form of self-empowerment.
Addressing the difference between feminism and toxic feminism remains crucial now more than ever, with a key emphasis of illustrating that your sex and gender are not a confine to various roles, traits, or qualities. Instead, let the emphasis be on empowering each other as opposed to belittling men for entertainment or in the name of “feminism”.