There is a new movement afoot on social media. The Women Against Feminism movement is based upon the idea that feminism is bad. That feminists are whiny and like to play the victim. Unfortunately, their definition of feminism is way off the mark.
Maybe we should get that before we go any further. What is Feminism, anyway? The dictionary defines it like this: the movement for social, political, and economic equality of men and women. Note that men are included in this definition, which is accepted across the board. Feminist.com elucidates:
“… feminism means that women have the right to enough information to make informed choices about their lives. And because ‘women’ is an all-encompassing term that includes middle-class white women, rich black lesbians, and working-class straight Asian women, an organic intertwining with movements for racial and economic equality, as well as gay rights, is inherent to the feminist mandate. Some sort of allegiance between women and men is also an important component of equality. After all, equality is a balance between the male and female with the intention of liberating the individual.”
It’s obvious that the women who participate in Women Against Feminism, are not very informed about what it actually is. They see the very radical feminists and assume that they represent the entire width and breadth of feminism. That behavior is just as bad as what they are accusing feminism of doing: painting all feminists as man-hating, victim-playing lesbians is ridiculous and patently false. Blanket statements only cover the truth.
Perusing the photos on the Women Against Feminism Facebook page, these are some of the signs held up for the camera:
Seeing these words makes my heart hurt. The reason these young ladies don’t need others to “fight their battles” is because my generation and generations of women before me did it for them already. They can say “I’m not a victim” because we made sure they would not be one. They have what they see as equality because we fought for it. Feminism doesn’t “mean the same thing it did 50 years ago” because we changed things. Seeing these young women rejecting the very thing that made it possible for them to even be pursuing an advanced education is disappointing. That they think feminism means that they can’t make their own choices or must hate men or can’t be feminine is indicative of their deep misunderstanding of feminism.
Thankfully, I’m not alone. A backlash is brewing against WAF on college campuses and in social media. The backlash seeks to point out that the women who attack feminism are “grossly uninformed” as to what it actually is. Juliana Rose works as a counselor at a resource center for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and she is “frustrated” with the WAF:
“Feminism is about equality. The majority of moderate feminists want equality, and that is it. I think the women of this movement are misinformed and heartbreakingly so. They claim that because they, themselves, have the ability to wear revealing tops, and the men in their life [sic] respect them, and they have never been told they cannot do something, that feminism is a relic of ages past. These women are not only uniformed, but dangerously so. By decrying feminism they are abandoning women everywhere who still need it, because how else will they be given the chance to have the same freedoms ‘Women Against Feminism’ so obviously enjoy?”
Indeed. The women who embrace WAF, seem to think that, if everything is okay with them, then it is with every woman. We know that this is not so. A cursory glance at world news confirms this: women still forced to wear burkas, still raped then blamed for it, still beaten by boyfriends and husbands, still mutilated, still paid less than men, still denied an education. By rejecting feminism, these women are saying that other women — women not like them — don’t matter.
The handful of RadFems who seem to be what the WAF movement is reacting to, is not the real face of feminism. But the real faces of feminism are very different. The faces of feminism include Susan B. Anthony, yes. But also Margaret Sanger, Nellie Bly, Clara Barton, Rosa Parks, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Janet Reno, Kathryn Bigelow… These women, and so many more, fought for equality and for the rights that the women of WAF now enjoy so blithely.
But the fight is not over until every woman is paid the same as men for the same job. It’s not over until every woman controls her own body. It’s not over as long as women are not fully protected by the law. It’s not over until the actual victims of rape aren’t treated as though they asked for it. It’s not over until every woman in the world can seek an education.
I’m sorry that you were belittled and called names and treated poorly by a small segment of women who call themselves feminists. But you need to understand that judging an entire group by the actions of a minority is wrong. Your experiences with that minority should be acknowledged and repudiated by every feminist. But you also must understand that your definition and view of feminism is wrong. And, by embracing it you dishonor all of the women who came before you. True Feminism = egalitarianism. THAT is what we must continue to fight for.