I feel like it’s something that has been said many times, especially recently, but yes, in fact, we do still need feminism. There have been many campaigns, especially on tumblr, that have tried to show how sexism, rape culture, and other issues, are still impacting society. But why do I feel like nobody but those of us who already own our feminist titles are listening?
Of course, as we all know, the word feminism carries with it an unfair negative connotation. More than likely, if you are in a room with a group of people and you say the word “feminist” a wave of awkward silence will crash over you all, and every male within a 20 foot radius of you will get a very bad case of chauvinism. Even the men you thought you knew.
They take it personally, these men. They make it about them when really it is about women (and by women, I mean all women, I am an inclusive feminist). Actually, it is about men also, but instead of seeing the benefits of dismantling the patriarchal influence over society, most men choose to see it as a threat to their own individual being.
Yesterday, I went out with my youngest brother. He’s 20, engaged, and he has four kids. Three stepchildren and one biological child. Yesterday, I officially came out to my family. And he was first person I told.
Now, my family has always been very open-minded, so he was very happy for me and excited. He said that he would rather have me dating women than men, because he did not trust men. That began a discussion between us about men, which eventually led to a discussion about feminism.
My brother tries to understand feminism, and he tries to be supportive of it, but sometimes he fails and sometimes he succeeds. Talk to him about rape, and he can get up in arms, taking it personally; to him, bringing up rape statistics is like accusing him of rape, because “not all men are like that”.
But yesterday, as we stood at the counter of Starbucks waiting for our frappucinos, he began to say that he felt as though men were just scared of feminism because of their egos. He said most of them felt like it didn’t benefit them, so they didn’t want to have anything to do with it, and he believed that they were wrong.
I told him that feminism did benefit men. I began to explain to him that the patriarchal society that we live in hurts men as well as women, because it does not allow men to have emotions. At least not emotions that are seen as feminine, like sadness. It does not allow them to express themselves in the way they want, because they are men, so they must be masculine and only express the traits that are seen as masculine.
These expectations of men are the reason why my youngest brother would always begin to ignore the stuffed animals he had wanted so badly once his friends made fun of him for it. These expectations of men are the reason why my youngest brother gets embarrassed when he talks about how he baked a pie, or made essential oils to help combat his fiancée’s muscle pain, or how excited he is because he got a $15 giftcard for Hobby Lobby.
And I could tell that he was thinking about all of the times he probably wanted to do something, but didn’t, because it would seem too “girly”. And all the times he wanted to say something, but didn’t, because it would make him seem weak. He told me “that’s also why men are more aggressive, and then they get put away in jail for being aggressive”. And I was happy because I could tell we were making progress.
So, yes, we still do need feminism, for women, but also for men. And if I have to be the person at the party who brings everyone down with her “feminazi” talk, I will be. If I have to be the person that ruins a funny commercial for someone because it is sexist, I will be. If I have to be the person who ruins a catchy song for someone because it supports rape culture (Blurred Lines, I’m looking at you), I will be. Because we still need feminism. We do.