Photo Credit: Clarke Sanders via Unsplash

Allow me to pose a query to you groovy and awesome carbon-based lifeforms:

When in the nine hells did “feminist” become a four-letter word?

Not sure what I mean? Walk into any group of people (primarily guy-shaped men of the male gender I’m ashamed to admit), mention the word “feminist” and see what reactions you get. Assuming everyone is being honest, you’ll invariably get some decidedly colourful and often very negative responses, which to me, seems absurd.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure someone can provide examples of “a man-hating, militant feminist who yelled at me for existing,” or some such thing.

However I have several problems with examples like that:

  • They lack context. What was the scenario that led to the altercation? If you take a swing at someone, you can’t really turn around and call them violent because they swung back. Did you say or do anything to provoke such a visceral response?
  • They rely on externally-imposed labels. Concepts like feminist are self-created identifiers, not externally assigned categories. Labels assigned from the outside are, at best, misinformed and at worst, insulting and demeaning. Just ask anyone in the LBGTQ community. Or a person of colour. Or a woman.
  • The “examples” are usually overblown. It’s easy to label a woman who is willing to stand up to the misogyny that pervades Western culture as a feminist – often in the same tone one would use to say man-hater. The problem is, the complainant is quite often basing this judgement on a single situation, involving one woman. By that logic, every time you get angry at the television because the satellite feed cut out during a game, you could be labelled a “television hater.” When you get angry at your children, you’d be a “child-hater.” As they say, one example is poor statistics.

For a moment, let’s assume everything I’ve just said is blithering nonsense, (not that hard to imagine perhaps) and proceed with the idea that men around the world have suffered at the hands of “man-hating feminists.”

Putting aside how utterly absurd that sounds, it simply doesn’t match reality. Even a cursory look at wage levels, suffrage and basic human rights around the world reveals the iniquities that still exist for roughly half the population.

At this point it would be easy to dismiss those who raise objections about feminism as chauvinists, or men who feel “threatened” by confident women. However, as with most important issues, it’s neither that simple, nor that complicated.

I am a feminist. I don’t really announce the fact, because I don’t need to. Actions and behaviour are louder, and far more profound, than mere words.

We need to stop talking about creating equality. What’s being “created” is inequality. Limiting behaviours must change, narrow mindsets abandoned, and young people educated by example, not just words.

Equality between the sexes already exists, whether we choose to see it or not.

Pointing out the iniquities, prejudices and inconsistencies in our modern society is not “complaining,” it’s highlighting truths we don’t want to face, but must.

Feminist does not mean “man-hater,” though considering the way women have been treated throughout history and even now, more than a dozen years into the 21st century, I can’t blame any woman for feeling that way.

Some days I do as well.

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