Feminism is fundamentally about women

By Emeline Armitage | February 20, 2015

To whom it may concern, please inscribe this on my tombstone: Feminism is not man-hating. Feminism is not man-hating. Feminism is not man-hating.

I am so tired of saying that.

I am tired of defending an ideology that works to achieve gender equality. I am tired of explaining that no, in fact, feminism is not man-hating. I am tired of hearing “Oh, you’re not that type of feminist.” Thank you?

Feminism, at a macro level, has its problems: the classism; the too-often exclusion of women of color, queer women and trans women; the U.S.-centrism; etc. Man-hating is not one of these problems.

I never get tired reading about feminism and love it when pieces about feminism are published anywhere. However, I was perplexed by some of the statements made in Sharon Lam’s opinion article “Feminism is about gender equality across society” published in the Feb. 12 edition of The News-Letter. Though Lam does not equate feminism with man-hating throughout her entire article, she ends with “we need to get at the roots of this [gender inequality] and understand feminism for what it really is, not as a vehicle to advocate female superiority or man-hate.” Yet Lam does not include a single example in her entire article of feminism being used to “advocate female superiority or man-hate.” And even if she had included some examples, isolated incidents should not discredit a movement made of millions.

Throughout her article, Lam concentrates on gendered and sexist language such as “stop bitching around” and “stop trying to be the man.” To be sure, sexism hurts everyone, but it does not hurt everyone equally. Lam writes, “That [gendered stereotypes hurt men] is why not only women should be concerned; this is a movement for everyone.” Feminism is the ideological response to society’s oppression of women — everyone should be concerned about gender equality, but not everyone should be its focal point. I’m not denying that sexist language hurts men, but I am arguing against the fact that men’s and women’s issues shouldn’t be weighed equally in the fight for equality. I will focus on men’s issues as much as I do on women’s when Congress isn’t 80 percent male and 80 percent white, when one in five women aren’t raped in college, when 25 percent of Native American and black women are living in poverty, when 100 percent of U.S. presidents aren’t men and 97 percent aren’t white, when six trans women of color haven’t been reported murdered so far in 2015. I would love to witness a point in society when I can feel comfortable concentrating on men’s issues as much as I do women’s. I do not believe this day will come in my lifetime, but I can dream.

There are other isolated issues in Lam’s article. She asserts that “It’s true that men generally demonstrate greater skills in math and geometry based on their brain development and that women show greater aptitude in areas involving language.” However, Lam does not adequately explain that societal attitudes and forces are most likely to blame for this disparity. According to the American Psychological Association, “Perceived or actual differences in cognitive performance between males and females are most likely the result of social and cultural factors.”

As I said, I always appreciate reading about feminism, and I encourage people to write more. Disagreement can be a great thing by spurring discussion about what feminism is and what it should be. I hope that more articles about feminism and social justice issues will be published — whether I agree with them or not — and that discussions about these issues will increase.

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