Posted by: kateybarley | January 22, 2014

Who Needs Feminism?

Who Needs Feminism?

            We briefly touched on the true meaning of “the f word” in class on Tuesday. Feminism is a topic that can make me pretty heated. I find it silly when people dismiss feminism. It is hard for me to identify with someone who does not believe that men and women should have equal opportunities, which is what feminism seeks.

            I like to keep up with feminist blogs and news sites since feminism is an interest of mine. I found out about this Tumblr blog, Who Needs Feminism?, a few months ago. People take pictures of themselves holding notes that start with “I need feminism because…” and then list their reason. The stories are everyday, simple occurrences that I believe many people can identify with. I am thankful that both men and women submit to this site because it illustrates the importance of feminism not only for women but for men as well.

            One interesting post that I saw was by a young man. His note read, “I need feminism because women should not say ‘all men are the same.’” You can view it at this link: http://whoneedsfeminism.tumblr.com/post/68053908592/i-need-feminism-because-women-should-not-say-all . This photo touches on a couple of points from Tuesday’s class: women assuming that they understand men and essentializing.

            Heifetz argues that women need to seek more understanding of men. I have heard the phrase “all men are the same” countless times as I’m sure most of you have. Would we be so accepting if a man said “all women are the same?” We cannot take a bad experience with one classmate, ex-boyfriend, professor, etc. and say that all men are like that. When we take one male and use him to characterize his whole gender, it is unfair. We are essentializing. Personally, it’s rare that I stand up on behalf of males when a friend is complaining about a bad experience with one. Oftentimes, I hear women quickly offer support and confirmation of this bad view of men. I know that I’m going to take this note and Heifetz’s argument that women need to work to better understand men into consideration the next time I hear this phrase.

            Feminism is not limited to a radical view or to just giving opportunities to women. It seeks to give equal opportunities to both men and women because really we are more alike than we are different. In addition, these opportunities can be small, such as the chance to be seen as an individual not bound to a certain view of your gender just as this young man is asking.


Responses

  1. Though I agree with this response, I often find myself avoiding any conversation involving the concept of feminism. This is not because I do not believe in equal rights for both males and females, but is because many people turn this conversation into males being “better” than females, or females being “better” than males. As said in this post and in class, men and women bring differences and similarities to the table. These differences and similarities are absolutely necessary to understand one another.

    I scrolled through this blog and found a post I found rather intriguing. Like Katey said, men cannot be classified as all being the same, just as women cannot. This post simply said, “Quality men believe in Equality for Women.” This post alone shows that not all men are the same and should not be reduced to all having chauvinist views on the rights of women. Feminism, as I am learning, is not a topic to avoid, but rather a topic to study thoroughly to realize the true meaning: equality for men and women alike.

  2. After reading this initial post, I have been very intrigued with these feminism blogs. However, my favorite post is also the one with the man saying he needs feminism because women should not say all men are the same. Let’s be honest – this is true! Even though I am a woman, I am guilty of sometimes coming to the assumption that “all men are the same.” Yet, us women are constantly asking men to better understand us. Why aren’t we working as hard to understand them as well? Perhaps if we spend more time embracing equality instead of complaining about it, we will learn more about men and women together.

  3. I completely agree that men and women should have equal rights. I just feel like whenever anyone, myself included, hear the word feminism they automatically tense up. The word, unfortunately, has a negative connotation. This should not be the case but it is. I feel that if there was some other word to associate women searching for equality, then there would be more constructive conversations for equality men and women. Changing the word might even be conducive to limit essentializing. It would also not shut out men from the search for equality and understanding because the word would no longer just associate with women as the name implies.

  4. I agree in saying how feminism seeks equality rather than seeking to make one gender or sex more or less than another. Being a male, I can definitely relate to the link that was posted about needing feminism because “not all men are the same”. And that’s very true!

    It’s unfortunate that feminism’s meaning and assistance many times aren’t taken into account, due to the negative stigma that the word may bring. However, I think it’s up to women and men to push for a “need for feminism” to push through the gender “differences” and work towards a unified and de-gendered view of women and men in leadership. Through our progress to create equal opportunities, we have somehow worked into a “Great -insert sex here-” view of leadership and accomplishment associated with particular traits of one gender.

    Maybe feminism is needed so we, as men and women, can defend rights for both sexes and genders to have any opportunity they desire, given they are able to successfully fulfill the duties. Therefore, is it fair to argue that feminism can be the tool that creates the equal opportunity we crave?

    I need feminism because leadership should be individualized to each person separately, and not towards generalizing men and women as entire groups of the same person.

  5. The topic of feminism is a touchy subject. I feel like when most people hear the word, they automatically think that a feminist has to be a woman who despises men, holds up picket signs for women’s rights, and thinks that men are useless creatures. However, many people don’t realize that feminism is not just about women’s rights, but it’s about equal rights in general, for both males and females. I think society just needs to be more educated on where the word actually comes from and what it actually means before they can make their judgments. Then, maybe we wouldn’t have such a negative association with the concept of feminism. In regards to the man holding up the sign saying he needs feminism so women don’t say that men “are all the same,” I think he has a very valid point. I, too, am guilty of sometimes saying “You’re all alike” a few times when a male did something that angered me. This is absolutely misguided though and I have even been told by guy friends of mine to not lump all males together because they all have different views and opinions. How can we expect men to see women in a new light if we just see them as being all the same? There are men who advocate women’s rights and there are men who believe in equal work opportunities. Society just doesn’t focus on those men because we choose to see the negative over the positive. I think the idea of feminism and equal opportunity in general needs to be looked at from both sides. Both men and women need to collaborate in order to make feminism a reality. It is not just a one-way street and I think that if women take the time to see where men are coming from too, we will be better equipped for change.

  6. I really like this post! It has really made me think about how I personally deal with the topic of feminism. I, too, find this a difficult subject to talk about openly with people (outside of our class). I agree with Bethany’s comment, stating that feminism is not the discussion of men or women being superior. It is about equality and the differences each gender brings to the table.

    I fall guilty of stating “all me are the same”. I, honestly, have never thought about what its true meaning entails until reading this post. In order for women to reach the goal of equality for both genders, generalizing has to come to a stop. It is just as bad for females to generalize men as it is for men to generalize women.

    I can remember saying the exact quote, “all me are the same” on so many different occasions. I have said it to men, and I have said it to women. With each gender, there has been a different response. Women, almost always agree, where the men are very taken back by the comment, and rightfully so. I think this can go along with the golden rule, “treat people the way you want to be treated”. We need to apply the golden rule to genders. Each gender should treat the other gender the way they want to be treated. Once this can be accomplished, I believe many of the problems surrounding gender equality will be solved.

  7. I must agree with others about the term “feminism”. For the longest time I envisioned a feminist as a woman who hated men and believed that they were far better than men. Although we all know that feminism is only the belief of men and women obtaining equal rights, I feel as if the term feminism has a negative connotation to it. The word itself is biased towards women.

    This is just a thought but I also wonder how people would react if a man identified himself as a feminist. I can personally say that I have never heard of a man identify himself as such. Would it have been alright if the guy in the picture identified himself as a feminist? Would men look at him differently and would women look him differently for it? Would women accept that as his social identity? Many of our readings have spoken on how women need to be taken seriously and that men need to understand women’s rights, and their abilities to lead. It has been implied that men do not understand women’s capabilities, and the struggles that they face. From this misunderstanding women have formed things such as The Great Woman Theory, Women in Leadership and even the term Feminism. But we must ask ourselves do these theories, concepts and terms like “feminist” create more separation than it does integration for society? Is feminism another box we as people are agreeing to put people in? Some people may be intimidated by the word feminism, like I was for so long, because they do not understand the real meaning behind it. Although I agree for what feminism stands for I think as a society we should stop labeling and creating boxes for people to fit in. It could be harmless but unconsciously it prevents others from being a part of what they really want to be. In addition, despite what you stand for there are others who may no longer see you as an individual but as part of a group. This is not always the case but as mentioned before this is just a thought that crossed my mind when reading this blog post.

    I love that he stood up to write that post because I have heard my fair share of women say that “all men are the same” and it is simply not true. Just like he stated, as a society we should not categorize people for all being the same. We are not just men, not just women but we are individuals, with our own personalities, our own strengths, weaknesses and experiences that not only shape us but help to shape our society. The sooner we see each other for being individuals and not for the identities in which we identify with the better off we will be as a society.

    • In relation to your comments about how society perceives men who call themselves feminist:
      When the suffragette movement was happing in the early 1900s, men who were husbands of suffragettes were considered emasculated. They were often depicted trapped caring for children or doing housework.

      Some Examples: https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/11/08/vintage-anti-suffrage-postcards/

      These men are meant to be ridiculed in these illustrations for performing such demeaning work. They were either depicted as complicit weaklings or sympathetic, trapped masculine men.

      Nowadays our attitudes towards men doing fatherly tasks is friendlier, but the ideas about the nature of men who support feminism still linger. They might still be thought of as weak, like they forfeited some of their masculinity to allow women more power. They can also be thought of as pandering to women, in an effort to gain approval. Especially for women who identify as feminist, however, a man who does is seen as an ally. He also comes off as being quite brave, considering how other guys might think of him.

  8. I think this is really interesting. Both genders are guilty of generalizing and stereotyping the other. It seems that women get away with generalizations more than men because they are the vulnerable group. This post points out that everything women do have a counter effect on men. Not that this is ever bad or good, I just think we have to be more aware of the consequences that may be unintended. We talk about ways to empower women, but where does that leave men? We talk about how women should empower other women, but what about men empowering women? Some women are quick to criticize stay at home moms. We should never criticize stay at home moms. First, it is rude. Second, those are the very people that will be raising the next generation who will learn the stereotypes that they are exposed to. Their mothers should be encourage their sons and daughters to do whatever they want and to respect women.

  9. I agree with your idea that the true, original definition of feminism is both relevant and important. I also agree with Caitlin’s comment on how both genders tend to “essentialize” each other and that is something that we need to address when we talk about moving forward with gender equality in both the workplace and in our more broad societal roles. While I understand that there are differences that men and women as broad groups tend to have and there are similarities that women tend to have and men tend to have. This should not, however, use those trends to make black and white “blanket” statements about how men and women think, feel and behave. I believe we still need feminism in it’s original sense because we still have a ways to go to rid ourselves of the stereotyping and lack of equality between genders


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