The ‘F’ Word
After reading Jamie Freestone’s article I turned to my husband, who, while I may be biased, is one of the most decent, caring guys around. “Are you a feminist?” I asked (or to be honest, challenged).
“Um, ahh, well I believe in equality for everyone.”
“But would you call yourself a feminist?”
“I told you, I believe in equality for everyone.”
At this point I may have burst into an angry tirade about what a terrible person he was, without listening to a word that he said, before storming out. While he did snicker at me when I first told him I was a feminist, and while he has once said ‘what about equality for men?’ (Not to worry, he has not made that mistake again- not that I don’t believe in equality for men, but feminism is precisely about equality so it was silly thing to say), I thought that because we are always talking about feminist issues and because I know he agrees with me, that the ‘f’ word would slip off his tongue as easily as it slips off mine. But it didn’t, and it shocked me to the core.
After I stormed out I drove to my mother’s house and while I was talking to her about it my brother walked in. My brother is a self-proclaimed feminist and isn’t ashamed to say it, but he also saw my husband’s point of view; one I hadn’t seen myself up until that moment.
My husband didn’t shy from saying the ‘f’ word because he agrees with domestic violence and assault. He’s pro-choice and wants the pay gap to close. Basically he agrees with everything that the movement stands for. I would venture to guess that a large majority of men do – all the men that I know certainly do. I may just be lucky, but I don’t think that’s the case
It’s the word that is the issue, not the values and beliefs behind it. As my brother explained, the media have made such a joke of feminism, what with the invention of the Femi-Nazi, that it has become a dirty word to most people. Woman and men alike would not dare to say the word in public; not just for fear of repercussion in terms of what their peers think, but also because they don’t understand the context behind the word. Feminism is seen as an attack on men run by hairy women who simply want to complain about the sake of it. The issues and ideals behind the movement, the real ones, are never discussed, with only the very…erm…opinionated feminists given the spotlight, and then only when they are talking about issues that are not popular with the public; ones that are seen as taking ‘political correctness’ to the extreme. On top of that, those in the spotlight do tend to attack men, with gross generalisations being made, making feminism seem like a ‘women’s only’ club – and even then only for a select few.
The majority of feminists are never acknowledged, nor are their beliefs. That is why men don’t want to be called feminists, and would never venture to call themselves one. It’s not because they aren’t on our side, because you’ll find that most are. It’s up to us to educate both men and women alike about what feminism really stands for; rather than attacking them for not understanding and alienating them even more.
(Image credit: 1.)