Here’s Why Feminism Matters

It's been a weird couple of years and when I say "a couple of years" I mean since the dawn of time. Equal rights scare a lot of people. Robin Thicke doesn't scare enough people. The word "feminist" frightens actresses, and the Supreme Court of America has deemed corporations more important than human beings in terms of protecting them (from unwanted pregnancy — but only if you're a woman).

That's right: certain U.S. companies will cover men's contraceptives but they won't cover women's contraceptives because "choose life" or something . . . ? Exactly. Question marks everywhere. Who knows. Who knows anything anymore. Things have changed, but they also haven't. The other day I went to the bookstore and a complete stranger told me not to read Hillary Clinton's book because she was a whore. Cool, pal. "Whore." As if being a sex worker is an insult, and as if one's argument is only affective if it pertains to sex or somebody's gender. (I wonder if he'd have used the same insult if I'd been holding Bill Clinton's book.) And that is one tiny incident that happened within a few minutes of my day. We all have about a million other incidents, and the world is filled with billions and trillions more.

So ultimately, this is why feminism matters: because things suck. It sucks that I'm scared to walk to my car at night, and it sucks that we ask our friends to call us so we know that they get home safe, and it sucks that we have our own shitty stories, and it sucks that in certain parts of our own backyard women are being deprived of the same rights men have in droves. (Not to mention the rest of the world — which, when you think about it, is so overwhelming that crawling under this desk and sleeping for a few decades feels like an easier solution than working to do or solve anything.) Yes, we get to vote (yay!) but with that comes other "responsibilities": like looking a certain way, or weighing a certain amount, or keeping our mouths shut when we see something sexist happening because nobody wants to be an unfunny, boring, blah blah blah feminist.

Well I do. And I am. To me, there isn't anything funny about misogyny, sexism, the patriarchy, or sexual violence, so I'm more than happy to not just embrace feminism, but the role of "unfunny feminist" when I need to call some bullshit out. You're right, guy trying to tell me I don't have a sense of humour, I don't. Not about being treated like garbage, and certainly not about being told how to confront a system that's been threatened by my (and any other woman's) strength since I learned how to say "no." So sure, I'll fill that role — even though being angry and being a feminist aren't even remotely related.

Here, for the millionth time, is what feminism is: equality. Equal rights between men and women. And it is for all of us. It is for women because it works to make us actual people. It is for men because men aren't the enemy, and they're not the problem. Patriarchy is the problem. Rape culture is the problem. I don't know any man (anymore) — and I hope neither do you — who see women as second-class citizens. None of my guy friends defend the acts of victim-blaming or slut-shaming. But patriarchal values (the same kind that fuel the myth of male masculinity and the idea that men must assert some mythical superiority) hurt everybody. They make men aspire to a damaging image. They make women the victims of these men. And they tell all of us that we are worth who we fuck, and who we don't. Fortunately, feminism says "nope!" and works to put an end to the cycle responsible for everything from low self esteem to sexual assault to abuse to murder. It reminds us that women are people, and men are people, and people aren't supposed to treat other people like less-thans. We are more than gender. Feminism is a unifier, not a polarizer.

I just wish this didn't have to be explained. Again. Just like I wish admitting these frustrations wasn't met with, "Well it was those earlier feminists who give these ones a bad name!" Fuck that. In what capacity? Historical? Emotional? Do you even know? (They don't. 99% of the time they do not.) Feminists aren't a "certain way" as if we're a soriority. As if we're having a slumber party somewhere and our shinanigance woke up our chaparone. Feminism doesn't look that way. Or any way other than anybody who chooses to be a feminist. It looks like me, my Dad, my Mom, my friends, your friends, you, the guy you like (I hope), that person you really look up to. And yes, also that angry person I turn into when hear things like "Hobby Lobby" and name-calling in a bookstore. It also looks the version of me who makes jokes too.

And it is for all of us.

 

Tags: feminism, Hobby Lobby, rape culture, self help, women's rights

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