99 Problems

Contrary to the tired trope about “mothers, wives and daughters” that generally gets thrown around in arguments about why men should care about women’s rights, men should be feminists because the lives of the women and girls they have never met and will never meet matter. Particularly in a culture that does not encourage men to cultivate or express empathy, this thing of giving a basic shit about people you don’t know is itself a kind of radical act. But Berlatsky’s point that “misogyny is a cage for everyone” also captures another reason that I think men can and should identify as feminists. Because of course men should be outraged at the violence experienced by women and girls and the systems that dehumanize them, but framing men’s relationship to feminism exclusively as men’s relationship to women’s status in the world erases the fact that men are also harmed by patriarchy, toxic masculinity and entrenched cultural and institutional sexism.” 

I remember reading a quote once, which stated that you should always try to call people by their proper name – by what they want to be called. Labels arent always important, as we are told on a daily basis by the media, by rom-coms and by our peers – but calling someone by their proper name or “label” is. Names help us identify ourselves, not as an “other” but as a part of something, of a community. If we are transgender, it is important that we are recognized as transgender and called by the proper pronouns. If we are queer, if we are bisexual, if we are a person of colour  – how we identify is important, and should be important to the people we identify with.

When it comes to women however, it becomes a little more difficult, because the names that are chosen to identify us often arent the names we choose for ourselves. They are terms which are filled with misogynistic meaning, which turn us either into angels or whores, which turn words into shackles and re-inforce stereotypes. Our identifiers are often manipulated, and their meaning warped – nothing more so than the term “feminist” which has a meaning closer to “normal human” than “man hater” as it is often depicted in mass media, to the point where Emma Watson in her UN HeForShe launch speech had to actively “invite” men to become feminists.

Equal female rights are not a female problem, they are a global, human issue. We shouldnt be labelling ourselves as feminists, we should be identifying as humans, with the term “feminist” assumed.

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2 thoughts on “99 Problems

  1. What you are saying about being assigned a label and qualities is especially pertinent… feminists choose to value all humans equally, however it isn’t until someone comes along and sticks a label borne of misinterpretation on them that it is viewed negatively. We need to change these perceptions of ‘man-hating’ and other such ridiculous ideas so that the ‘f word’ can be used correctly and assigned in a positive way!

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