The Feminist Prospect of Change
It occurs to me that part of the problem that people find with feminism is the absolute overhaul that feminism wants. Equality for everyone, responsibility for everyone, choice for everyone! There is a lot of fear in change, and it’s becoming very apparent.
For instance, despite our rousing success in making women and people of different ethnicity a bigger part of the political system, there are still other invasive problems that people do not want to address. Heterosexual people want the man to propose, and not the woman. How could we break away from such a cherished tradition, such a romantic ideal?
And why would we want to deny a woman her moment to feel beautiful or sexy? Not every comment is harassment! And why shouldn’t we worship a woman for bringing life into the world? She’s amazing for doing so!
These arguments are sound, but the idea behind feminism isn’t breaking the traditions that people want, but to deal with the underlying problems that come from those situations. Like the woman being considered property, or street harassment, or staring at a woman for nine months and denying her her very identity as anything but a breeder.
It’s also dealing with the denial of other types of lifestyles, like being gay, transgender, single, childfree, childless, or being considered less because you don’t fit into the beauty ideal, or being older, or having the wrong fashion. When women deny that they are feminist despite believing in the strength of women and the need for equality, they are trying to brush off the uncomfortable need for change that underlies all of our traditions. They are trying to break down the conversation of us needing to be inclusive of all people. It’s too much change, too much responsibility, too much freedom for them to handle, and they refuse to be a part of it.
People who deny being feminist might also have the false idea that feminists are not inclusive, or believe that they want to make inequality work for them, such as making men less a part of society or denying them their rights. Which might be true for some people who call themselves feminists and hide behind the label (another discussion for another time). But it isn’t the core of feminism. Feminism requires change for the better.
Change is uncomfortable and slow. But it might just be slow because no one wants to be uncomfortable.
But people should start being uncomfortable with the way that they live, and the exclusion and violence that happens in the world. They damn well had better be uncomfortable, because it isn’t right. It isn’t right for people to be raped as a weapon of war or as a sign of power, it isn’t right for people to be objectified and made less because of their lifestyle, and it isn’t right for people to be constantly told that they have to fit into a tiny square of acceptability or the world will hurt them.
Be responsible with your life. Don’t ignore what’s wrong with the world because you’re too uncomfortable to admit that it’s there. That denial will sit with you. You have to take action. And feminism is action.