Women possess freedom to be unfeminist

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(Courtesy of Anton Bielousov)

“Feminist” seems to be a title most women label themselves today.

From the movement’s beginnings in the early 1920s to when it picked up momentum during the 1960s and 1970s, feminism has become a widely held and practiced ideology, especially among women.

The prevalence of feminism today causes many women to feel pressured into feeling and acting a certain way in order to promote their equality in society.

Often, I feel that, as a woman, the feminist ideology is forced upon me simply because of my gender.

Why is it that men aren’t expected to be feminists?

Some say that the feminist movement, which encourages female equality in the social, political and professional realms of society, has made enormous strides towards a more level playing field.

While complete gender equality has not yet been fully achieved, our situation is far better than that of the 1960s.

However, in being a woman myself and an outwardly inactive feminist advocate, I think it is necessary to give voice to the “unfeminist” female.

Many people mistakenly believe that all women must be feminists.

Clearly, it would make sense that a woman would want to advocate for her own gender’s equal standing in society.

However, the term “feminist” is a little more complex than that.

In answering the question as to whether I am feminist, my answer is usually that I am not.

This does not mean, however, that I promote the inequality of women or look to demean my own gender, but rather that I am not actively advocating for the perfect balance between the genders.

In fact, personally, I do not feel much discrimination and therefore, do not harbor disapproving feelings toward men and their supposed unwavering patriarchal power.

To me, society is no longer structured in a male-dominated sense, and while nothing is perfect, the progress that has been made is tremendous.

At Union, I am given the

same opportunities as men, as much agency to voice my own opinions and as much freedom to pursue my talent, in any field ranging from math to English.

Though my stance on feminism could be a result of my own particular life experiences, and while I acknowledge that others may not be as privileged, I disagree with women who, label themselves as feminist, denouncing any progress by the feminist efforts that have been made throughout history.

In comparing the landscape of gender equality between the past and today, I argue that our progress has allowed my generation to reap the many benefits of those feminists who advocated so willingly for future generations.

I, as well as other women today, am a product of a landscape.

I agree that efforts still need to be made in the areas of equal pay for example, but the discrimination is minor to me and not something to force down the throats of women that aren’t necessarily “feminist.”

What does it mean to be a feminist then?

Well, to some it means an outward portrayal of feminist ideals.

To others, it means to constantly wear a sexist lens when viewing a situation.

While I agree with the feminist movement in the effort to create an equal world, I refuse to play the role of the discriminated victim.

Surely there are narrow-minded men who live in the past, but society is far different than it was years ago.

I appreciate the work that active feminists do, and hope too that one day the world will in fact be equal. Until then, I am going to live my life not as a woman, but as a person.

Maybe if women stop victimizing themselves, then men will take them more seriously. Isn’t that what we want anyway?

14 COMMENTS

  1. Just because a situation is better than it used to be doesn’t mean that there aren’t still strides to be taken in regards to female equality. When I stop being told I’m making myself into a victim for striving for equal rights, then I’ll stop arguing. Your final lines are reminiscent of anti-feminist propaganda designed to dismiss feminist by gaslighting their arguments.

    Gaslighting is a form of emotional and mental abuse that twists the presentation of information to favor the abuser (in this case, the flawed elements of a society that benefits from gender inequality). I’m assuming you don’t know what gaslighting is as you clearly don’t understand feminism at its core.

    Women who speak out against feminism do nothing but hurt other women. You can stand against sexual assault without being personally being a victim of assault. You can speak against racism without being harmed by racial inequality. You can be a feminist without being a woman. The point is not to victimize ourselves but to speak out and work towards justice for those who are victimized daily. If you truly understood what feminism stands for you would understand that. I’m sorry society has lead you to think this way. I wish you the best.

    • I completely agree. The author doesn’t seem to realize here that there’s a difference between victimizing yourself and expecting some respect/pointing out when you are disrespected.

    • Nailed it. Thank you for bringing up gaslighting in regards to this woman’s response to the feminist movement (I was planning on doing the same as I was reading through her article).

  2. While I agree this article is problematic and misguided, I’m afraid it may represent a large portion of the attitudes held about feminism on our campus, as I’ve heard similar sentiments one too many times before. Instead of taking the time to lecture this one student over the internet, why don’t we take this opportunity to have a campus-wide discussion about feminism, inequality, and privilege? We can all express our opinions as well as listen to others in a respectful and open-minded way.

  3. As a feminist, I do not want to force the label of “feminist” on others. Identifying or not identifying as a feminist is an individual’s choice, whether female, transgender, or male. For decades the media has been predicting the death of feminism, but today, at least among some high visibility celebrities, feminism seems popular. Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, and Amy Schumer, for example, have come out of the closet as feminists, and the new film “Suffragette” is currently on screen. Yet, on our campus, I repeatedly hear: “I’m not a feminist but…[fill in the blank — men and women should have equal pay; reproductive health care should be readily accessible to women; paid parental leave should be an option for parents regardless of gender and type of job; etc.]? Yet, these are all feminist goals!

    Claiming a feminist identity recognizes the importance of the struggle for women’s equality before the law and for equality of opportunity. Since 1848, American women and men have been actively engaged in this uphill battle. I’m glad that the writer acknowledges the more recent feminist activism of the 1960s and 1970s. Title IX, one of the major pieces of legislation that feminists and their allies worked toward with success, has been instrumental in making it possible for female and male students to major in whatever they want to from “math to English” and from gender, sexuality, and women’s studies to engineering. Title IX also prompted colleges to offer a well-resourced women’s soccer team for women in addition to one for the men; the same is true of many sports. These are significant gains.

    Undoubtedly, as the author states, women’s status in the U.S. has improved dramatically in the past forty years. This is particularly true for those who are the most privileged in terms of socioeconomic class, educational level, and race-ethnicity. Is positive change but limited success sufficient? Most feminists today recognize the unequal benefit some women have gained; they are working cooperatively with other social justice advocates to improve women’s and transgender people’s status in society and in their day-to-day lives, not only in the United States but worldwide. That is why I call myself a feminist.

  4. I think you are colossally uninformed and ignorant. For one, men- decent men at least- are in fact expected to be feminists, or they really are not worth your time. Any man who is not a feminist is saying that he does not believe that you and he should be equal in every sense. Secondly, there is not gender equality even at Union. Ever noticed how fraternities can have alcohol and parties, but sororities are banned from doing so? That is the height of sexism. Women having alcohol boys constitutes a “brothel” supposedly. When girls at Union sleep around, they are often called “sluts”, “whores”, and other derogatory slurs, whereas Union boys are celebrated for the same actions. Ever noticed there is a Mr. Union competition, but there no equivalent for Union girls? The STEM majors at Union are dominated by men. I could honestly keep going for a while. The fact that you think that you are not disadvantaged as a woman at Union is just sad.

  5. What I got from this article: “I’m privileged enough that I don’t feel the effects of gender inequality (or am too blind to see them), so they must not exist.”

    Not being directly affected by inequality is no reason to perpetuate it. Although I am white I still support racial equality. Although I am a male I still support feminism. To oppose feminism, even through passive tolerance of the status quo as the author suggests, is to enable a society in which women remain second-class citizens.

  6. PRIVILEGE is when YOU think something is NOT a problem because it’s not a problem to you PERSONALLY. Olivia Estes, educate yourself. This article is disgusting and an embarrassment to Union students and females everywhere.

  7. Olivia Estes if you don’t think discrimination against women is an issue that deserves at the very least your awareness and acknowledgement, read Half the Sky which can educate you on feminism as a global issue. And then maybe just take like four seconds out of your day at a small liberal arts college populated by upper class white students much like yourself and google some of the current statistics on gender equality in America. It is astonishing that you actually feel you have the right to speak out on an issue which you are so clearly uneducated. Your personal experience as a woman has not been without inequality and the fact that you are blind to it makes me sad.

    • Couldn’t agree more with you here…Ms. Estes is very misinformed about the global status of women and this article is complete garbage.

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