I find myself defending feminism on a semi-regular basis. I defend it to men and women, mostly because people don’t realize that at the heart of feminism lies one goal: equality. It is not about overtaking or removing rights from men, it is about equality and empowerment among men and women. Women like Caitlin Moran for her humourous, feminist essays, Lena Dunham for her brilliance and confidence, Kate Winslet for her lessons on body image, Ellen Degeneres for her love and respect for all people, Tina Fey for breaking down barriers for women in humour, Zooey Deschanel for proudly stating she is a feminist from an early age, and Mindy Kaling for being seemingly effortlessly hilarious, intelligent, and saying what many women think but don’t have the guts to say are just a few of the feminism idols I look up to on a daily basis. And these are just the famous people – I come from a line of pretty strong women who are forward-thinking and don’t shy away from standing up for themselves, other women, and equality in this world.
Tonight, I may or may not (definitely did) get myself in a little tiff over this picture that my mom posted on her Facebook page:
My mom basically said that she found it offensive and degrading to fathers, daughters, and boys. Also, it “smacks of misogyny”. You don’t have to know me very well to know that I agree with everything she said.
It ended up becoming a little bit of an argument between myself and a friend of my mom’s who basically said that we were picking apart something to make it no longer humourous, that we didn’t get it, that we couldn’t get it because you can never fully understand the opposite sex, so on and so forth. I found his comments condescending in tone and entirely lacking in understanding of why this sort of list is problematic for both girls and boys.
I was a little snarky back, I admit but I had a hard time seeing how anyone would fail to see what my mom was saying when she posted the photo. After I had replied, mentioning how I did not enjoy being condescended to and that we clearly don’t agree on this issue seeing as I am a feminist who comes from a father who would completely disagree with this list, the man’s next comment was suddenly about my cover photo:
He said: “Interesting post of yours about not getting married and giving up because of an aversion to praying. Perhaps some people may find it funny, but I think it trivializes the importance of male female relationships, not to mention the importance of religion in seeking balance and happiness in life. Its a terrible example to set for young women as it implies that they should simply lie about, incapable and passive, waiting to see what other people make happen to them.”
I have two problems with this: One, we are not friends on Facebook and, maybe a little selfishly, feel that he had no right to go to my profile in search of something that he disagreed with to then tear me apart over. And two, I am far from a bad example for young women and he was suddenly shoving his own ideas on religion on me. I am not religious. I do not pray. I do not go to church. This cover photo, to me, is amusing simply because I hear Mindy Kaling’s voice and delivery of it and it makes me smile when I read it. Do I think I am going to die alone? No. Have I given up on finding someone? No. Have I ever lied about waiting to see what other people can do for me? No. And I am I incapable and passive? Fuck no.
I think that was the most offensive part of the entire argument to me – it was no longer about his lack of understanding of why those “rules” were an issue or his condescension from the start. I admit that I was snarky and sarcastic and he probably did not enjoy my tone, either. What he did, however, was take something that was technically private (as private as they can be on Facebook, I know, but when I haven’t added you as a friend well… You shouldn’t be creeping my profile and using it against me) and use a funny little quip from one of my favourite shows in order to paint me in a light that I have never, ever allowed myself to be.
It took everything in me to respectfully suggest that perhaps we should just agree that our senses of humour and opinions don’t match and that we should end the argument right there because let me tell you, I could have gone on.
Unfortunately one of the most difficult parts of being a feminist are moments like that – moments when suddenly you have become under attack for standing up for your gender, for equality, and for the possibility that maybe one day society will stop spewing sexist propaganda. Once this happens, you realize that the person on the other side has no idea that what they are doing is standing up for antiquated, misogynistic views because they really, often, do think that they are quite liberal and accepting of all things.
I try not to get in arguments on Facebook. I think it’s a little high school. I do share my opinions and I don’t shy away from the opportunity to spew my own feminist propaganda. I suppose you might think this is hypocritical but here is why it’s not:
Feminism is about equality. It is about successful people being successful and it not being surprising if that person is a woman. It is about having a right to your body and choices regarding it just as any person should have. It is about being paid what you deserve regardless of gender. It is about healthy images of both men and women in the media so that we can start winning the fight against body image issues, eating disorders, and diminished self worth. One day I might have a daughter. You might already have one. And I want her to see feminist propaganda from everyone – men and women, young and old. I might have a son. You might already have one. And I want him to see feminist propaganda from everyone – men and women, young and old.
Because I want them to know what equality actually means. I want them to know what it means to respect another person and to recognize a person’s worth beyond their appearance. I want them to be able to put something on their social media page about their personal hero and not have it turned against them in a misguided argument.
And I want them to be able to date without any parent feeling it necessary to intervene with threats of guns or violence of any sort, joke or not.
It was stated in the argument that my mom and I were failing to see the joke behind it because we don’t know what goes on in teenage boys’ minds so we don’t know the dangers of a daughter dating.
So I’ll leave you with this feminist propaganda: We know exactly what goes on in teenage boys’ minds because it’s exactly what goes on in teenage girls’ minds. Out of touch is what you would be if you thought for a second that teenage girls don’t think about sex or wonder what a boy looks like naked.
And I’m going to keep fighting the feminist fight until the day comes when everyone is able to comfortably and respectfully recognize sexual desire in women, young and old, without it being a revelation. Because yes, teenage boys can be oversexualized and easily stimulated but remember that raging hormones do not exist in the male body only.