A Feminism For All

Wikipedia:

Feminism

Noun

  1. The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

  2. The women’s movement, the feminist movement, women’s liberation, female emancipation, women’s rights.

Urban Dictionary:

Feminism

Feminism is the radical notion that men are not people.

Feminism means different things to everyone, but ultimately the foundation of the entire movement rests upon the former definition you can see above. The latter definition comes from the online ‘Urban Dictionary’. Albeit the 3rd definition on their list, yet urban dictionary still accepts this as a reasonable explanation of the complex, multi-faceted, empowering movement that involves people of ALL genders. Why is the definition of Feminism even up for debate when it really is as simple as equality?

The answer to that rests in years of deeply embedded societal structures that aim to divide people into binary definitions of gender. By this division, sides are taken and thus oppositions are created. Typically, when teams are formed it is insinuated that a ‘winner’ & a ‘loser’ must be established. Here’s where history gets a bit fuzzy. Where exactly women started being written out of history is unclear; there is no specific fight we can point to that suggests that men were the winners - it just was. And so it went. For thousands of years women were sidelined whilst men wrote our history. I am sure, as we gradually uncover these invisible women, we will find that our predecessors were far more powerful and present than our history teachers taught us.

Feminism- a term founded in the 19th & early 20th Century, began as a legal battle in the aims to get Votes for Women. The 60s coined the ‘Second Wave Feminist Movement’, which explored sexual revolution and the emergence of ‘The Pill’, and thus each generation has discovered further ways to achieve greater gender equality. Some may see the work we do as an attack on traditional familial values which have supposedly ‘worked’ and shouldn’t be challenged… like women who choose not to have children; women who don’t need to be married to a certain name to gain recognition & power; sexual identities (such as those from the LGBTQQIA community) being celebrated instead of hidden; there are consequences for sexual/domestic abuse and women no longer submissively hand over power to the men = all achieved because of the Feminist Movement.

Ultimately, these changes will have been, and are, scary for some; how much can we blame men (#notallmen) for reacting poorly? It is our duty to show them that feminism benefits everyone, and that it isn’t a movement created to push men out and put women on top (unless it’s in bed - in which case, let us be on top ;) ). So, how does feminism benefit men, you ask? Here’s 10 ways it does:

  1. In 1970s America, the legal drinking age for men was 21, whilst the age for women was 18, implying men were reckless whereas women were responsible- the case Craig vs Boren made the legal drinking age 21 for all.  

  2. Single men in America didn’t have the right to claim dependent care deductions until the Moritz vs Commissioner case; one of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s many victories using the 14th Amendment to end gender discrimination in the law.

  3. Sex became more enjoyable for both genders as women began to play more of a role in it. Barriers were knocked down & stigmas lessened surrounding kinky sex.

  4. Just as equally, with the introduction of the pill, sex became a much less dangerous activity. Being able to enjoy sex knowing pregnancy will most likely not be a repercussion is a luxury we often forget once didn’t exist

  5. Rape law didn’t use to include the possibility that men could be a victim until feminists intervened and sent 160,000 emails to the FBI to pressure them to change their definition of rape to include men. They succeeded.

  6. Paternity leave now exists & is far more accessible to men as each year passes.

  7. The Civil Rights Movement would have taken far longer to succeed without the many women at the forefront pushing and persisting.

  8. With women sharing the household income from their own work, large amounts of pressure were taken off men’s shoulders - making them happier & far less stressed knowing the pressure to make money didn’t solely rest upon them.

  9. Feminism has forced the media & people worldwide to question the significance of Toxic Masculinity. By doing so, we have encouraged men to shed this toxicity in order for them to live more fulfilling lives by expressing themselves freely & without judgement. Whilst this is still an ongoing battle, it is at the forefront for essential change amongst the fight for equality of the sexes.

  10. Feminists are also opening up conversations surrounding mental health. As men in the UK are 3x more likely to commit suicide than women, it is clear that the reason behind this stems from the idea that men shouldn’t talk about their emotions from the fear of not seeming manly. Feminism aims to tackle this outdated idea in order for men to be able to express themselves and help prevent suicides amongst them.

This is just a handful of the ways in which feminism has been a catalyst for change that benefits all genders. If you just take a look every day, there will be reasons all around you - you just have to want to see them. But how do we make it accessible to all? We do so by not being discriminative; by listening to our opposers and opening up discussions that may initially be uncomfortable. We do so by not making feminism a competition; by accepting the flaws & imperfections that come along with all of our journeys & understanding that everybody can make mistakes. We do so by standing together & opening our arms to all of those around us.

Feminism shouldn’t be a war, it should be a given. End of.

Article by VERVE Operative & blogger Helena Burton-Jones

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