Feminism is Not Against Men – Labour Article
The feminism movement is unequivocally growing, with support for women’s rights constantly increasing. I am sure everyone reading recognises the term ‘feminism’ but naturally, this will evoke different feelings in people through our individual interpretation of its message and intentions. So while more and more people are labelling themselves as a feminist (myself included), there is another side in which people refuse to identify as feminist because they see it as being against men.
While I don’t want to deliberately hush anyone’s opinion, the latter is not true. Feminism is not against men at its core. This is simply a false narrative that needs to change if the real aims of feminism are to be achieved.
From its inception, feminism has always been about the people versus the system of oppression. It was never intended to pit men and women against each other.
The ‘first wave’ of feminism, beginning in the late nineteenth century, largely focussed on suffrage. The New York Seneca Falls Convention 1848 was one of the earliest feminist rallies with hundreds promoting equality for women and universal suffrage. This demand for the women to gain the right to vote was perhaps surprising at first but it was never an attempt for women to overpower men. It was merely an attempt to place women on an equal footing in at least one area of their lives.
Today, many would argue we’re in the third wave of feminism. Beginning in the 1990s, this wave intends to destabilise social constructs surrounding gender, including “universal womanhood” to name just one. So whereas the previous waves were more focussed on achieving equality on a more legal level, the third wave focusses more on social change, encompassing minority groups that were previously neglected and placing a focus on intersectionality. The aim now is to cause a societal shift away from social constructs and stereotypes of the woman being the main caregiver, a trophy wife, or merely the assistant and never the boss.
In my opinion, this wave is incredibly important for women to be fully accepted as equal in wider society. These outdated, false constructs underline inequality and it can never be fully eradicated whilst these still exist.
However, many see this third wave as the most harmful branch of feminism. There’s an argument that it’s now gone too far, so any positive intent is replaced with negative connotations of hatred and harm. Why? Humans naturally don’t like change or adjustment. This may seem like a rather basic argument, but it actually forms a great deal of the hatred towards feminists. Justifiable demands are now seen as going too far. In reality, they are only scraping the surface of women’s rights.
When people follow this false narrative, they are confusing feminists with misandrists. There is a huge, salient difference! A misandrist is “a woman who hates men or believes that women are better than men”. Even below this definition in the Cambridge dictionary, it is emphasised that being a feminist does not make you a misandrist. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule but it certainly isn’t the norm. Not to mention that men can be feminists too – anyone can!
A lot of the time feminism does directly focus on female oppression because there is arguably a lot more work to do here in terms of moving away from the patriarchy and societal standards. There have been years, centuries even, of society subconsciously digesting false gender norms and stereotypes. Reversing this effect will take a lot. But this does not mean feminists are ignoring men’s issues.
In recent years especially, there has been an increasing awareness of unfairness towards men and, in particular, male mental health and suicide. Feminists, for the most part, recognise the importance of these issues and are actively working to improve them. As a feminist myself, I recognise male mental health as one of the most pressing issues on both the feminist agenda and societies. It may just appear that feminists prioritise more issues of female inequality because there is inherently a lot more of it.
Ultimately, the narrative that ‘feminism is against men’ is false. It was written only to protect oneself from necessary change and the reversal of societal norms and a move away from the patriarchy. If you still support this, I don’t see how you can support equality simultaneously. Fighting against this narrative takes a toll on the greater fight against the patriarchy and inequality on the whole.
Everyone needs to realise that feminism is fighting for equality for all genders. It is the people versus the system of oppression. It is not one versus the other.
Written by Chief Labour Writer, Abi Clargo
Point of Information
Feminism Helps (Hu)mankind – A Liberal Response
With Abi, I am proud to call myself a feminist. To reiterate: feminism is not about attacking men, but rather the toxic masculinity that constrains men (and needless to say, women) in the first place.
In fact, patriarchy is killing men rather than helping them. In particular, the toxically masculine stereotype that men must be emotionally restrained is lethal. It reinforces the negative stigma against male mental health. Not only does this make it difficult for men to open up about their emotions, but in many places, it has constrained talk about mental health altogether. This leads many to be in denial of the need to even seek help, convinced that such a move is unnecessary or ‘effeminate’. Even worse, it can stop men from reaching out to other guys, to their own friends, preventing many from gaining the support they really need.
How many more men must suffer needlessly to enforce harmful masculine mindsets?
Third-wave feminism firmly stresses the human dignity of both man and woman. It challenges the confining constructs of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ to allow human beings to express themselves as true individuals. Whether you enjoy football or theatre, whether you love men, women, neither, or both – what should matter is the passion behind it, not whether it conforms to outdated ideas of ‘manliness’ or ‘femininity’. Individual dignity is what counts, not the societal norm.
I speak from experience. Growing up in a country where feminism was laughed off as a destructive Western idea saw untold harm to both its men and women. Men were turned into animals in their fights for dominance, whilst women’s rights were daily ignored and trod upon. Depression and anxiety were rife with no outlet for coping. Neither men nor women were the victor in this society.
As Abi notes, feminism demands a lot. It asks that we challenge our subconscious biases. Yet, being true to yourself and your feelings takes a much greater deal of strength than conforming to stereotypical tropes. It asks, in short, for mutual human respect. Is this too much to ask?
Written by Chief Liberal Writer, Frank Allen
We should all be egalitarians not just feminists – A Conservative Response
I thank Abi for writing such an important piece and she makes some really interesting points that must be taken into consideration. The overall picture to take away from this should be that we should all be egalitarians. Unfortunately, traditionalists will always linger in society.
Our society should be proud that we have progressed so much to change and to be more inclusive. Stereotypes will be forever present but luckily our generation has made an effort to stamp this out and recognise that equality is absolutely key.
This might sound extremely controversial but, I sincerely believe that the terms feminism and masculism should just be scrapped altogether and replaced with egalitarians. We all have the same aim to make people equal so why not scrap these terms and move forward.
Mental health is even more prevalent with the current health crisis. So we should not just focus on men’s mental health but also on women’s mental health. Previous articles have raised concerns about body image and traditional perceptions. All this should be brought under one big umbrella and fought against in unison.
Mutual human respect will always be sought after. But individuals will always cause havoc and step in the way of progress. I sincerely believe society is improving but we must unite as egalitarians.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Max Jablonowski
I’m Abi! I am a liberal, political enthusiast from the Welsh valleys. Since I was young, I have been captivated by politics. I used to spend so much time watching the morning news before school, and have paid close attention to political campaigns for as long as I can remember. It was a lot later that I decided I wanted to pursue politics academically. Now, I have just finished my second year studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Exeter.
Politics was a completely taboo subject for me as a young boy. Having lived almost all my life in Brunei and Qatar – two very strict, theocratic autocracies – I was cautious to keep my opinions well-guarded. The smallest negative remark about either country’s governance, for example, would’ve meant deportation for my family and I. Any non-approved political activity, no matter how naïve, had to be kept a secret. It was best not to question at all.
I am Max Jablonowski, a second year student studying French and Politics at the University of Exeter, and I am about to go on my year abroad to Paris to complete two internships. I was Academic Events Manager of the Politics Society in Exeter and I was privileged enough to organize events such as Question Time, co-host the 2019 General Election Hustings with MWEXE and host the Rt. Hon. James Brokenshire MP, the current Minister of State for Security.