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Dear Anti-Feminist Woman,
So, you say, “I’m a female, and I’m so over feminism” eh? Well, I’m curious. Were you over feminism when the ACA granted you (a woman) the right to not be charged more for health insurance than men? Up until the Affordable Care Act was passed, insurance companies were free to charge women more for their health insurance. Are you happy paying luxury taxes on your necessary feminine hygiene products, while things like Rogaine and Viagra are not taxed? What about paying more for things like razors and deodorant?
Still don’t think you need feminism? Okay, well let’s go back in time, and reflect upon our youth. Do you ever remember feeling like as a girl, you were forbidden from doing certain things? Was your brother, male cousin, or even your own father allowed to do things that you weren’t, such as be more independent? Did your male peers or relatives engage in dating at an earlier age than you, or were you prohibited from dating altogether?
Were you ever told you were “too smart” for being a girl? Simultaneously, were you ever told you were “dumb” or “stupid” because you were a girl? Perhaps you heard that, “Girls are not good at science or math”? Or that “there are no woman scientists or mathematicians or great female leaders”? If these women were ever mentioned in school, it was often brief, but mostly, it did not happen at all. Did older men ever make you feel uncomfortable, look at you in an odd way, or comment on your appearance and/or body?
Perhaps you haven’t experienced any of that. Does that mean you believe it does not happen to anyone else? Try something here. Take a step back from your own personal world, and look beyond what is happening in just your life.
Let’s get right to it; let’s address the deep, dark issue of human trafficking. Did you know there is more than just sexual slavery going on? What about labor trafficking? Maybe you have not been exposed to the harsh reality that slavery still exists on the fields from which our food is harvested from.
I have spent a great deal of time in undergrad and graduate school, researching the exploitation of agricultural workers, who live right in our own backyard. I have also spent a great amount of time fighting against the injustices that farmworkers face, and have spent many hours assessing farmworkers and their needs. In short, Florida is one of the top states for human trafficking. Does this not alarm you? Because if it does, that would make you a feminist. Why you ask? Well, while both men and women are farmworkers, women experience the added oppression of gender-based violence. Women are often harassed, coerced by withholding pay until they perform sexually, or raped, with no repercussions for the perpetrators, and no justice for the survivors. Does this not send shivers down your spine? Do you not feel empathy for these women? If you do, that makes you a feminist.
What about domestic violence? Have you, or anyone you know (regardless of gender), ever been a survivor of domestic violence? Maybe you are one of the lucky few, and believe me, there are few. I interact with a very diverse set of people as an assessment specialist, and most clients have experienced some form of abuse.
Let’s say you haven’t had to deal with abuse as a psychosocial stressor. Do you not acknowledge it happens to other people? Do you not think we should continue to fight for the most vulnerable people within our society? Children who experience abuse in their childhood grow up into adult survivors of violence. It is widely accepted, within the mental health and substance abuse fields, that many disorders classified in the DSM stem from history of trauma and/or abuse.
Notice how I did not mention gender differences in the paragraphs on abuse and trauma above. That’s because abuse and trauma are not exclusive to any gender. And, guess what? Feminists fight against all forms of injustice because patriarchy hurts men too. Toxic masculinity is to blame; so, we must talk about how the history of men, have shaped how the world views women. Which in turn, constructs society’s value of women, or femininity, as less than men; in addition, men who display more “feminine” aspects are discriminated against for not being “manly enough”. This includes the stigmatization of being a male victim of abuse and violence, especially sexual assault.
Therefore, let’s clarify something. Feminism is not the opposite of patriarchy; it is not women attempting to gain “dominance over men”. Feminists would never dare claim they want women to rule in the same ways patriarchy does. Feminism is not “anti-male”, and feminists do not “hate men”. Feminists also do not view all women as “weak” or “oppressed”; nor do feminists believe all men are “evil” or “rapists”. Feminists oppose the system of patriarchy, which is historically a system of social constructs created by powerful, privileged men, for men, at a time when women were known only as property. Patriarchy is so deeply ingrained in our cultures, societies, institutions, religions, and daily lives, that it is so often ignored, or unnoticed at all.
So, I must know; is that why you say, “I don’t need feminism”?
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