“Why isn’t Feminism just called equalityism if it’s for equal rights?”
This is a question that gets brought up an awful lot in conversation and discussion with friends and family when talking about the validity of Feminism in the 21st Century.
I never had an answer for this question, and used to always agree and say “Indeed, I concur, why don’t we make it more ‘inclusive’ and refer to the movement and equalism?”
Though the more I have read essays by Feminist theorists, watched Ted Talks and generally read up on all different types of oppressed groups movements, It’s become more coherent to me why it is called ‘Feminsism’ and not ‘Humanism, or Equalityism’.
This question needs to be answered in two sections:
1) Why people, and in particular men see the word ‘Feminism’ as a direct translation of ‘Fuck men and all penises’ rather than ‘Gender equality for men and women’ which is what it actually means.
2) Why Feminism won’t change it’s name, even though some people can’t handle it beginning with ‘fem’.
1 ) Feminism doesn’t imply ‘females hate men’ – that’s an inference made by men and women who believe the stereotype that feminists hate men already.
Feminists hate the patriarchy– that’s different to men. Men who endorse the patriarchy however, yeah they’d hate feminists because the patriarchy endorses the domination of women by men.
The problem with the stereotype of the ‘Feminist’ as someone who hates men, is that it strengthens and gives a voice to a false narrative that destroys the feminist cause. The feminist cause is pro-equality, not anti-men.
This works in men’s favour too- we don’t want to always have priority over who gets custody of kids in divorce battles in court: men, hello, that’s an injustice that will be abolished with the support of feminism! We don’t WANT to be thought of as just mothers whose purpose in life is to have kids. We are not reproductive machines. Men will benefit from Feminism, so the stereotype that we hate men needs to stop being spread as click bait to rile people up.
2) Why is it not called Humanism then?
Because females are the oppressed minority here, and Feminism is advocating for women’s rights so Women can be brought up to where men are in society. It’s the same reason, as shown by vlogger Steve Shives in his fabulous short video on why it’s called Feminism and not Humanism, that it’s called the Gay rights movement; we want to give gay people the same rights that heterosexual people already have.
“You attain gender equality by advocating for the rights of the underprivileged gender.”
Feminism means: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”
Gay Rights means: “the legal and civil rights of homosexuals, especially the right to be treated without discrimination.”
Vegans: “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
None of these movements promote themselves over others, or say they are better than others. That is an anxiety generated by those who think they are ‘threatened’ by these movements.
Women should have equal rights. Gay people should have equal rights. Black people should have equal rights. Animals should be treated humanely.
The only reason why these movements exist is due to the fact that at the moment, there is an incredible amount of injustice going on.
The reason I have included Veganism in this list, probably controversially, is because I think all living beings deserve compassion and empathy. I think that the idea that to be a vegan or vegetarian is ‘weird’ and will make you ‘sick’ and ‘pale’ and ‘skinny’ is directly linked to the false narrative that compassion ‘disables you’. That in someway if you are caring you are disabled. This feeds into the discussion of why men are expected to hide their feelings, and ‘man up’, that somehow to care is unmanly. Compassion has been branded as a female trait, sensitivity has been awarded to females and wanting to keep animals from cruelty has been deemed ‘sentimental’.
This can be seen in the fact that the caring roles such as nurses, teachers, care-givers are all seen as womanly and lesser than the roles more habituated by men.
There are links between all these movements, so though feminism is for equality of the sexes, it also gives males back their ‘rights’ to feelings and allows them to enjoy a tofu burger on a BBQ without losing ‘man points’.
Compassion is not specific to females.
We need Feminism to raise awareness of the false stereotypes that gender inequality brings, but Feminism instead has been branded falsely with the fact it ‘hates men’.
Until people see the compassion behind the movements listed above, they will only see the anxieties generated by the prominent groups who feel that they will in some way be threatened if the minorities attain equal rights.
Feminism is called feminism because Females are the oppressed group here. We are not saying we are better than men, rather we are saying the opposite: that in some aspects we are still treated like lesser beings with lesser rights- men should be grateful they don’t need a movement to fight for their rights.