Sunday, January 29, 2017

Feminism: It's Not Just About You

Feminism is Not Just About You.

In the past few months, I find myself continually discussing the idea of equality, and what it means to be feminist.  As an upper middle class white woman, I hear constantly this idea of women “playing the victim” or creating a problem and sense of inferiority where none exists.  This on the whole is a disheartening and frustrating view to hear, but it becomes more so as I realize that the only women who could really possibly believe this are other women like myself of extreme privilege. 

I have to say to these women, you’re right.  I personally do not face adversity every day because of my gender.  I have surrounded myself with people and organizations that empower women and see me as an equal, and more, as an individual.  I have grown up with two parents that have always fully and completely reinforced an idea of equality and individual strength between my brothers and me. I not only had the opportunity to go to college, but the ability and freedom to choose which college I wanted to attend.  I, of course, have had to deal with street harassers and the occasional man or teenage boy that makes sexist and demeaning jokes, or calls me “honey” or “baby doll”.  In truth, I have lead an incredibly and wonderfully privileged life. But this isn’t about me. 

I recently read an article titled “Yes, I am Equal.  I’m sorry You’re offended by Women Who Lack A Victim Mindset”, which attempts to explain in every way why feminism and this women’s movement are unnecessary and based on certain women’s need to avoid responsibility.  The author explains in her article,

In psychology, someone who has a victim mindset is said to have a martyr complex. These individuals seek out ways to victimize themselves in order to feed a psychological need or a desire to avoid responsibility. Unfortunately, the modern day feminist movement seems to be catering to these types of individuals.

Read the full article here: "Yes, I Am Equal.".    The author systematically goes through what she sees as being the feminist movement’s biggest causes and calls for action, and explains why, in her opinion, these are no longer things that need to be addressed.  While I disagree with ninety-nine percent of what she said, she does accidentally raise one of the biggest issues with “white” feminism: this idea that it’s all about you.  Inherently there will be people who disagree on certain points in every movement.  I understand that.  But we cannot deny that, although I as an individual, am accorded privilege and a sense of “equality” (whatever that word may mean), I am ONE incredibly lucky person.  The women’s march and feminism in general are not about how one person feels that they are not a victim.  It’s wonderful that there are women who feel strong and safe and fulfilled, but this movement is not about you.  It is about fighting for the marginalized.  The women who do NOT have equal opportunity, equal pay, equal consideration, or equal rights.  It’s about fighting for every shape, color, class, religion, and gender of woman. The author of the “Yes, I am Equal” article even states, that she applauds feminists who are fighting for a group of people who are legitimately being oppressed” implying that this only exists outside of the United States, but what she fails to address is that she has no basis for what oppression means or looks like to each woman.  NO ONE should ever have to feel unequal.  NO ONE should ever have to feel oppressed.  NO ONE should ever feel that they have to fight for rights that have been denied them.  It is the responsibility of those of us who are in a place of privilege, those who feel safe and equal, to stand up for those who are not.  Because there are women all over the United States who are not treated as first class citizens, who are pushed to the side and denied the rights that men and women in other classes of life are given freely.  I march and I fight for the rights of women who do not feel safe and equal, who ARE still victims of a system that is failing them.