[Désolée pour les non-anglophones, cette fois-ci je publie un article en anglais, car il s’agit en fait de ma réponse point par point à un article de blog US critiquant les féministes]
Here’s a different type of article today, as I decided to post on my blog what was originally a Facebook comment. A couple of days ago, a female Facebook friend of mine, from the US, shared this article entitled « I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists ». Coming back from the US, I found the article somewhat interesting, since it reflects some things I was able to witness while abroad. But I have to admit that I was mostly annoyed by the article, as many of the things it stated seemed to be inaccurate.
Usually, I probably would have ignored it. But you see, lately I’ve been pretty infuriated by things happening all around the world. On Saturday 21, I went to the Women’s March in Paris, and I was so happy to be there. A day later, however, I read that the « pro-life » demonstration that took place in Paris on the following Sunday had attracted almost 11,500 supporters, when the feminist event had only attracted around 7,000 (these were the numbers given by the police and reported by the French press). So yeah, I’ve been quite upset lately, and so I decided to try doing something about it.
I decided to read the article carefully and to comment it. It took quite a while to write, as I tried to comment on each idea. Since it took so much time and effort to write, I thought I might as well share it here, in case anyone would be interested in reading this.
As a disclaimer, I would like to say a few things. First, I’m a « self-taught » feminist, I have no degree whatsoever on gender equality, and so please feel free to tell me if you think what I’m saying is, well, inaccurate 🙂 I always try to be open to discussion when it comes to feminism, especially when talking with fellow feminists. Another thing I wanted to say is to ask you to keep in mind that this was a comment, so it is pretty « raw », and addressed to one person in particular. I think in the next couple of days, I might do a bit of research to back up some of the facts I use. Finally, there are two very important elements I did not address in my comment: how binary the article is, talking only about the female/male dichotomy, and how it does not mention the issues that women of color have to face. The only reason I did not address this is because I feel I am not the most entitled to do so, since I am a cisgender heterosexual white woman, but I do ackowledge it is a real issue, not only in the article but in society and feminist movements in general.
Oh and, you might want to read the original article before reading my answer…
Anyway, here it goes:
This is an interesting article that does make some good points. But I do think some things in it are pretty inacurate. I’ll try to explain, feel free to ignore my message because, trigger warning: I’m a feminist.
Of course men can have ideas and deserve respect. The issue I see here is the article does not acknowledge that there is not only one form of feminism. As in all movements, there are different schools of thought. Though the core of feminism is that women and men are entitled to equal rights, there are different ways of tackling the issues. One can consider it a pity that all women don’t simply unite to form one homogeneous movement, but that’s how it is (for many valid reasons).Secondly, as a foreigner I can tell you this article has a very US-centric point of view. Though this is understandable since it was published on an American platform, it is a little disturbing. Ok, maybe « women have never been more respected » (is that a sufficient reason to stop fighting to protect our fundamental rights?!). But do « women have more rights in the US than anywhere else in the world »? Really? What women are we talking about? I could tell you about women that cannot undergo an abortion because the cost is ridiculous in your country (and your new president will not make this easier for them), but then you might tell me that abortion is a sin. Ok then, let’s talk about rape. I’m pretty sure you would agree rape is wrong and that rapists should be punished, that women should have the right to be protected. Reality is pretty different in your country. Women are constantly shamed and blamed for being raped. Your laws fail to protect them and to punish the rapists (does the name Brock Turner sound familiar? and let’s not even mention all the rape cases that go completely ignored or unreported…). I’m not saying France, my country, is better. But I do know that there are countries where women are safer, for instance in Scandinavia. The US has not much to be proud of, honestly. Then, about the complaining because of the lack of women in sports. Sure, many women, probably a majority, are not interested in sports, and sure it wouldn’t make a good business to air only female sport competitions on TV. But the real question is *why* are women less interested in sports? The article seems to claim that it’s due to biological, « scientific » reasons. That’s simplistic. For one, I have read many articles that explains that the difference between women and men is not as striking as the article seems to believe. Testosterone, that hormone that makes men « manly », can sometimes be found in higher quantities in women than in men. So everybody has a different body to begin with, and the line between men and women is pretty blurry in some cases. Moreover, I have seen, many times around me (for instance at school), women that were way stronger than men. Maybe they were biologically different, but they also worked out more and developed a strong physical strength. Skinny and weak men exist too, of course (and that doesn’t make them « girls », by the way…). So the biological reason can’t hold up much. Back to my question, why are women less interested in sports? Not because they are fundamentally not built for it, but because they are brought up and conditioned that way. We all are conditioned to a certain extent. When you were a kid, did your parents give you a doll or a ball? If all little girls are given dolls, and not balls, when do they get to try a sport? Of course I’m exagerating a little, but you get the picture. Feminists (my type anyway) don’t want all women to turn into NFL players, they just want little girls to be given a chance to play ball if that’s what they want to do. One last thing about this paragraph; I agree with one thing, but again I think it is cultural. The being offended part. Before coming to the US, I had never witnessed so many people being offended for one thing for another, and it’s pretty annoying. Having to be politically correct all the time, always cautious about hurting others, it’s tireing and it’s one thing I did not like about the US. Though I do believe it is important to respect others and try not to hurt them, I also believe that « being offended » is not a sufficient argument in any discussion. If you are offended, well then explain to me why, and then we can discuss it. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe you are, but if you just say « shut up I’m offended », well then we will never be able to learn, and it’s a pity.
The article also mentions the concern in regard to money. Now the article does not try to use scientific arguments, and rather turns to history (…). Sure, historically, women are mostly new to many professional fields. But how is that a reason to not be a feminist?! If we just sat there and were content, if we women just said « oh really dear there’s not point in fighting, hey, we *are* better off than we were before », then nothing would ever change! The only reason women have better lives now (in the US and some other privileged countries) is because women have fought for it — as even the article points out: « Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it’s being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. ». So no, let’s not « stop the complaining ». Perhaps there is not need to constantly blame men or society, but hey, if things are wrong they need to be tackled, and yeah, that implies that one sometimes needs to complain. That’s how social change happens. If nobody ever complained, the US would still be a British colony, and how you would you like that?
Anyway, I only have two little things left to say. One: I really want to underline that the article really fails to acknowledge the different forms of feminism. I know there are some women that are prone to hating men. But see, I’m a feminist, and I also happen to love men. I have my own boyfriend whom I love more than I can even express, and whom I often need to rely on. I would also like to believe he doesn’t feel « castrated » by my feminism. I know many other feminists are the same way. Some are not but, hey, they are my « sisters » too; it’s ok to disagree.
The last thing I wanted to repeat one more time, is that the article really only looks at the issue from an American perspective. However, even if the US were the best place for women in the world, I believe that feminism has international ambitions. When I marched in Paris on Saturday, it was to defend women in the US, and in the world. Read about rape in India. About prostitution is some European countries. Read about women and little girls on different continents, in different societies, see how they are treated. And now think how strong we could be if, as women, we all united and fought to make the world a better place, for women everywhere. I’m pretty sure men would also benefit from this; I agree with the article on this point, we can certainly all live together in peace — but it takes time and effort, and today, I believe it takes feminism.
Thank you for taking the time to read. Please feel free to share your thought in the comment section. And thank you Solenne Lazare for allowing me to use your photo from the Women’s March in Paris, it was great to be able to go with you 🙂