So, a blog post titled “33 Reasons to Be a Feminist” has been going around the internet and it is about time for us to look at those reasons and see if they are not only valid, but whether they make a case for feminism, or something else.
#1: Because this type of violence-glorifying and misogynistic commercials is not unusual and get to exist in our society without many reactions.
I’d argue that, though this as is a disgrace, it is not misogynistic. The only thing going on is that the man is holding the girl’s arm down, but it does not seem as if she is disliking it or is being discomforted in any way. It is dangerous to read our ideologies into everything we see. What is disgusting about this ad is the amount of sexualization going on. By the way, if I may venture a guess about why someone would assume this ad was misogynistic, it is also very dangerous to turn sex into power.
In those who believe in love (admittedly in modern philosophy those people are few, but it does not mean they are not right), sex is (or should be) participation in the other as other, willful self-giving to the other. If we start interpreting a touch, a look, etc. as establishing dominance, then we should be falling into the same absurdity of those medievals who said God wanted you to only use the missionary position, except that we would fall on the opposite extreme. Let sex be sex, let us not stick our ideologies into the deed itself and leave positions to the discretion of the partners themselves.
#2: Because women don’t get to decide over their own bodies. (Picture says, “77% of anti-abortion women are men. 100% of them will never be pregnant.”)
I think it rather intriguing that abortion has been, recently, laid out as a women’s issue exclusively. It is quite clear to anyone with half a brain that abortion, whether it is permissible or not, is a human rights issue, because it affects both the sexes. If it is not permissible, i.e. if what is aborted is living human beings, then it is quite obvious why it is a human rights issue, because babies of both sexes are aborted. However, even if it is permissible, because the fetus (or whatever else you may want to call it) has as its cause the sexual union between a man and a woman and, therefore, a man is just as responsible as a woman for it.
I do not know a statistic of how many pro-abortion leaders are male (let’s see, Harry Reid and our Vice-President come to mind), but I cannot say that I am surprised that there are so many male anti-abortion leaders. It is worthwhile to say that, given how they believe that male and female babies are being killed in abortion, they have a perfectly legally consistent position. Imagine if a group of Christians was protesting against the Holocaust, would it make any sense to say that, since they would not run the risk to go to a concentration camp because they were not Jewish they did not have the right to protest the existence of concentration camps? Of course not and the same logic stands for this case also.
That said, feminists need to understand that abortion has done a great service to cowardly men throughout the world. There are many women who walk into the halls of Planned Parenthood that are being sent there from their abusive boyfriends or husbands because they do not want to take responsibility for the baby they had just as much responsibility as their partner for bringing into the world. In other words, abortion is doing a great service to people antithetical to the feminist movement.
Another thing that bothers me is the fact that there are many sex-selective abortions in the US. There are cases where an abortion is sought for the sex of the baby, most usually because it is female. Now, I might be wrong, but there are two possibilities here as to why it could happen. One, the mother herself does not feel happy about having a daughter, which is highly unlikely. Two, she is being pressured by whoever to kill the girl inside her womb in favor of a male child. You could see how feminists might have a problem with this. Heck, you could see how any person would have a problem with this, seeing how an imbalance between men and women brings societal problems for the next generation. Of course, this is one of the many reasons why groups like Feminists for Life exist, whom I would argue are true feminists today (incidentally, they are usually more kind and friendly and level-headed than radical pro-abortion feminists today). Anyway, you think I don’t have any evidence that this is happening? Well, see for yourself, here.
Lastly, it is unfair to phrase this issue as “women deciding over their own bodies” and to say that people who are against abortions (I find that keeping is simply “pro-abortion” and “against abortion” avoids all the pit-falls of using names that stir up emotion) are denying their right to decide over their bodies, because the people who are against abortions have as their basic premise the idea that the thing aborted is not, in fact, part of the woman’s body, but a distinct person with a distinct DNA. If the contrary is proven, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with abortion or with women making decisions for their own bodies.
#3: Because women are constantly sexualized and objectified, while men get credit for their skills and professions.
Let’s be honest for a second, though the sexualization of culture we see today is morally and aesthetically repugnant, the knife cuts both ways. Men and women are both sexualized, though I have no problem saying that women are, perhaps, sexualized more. Consider, for example, the movie 300 and the decision to have the Greeks fight basically naked with perfectly sculpted bodies. G. K. Chesterton says that it is quite clear that our culture is over-sexualized from the very fact that there are strippers (of both genders) that, basically, make a living out of sexual objectification. Consider if you went to a place where they rolled out a big dish that was covered and slowly pulled back the thing covering it to the crowd’s wild jubilation and the raining down of sweaty $1 bills, would you not consider that crowd to be in need of therapy?
I am sorry, but I have to hold my ground here, there is sexual objectification both ways and it is despicable.
#4 and #5: The recent Facebook scandal about women breastfeeding/charts of the female anatomy being not allowed to be posted, whereas groups advocating and romanticizing rape being protected.
Is what those young boys are doing on Facebook wrong? By God, it is. Should they be banned and prosecuted? By all means, Facebook is protecting them as a choice, they don’t have to guarantee First Amendment rights to their users (I am pretty sure, but not certain of this). That said, to say that Facebook controversies are a reason to be a feminist is downplaying feminism as such.
#6: Because 97% of rapists never have to spend a single day in jail.
I’d love to have had some kind of a source for this statistic, so that I could look into the intricacies of what it said (statistics can be hard to analyze), but if it is true, I think this is a very sad occurrence. However, rape, much like abortion, is not a women’s issue, but a human issue. Men as well as women need to have a very clear stance against sexual assault of any kind and to say that women should be the only ones being outraged by this statistic is, in fact, male chauvinism, though I understand that the author did not intend it as such. Nonetheless, ideas have consequences.
#7: Because model agencies are scouting models outside of anorexia clinics.
This one seems viable and I am all for women and men alike taking a stance against the media-sanction standard for beauty these days, but to reduce feminism to simply protecting the outer image of the woman seems, to me at least, a reduction that does not reflect correctly on the work of feminists to this day.
#8: Because women are being discriminated against in the workplace because they have children or may have children in the future.
I perfectly agree with this one. This is perfectly consistent with the job that feminists have been doing throughout the last century and it is the duty of both men and women today to keep up that work. I have no problem standing up for the rights of women, but especially for the rights of mothers, since I see that their reputation is disrespected far and wide in today’s culture. Sadly, many radical feminists are somehow uncomfortable when it comes to speaking about the esteemed place of mothers in our society.
#9: Because women still make less money for doing the same job as men.
I know that this has always been a hot-button issue. I think that we’d have to investigate on a case-by-case basis on this one. I will not deny that this happens in many places, however, many places have amended their ways.
#10: Because there are parts of the world where women get punished after being sexually assaulted.
I have to disagree here. Classifying yourself as a Feminist so as to believe that you have actually done something for these poor women does not help anyone other than your own ego. If someone feels passionate about these women, then let them help them and, I should mention here, all the great women who have done much to help women from other countries and other cultures be treated with basic human dignity. However, believing that calling yourself a Feminist so as to stand in fake solidarity with this women is nothing that alleviating one’s own discomfort and feeding one’s own ego without doing anything to help these women who need help so desperately.
#11: Because there are actually people who think it’s not rape if the person is sleeping.
That is true and that is sad. However, rape does not only affect women, so this is also not a women’s only issue.
#12: Because 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
I believe (and hope) that this statistic is conflating rape and sexual assault together. Sexual assault can be defined as any kind of unwanted sexual contact, whereas rape is defined as forceful penetration. As I said, I hope that it is not true that 1 out of 6 American women has had to deal with either attempted rape or rape in her lifetime. That said, I think that expecting only women to be outraged at such a statistic is to say that only women need be concerned with such statistic, which I don’t think is true. This should make men and women alike cringe.
#13: Because we live in a society that teaches women to be careful not to get raped, instead of teaching men not to rape.
I think that both approaches are very important. Of course, it is very important that men understand that no means no and that doing otherwise carries grave consequences, on top of rape being one of the few things which is intrinsically evil no matter what the circumstances or motives may be. That said, we teach that whenever a car collides with a pedestrian, it is always the car’s fault, but nonetheless, we teach pedestrians to exercise caution when crossing the street. To tell women to be vigilant against rapists is not to say that women have any fault in being raped (to say such a thing is a logical absurdity), but that they, knowing that there are crazy, deranged, and genuinely evil people out there, should be aware of what’s going on around them. I do not think that this somehow disrespecting women in any way.
#14: Because it is more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in modern conflict.
I’d submit the same logic as #10 for this one.
#15: Because we want women’s bodies to be left alone and not a constant subject for discussion, disrespect, abuse, and objectification.
Once again, I totally agree. However, it is often women that buy magazines that discuss these same problems (I do not think that many men are into gossip magazines, but I may be wrong. That said, it is important to take into consideration that sometimes those pictures are leaked by celebrities themselves, because “no publicity is bad publicity.” I hate the whole culture around celebrities today and find the scrutiny under which these people are placed repugnant, but I cannot deny that there is some people who willingly look for the spotlight as well. This problem, however, has an easy solution, namely that women should boycott gossip magazines and other smut, like Cosmo and media would soon get the message.
#16: Because we need to change the patriarchal picture of men as an aggressive being who cannot control his desires.
I think that this is more of a men’s issue than a women’s issue, to be perfectly honest. I notice that, far and wide, men today have lost the understanding of what is means to be a man is and I’d assign some part of this blame to the fact that many males growing up today to not have a good role-model to teach them how to be a good man. That said, I do not see how this is a patriarchal picture, since most men who would argue that they can’t help it are usually violently opposed to tradition and especially to authority, especially paternal authority.
#17 is a reference to the recent scandal at Steubenville
I think I have mentioned in reference to other points that rape should outrage men and women in the same way and with the same frequency.
#18: Because a woman is raped every 14 seconds in South Africa.
Once again I submit the logic of #10 for this point.
#19: Because sexism in the shape of a joke is not any less offensive or disparaging.
This is still not a women’s only issue (I think this way of thinking has been treated in previous points).
#20: Because victims of rape are too often distrusted. 54% of sexual assaults are not reported to the Police.
Once again, I think it is unfair to make rape a women’s-only issue.
#21: Because every 9 seconds a US woman is assaulted or beaten.
Same as the point above.
#22: Because “This is Why Indian Girls Are Raped” on Facebook has 1768 too many likes.
I agree, I think I’ve made my point about this on #6 and #7.
#23: Because approximately 3 million girls are victims of female genital mutilation every year.
Another point that falls under the logic of #10.
#24: Because there are approximately 2 million victims of sex trafficking each year. 85% of them are women.
Sex trafficking is a very serious issue in the modern world. That said, it is most basically a human issue (from the very fact that both men and women are abducted. In fact, yours truly had a very close brush with this issue while abroad). In addition, just saying one is a feminist does not help these women in the least, what we need is concrete action.
#25: To spread awareness and knowledge about what feminism works for. Equality. Everyone who has a mother, sister, daughter, son or a friend would want them to have respect and rights, right?
I definitely agree with much of what this says, however, I have to make a few corrections. First, there are some points made in this very article that are antithetical to womanhood. Second, it is important to understand a premise that much radical feminism shares with male chauvinism, namely that, since men and women are different one must be better than the other. Of course, this is the premise that fuels contemporary feminists to say that women can never be equal to men unless men are castrated (which is male chauvinism, because it says that females are born less-than-equal to men and that men need to be relieved of one of their biological components in order to be equal to women), or even this picture:
The Pill:Woman’s source of Strength
which argues that women are weak without this magical pill, who suddenly makes them worthy of consideration. I could be nice to people who advocate such things, but in the name of Feminism, I cannot. These people are the new male chauvinists and it is quite sad that a lot of times female mouthpieces are used to spread their agenda.
The truth of the matter is that men and women are different, however, that that should not invite a comparison as to who is better. On the other hand, that means that men and women are the same and that there are some things that only men can do and some things which only women can do. Feminism, so defined, is indeed worthy of much more attention, especially in this society.
#26: Because this is a real commercial for American Apparel. (the picture shows the male version of the shirt being modeled on a fully dressed man, whereas the female version is modeled on a woman who is only wearing a bikini bottom and the buttons of the shirt are opened)
I agree, a lot of clothing stores seek to make unwarranted sexual connections in order to ween their customers into buying their products. Our society needs to be cleansed from such advertisements. That said, similar advertisements with over-exposed men can be easily found as well.
#27: Because domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings, and rape combined.
This is not a women’s-only issue (much like rape).
#28: Because in 31 states if a woman has a child as a result of rape, her rapist can sue for custody and visitation rights.
I find this absurd and wonder if the rapist’s ability to sue for custody is only there as a case of legal thoroughness. I’d find it uncanny if any court, anywhere in the US, would ever consider giving any custodial benefits to someone who played a role in the life of a child through rape, but I digress. Either way, it is not enough to call one’s self a Feminist to solve this issue, rather, concrete steps so that this loophole is closed should be taken.
#29: Because we need to be aware of the sexism that surrounds us and saw no to it.
Agreed, if only we change “sexism” into “sexualism.” The sex-appeal that many vendors for a myriad of products embrace for both sexes is absolutely disgusting.
#30: Because we need to change the way women are being portrayed in computer games, etc.
I’d submit the logic of the point above for this one, too.
#31: Because female fetuses are being aborted in China, because girls are not wanted.
First, I think that this point, too, applies to #10.
That said, I think it comes into direct contradiction with #2, unless abortion is, actually, the killing of a human being, because often times, in China, women are themselves deciding to abort little girls in hopes of having a son in the future. Either abortion kills babies and little baby girls are being killed in China, or abortion is a woman deciding about her own bodies and all that’s going on in China is women exercising their right to their bodies, but not both.
#32: Because women who are seen, who stand up for their rights and express their opinions often get threatened and hated.
This one is very true. One of my best friends, upon publicly showing her pro-life convictions, has received more than a few threats and has had her posters and displays vandalized continuously. Yet, while the two of us were designing a new poster (because people who marginalize her are in the administration as well as in the student body), she had absolutely no qualms about putting her personal email contact on it, knowing that the hate-mail would flow like rivers onto her inbox (luckily we found a different solution in the end, but it makes her conviction no different). Sadly, it is often women who do not share the same beliefs that threaten and hate other women. Of course, this does not let men off the hook. There are many that I have dealt with who understand just how much they need to own up to and how much they’d need to man up without things like abortion, so they’re rightly upset because their niche is being taken away. Well, so be it.
#33: Because three men in Sweden walked free after raping a girl with a glass bottle until she started to bleed.
Don’t even get me started about the legal system of Scandinavian countries. That said, I think multiple points I’ve made before apply to this point, too.
In conclusion, Feminism is often misconstrued and misunderstood in today’s world. I find myself rather inadequate to speak on the issue, so I would encourage anyone who wants to find out more to visit sites like Feminists for Life, etc. and decide for themselves.