Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting is making headlines after her recent interview on Red Book Magazine. The interview contained this question, asking if she, one of the highest paid women on US tv, considers herself a feminist.
This is a collection of young women taking selfies with bits of paper proclaiming the reasons why they don’t need the very thing that has allowed them, among other things, the freedom to express their views. It’s not the only website dedicated to the idea.
I’d love to address each and every post on this website. I’d like to write to each of these (mostly) young women who’ve submitted a picture. I don’t want to verbally bash them for their views; I’d like to open a dialogue and ask them what they think feminism is. Because as far as I can tell- they don’t really know.
“I don’t need feminism because I don’t want my daughters growing up around slutty feminists”
Really? Gosh, I do. “Slutty” isn’t contagious and is a pretty subjective term and really- a woman who has sex with whoever she wants to is okay by me. Who am I to tell anyone how they can use their body? A woman who isn’t afraid to openly reject society’s rule that says women who sleep around are “slutty” but men who do the same are just doing what men do- yeah, I’m fine raising my daughters around women like that. I want my daughters to grow up and have healthy, fantastic sex lives. I want them to do so safely, of course, and confidently. What I don’t want is for them feel inhibited by a society that shames women for enjoying their sexuality. So, “slutty feminists”, come at me! I need you to influence my kids!
“I don’t need feminism because I want my children to respect women and men”
Yep. Nope. Hang on, what? Ok this is one of those times where you can see the young lady behind this comment isn’t very informed about feminism. I’m not all that good about remembering the goals of each wave of feminism but I’m pretty damn sure that “not respecting men and/or women” isn’t on the list. Feminism recognises that for equality to be achieved, women must be given the same rights, opportunities and advantages that men already have. Disrespecting anyone on the basis of gender goes against this core belief.
“I don’t need feminism because it’s hurting men and not helping women”
In America, the FBI had to how to considerable pressure to change the definition of rape so that it also encompassed male victims. Feminists did that.
These days, men are able to be the stay-home parent or to work different hours around their partners, allowing them to be hands on parents. There is even such a thing as paternity leave. Thanks, Feminism.
There are other examples but the key point is that feminism rejects the common stereotypes placed on men in a patriarchal society and allows men to move away from arbitrary gender roles, which seems pretty beneficial to me, both to men and to women. I can honestly say I don’t understand how this does not help women.
“Children are dying every day because their parents can’t afford treatment- tell me again about your birth control crisis #priorities #idontneedfeminism”
I could be facetious and point out that denying women birth control may well lead to more children whose parents can’t afford to adequately care for them but the simple fact here that this is nothing but a Strawman argument. Feminists don’t want children to die for the sake of accessing birth control.
“I don’t need feminism because I love being true women![sic] I love cook[sic] for my men and clean[sic] house! #truewomen”
Well, forgive me for being a great, big fake woman. I freaking hate cleaning. I love cooking but there are times I don’t cook purely because I don’t want to clean up afterwards. Seriously, one of the bonuses of marriage (well, my marriage) is the deal we have- if I cook, he does the clean up. The general cleaning we ignore for as long as possible, or bribe the kids to do some of it and split the rest. I thought that’s what everyone did, but apparently not. If you really like to clean and cook for your men, then be my guest. Seriously, if cleaning and cooking floats your boat, you should go for it.
You can still be a feminist who believes men and women should have equal rights and opportunities while you indulge your passion for cooking and cleaning for your men. You can even not like those things and still be #truewomen because I don’t think womanhood is dictated by how much you like to cook and clean and more than feminism is defined by how little housework you do.
“I am against Modern Western feminism because the pay gap is a myth, the war on rape culture is moot because good men don’t rape and bad men don’t care and disarming women doesn’t help. Modern feminists care more about…Slut Shame than the rape and murder of Muslim women every day”
Hmmm. The Gender Pay Gap in Australia isn’t a myth. On average, women earn 17.5% less than their male counterparts here.
The war on rape culture is moot because good men don’t rape. That doesn’t add up. I can think of a few examples here but the one that immediately springs to mind is those two young up and coming football players and good students that raped that young woman in Steubenville, Ohio. Only bad men commit rape, right? So why was it that reporters on CNN and many others appeared to support them, openly sympathising with and grieving for these young men who were convicted of raping a young woman based on numerous photos and posts to social media depicting the various assaults they made on her. They wondered openly at the impact on their lives from being placed on the sex offender register without any thought for the lasting impact on the life of the victim. The people of Steubenville were divided by the case, with many blaming the victim for her attack. That right there is Rape Culture and it is anything but a moot point.
Modern feminists care about slut shaming because we are sick and tired of being told how we can and cannot use our bodies and being told that to embrace our sexuality is shameful. Caring about slut shaming does not preclude one from also caring about the rape and murder of Muslim women. In fact, I’m not keen on the rape and murder of any woman. Or anyone else, for that matter. The issue of women’s roles in a Muslim society is a varied and complex one and while there are certainly valid concerns within some facets of Islam there are also growing numbers of Muslim women at the forefront of their own feminist movement.
“I don’t need modern feminism because I…Don’t need others to fight my battles for me…Believe in earning things for myself…Believe in proving I am worthy of what I want and not expecting them to be handed to me because I feel entitled.”
It’s great that this woman feels empowered enough to fight her own battles. Where did that empowerment come from?
I don’t know anything about the author of these comments. I don’t know what issues she has faced in her life. What I do know is that there are big issues facing women in our society; from the Gender Pay Gap to a culture of victim blaming and discrimination- none of these are issues I’d like to take on by myself.
Feminism isn’t about special entitlements for women- it’s about having the same entitlements as men.
“I don’t need feminism B/C men are not our enemy. They are our fathers, sons + brothers. Belittling them helps no one.”
Men as a group should absolutely not be regarded enemies and belittling them does not help anyone. I absolutely agree with that. Belittling men and making them the enemy is something that the patriarchy does extremely well. Pigeon-holing men into narrow definitions of masculinity, blaming poor behaviour or habits on being male, expecting men to be incompetent in areas like care-giving or cleaning and mistreating men who don’t conform to these stereotypes are actions that are harmful to everyone. Feminism does benefit men- it’s misandry, the hatred, contempt and sometimes desired subjugation of men, that regards men as the enemy and seeks to belittle.
Does the feminist movement need to take responsibility for this backlash against feminism? Are some feminists too vocal, taking things too far? I don’t know for certain, but I really don’t think so. Feminism is still needed and still relevant. Feminism, like anything else, has been misused and corrupted by people seeking their own ends. There is a minority claiming to be feminists while pushing an agenda that is thinly disguised (if at all) misandry. There are also vocal men’s rights groups who misrepresent feminism and identify it as a hateful and damaging movement. It’s important to understand what feminism is before rejecting it; it’s important to acknowledge where the rights and privileges we enjoy today have come from. It’s not about hairy legs and man hating. It’s not about refusing to cook or demanding special privileges.